Author, Burning for Freedom

Author, Burning for Freedom
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Sunday, September 2, 2012

More precious than a jewel necklace . . .

Hi, Everyone! What love and adoration the people in Andaman had for Savarkar . . .

Here it is in his own words:

“My brother and myself were made to stand before the prison gate. The jailor handed us over to the police party in order to take us on the steamer bound for India. The kind jailor asked them not to put fetters on us. We were marched along and at last the iron door of that horrible prison opened its jaws to let us out into the spacious atmosphere of the world outside.

It had opened in 1909 and closed after swallowing up my elder brother. In 1911, the same horrible jaw opened out again and shut so soon as it had gulped me down. We had no hope then that we could come out of it alive. The iron portal that had shut upon us in 1911, turned on its hinges with a grating sound in 1921, the jaw opened and we came out of it. The iron threshold of that iron gate, as we crossed it, made us aware that we were leaving the Andamans alive. I said to my brother,

"This little threshold is a borderland between life and death. From death we are crossing into life only by stepping across the threshold. Yes we have crossed it and stepped into the land of the living. And now? We do not mind very much. Let the future take care of itself."

A garland of white Champaka flowers

“The outside of the prison was strictly guarded against the crowd that had gathered to give me a send-off. A large number of people had come there only to have a sight of me. The prisoners scattered over the settlement were scrupulously kept at their work that day. And yet many had come under some excuse or another and lay in hiding to have a look at me.

We had walked only a few steps on our way to Port Blair and under an escort when a Maratha prisoner by name Kushaba who had been raised to the position of a jamadar and who was shortly to receive his ticket of freedom, suddenly rushed forward and defying the escort that guarded us put a garland of Champaka flowers round my neck on behalf of all the prisoners present. While the police party was about to raise a cry, he had already left after cheering my name and prostrating himself at my feet.

He was liable to lose his job and be punished for such a sacrilege. But he seemed not to mind it. I still visualise the scene, the Maratha prisoner intent on garlanding me, and the baffled police-officers straining to pull me off and handcuff me.

The police officer was a symbol of twenty year's effort on the part of the authorities to blot me out from the memory of the people, to prevent one and all of them from having any photograph or hook in their houses, or any relic to remind them of me and my work.

All these years they had branded these actions as punishable offences. And now the police officer taking me to the steamer was making his last effort to prevent the prisoners from honouring me.

On the other hand, the garland of Champaka flowers and the jamadar who gave it to me, were a token of the love and veneration in which thousands of my fellow-countrymen still continued to hold me.

My life and life-work had all along been the battle-ground between these two contending forces and of their action and reaction. And the manifestation in my life constituted so many symbolic expressions of the whole story. That was how I felt about the scene before me, and I expressed it in so many words to my brother beside me.

More precious than a jewel necklace

This garland of flowers was an invaluable recognition of our efforts during the last ten years for uplift of the Andamans. We felt our efforts rewarded by this token of love and reverence. It was dearer to us than any necklace of jewels. As he garlanded me, the crowd expressed its joy by clapping. This applause betokened loving gratitude that went home to my heart. It was a conclusive answer to the efforts of the authorities to inspire fear and disaffection about me among the settlers in the Andamans.”


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