Author, Burning for Freedom

Author, Burning for Freedom
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Saturday, September 1, 2012

Savarkar’s last day in Andaman . . .

Hi, Everyone! I was not able to write re Savarkar’s last day in my novel since the story moves to Calicut by that time. It occurred to me I can blog about it and that too in Savarkar’s own words.

Savarkar was to be repatriated to India, but it was not good news! In Andaman he was entitled by then to live a free life on the island. The British would never have allowed that, of course, for Savarkar would surely have escaped. But they didn’t have to expose themselves by doing so, for the Cellular Jail was closed as a penal colony; they grabbed that excuse to send him back to mainland India jails.

This is Savarkar’s own account of it:

“The Andamans were all agog with the happy news, for they knew not that my send-off from here was to be my imprisonment in India. The people welcomed the news as an order of release and freedom. Wish was father to the thought and they protested,

"Babuji, none is going to put you back in the jail again. So soon as you step in India, you are free. That is a certainty."

Taking the wish for the deed, they showered on me messages of congratulations from all sides. But the more I thought of it, the more indifferent I grew to that news. In the Andamans, I had the consolation of staying together with my brother. In India we were sure to be separated and housed in different jails, I had made intimate friends in the Andamans during the last ten years. I had already secured the ticket, and the chance was that before long, I could live here as a free man in a home and a family of my own. In India I would again be confined in prison and as asolitary man. I would lose my friends, the ties would be sundered. And I felt the same wrench of separation that I had felt when I took leave of my friends in India and was transported to the Andamans . . .

I felt as miserable and unhappy as I was ten years ago when I left India. And now that I was leaving the Andamans, I felt that I was being sent back on transportation for life once again. I packed up my books. I gave many of them to the prison library. I distributed others among prisoners aad friends. On the last day there was a crowd of men to pay me their last visit They kept on coming to me from mom till evening. Every moment I feared that the officers might misunderstand the crowd  and aught arrest any one of them again. But all went off smoothly and the officers paid no attention to the crowd. Everyone was free that day to go out and come in as

he liked. The prisoners ceased to be afraid of the officers, and the officers in their turn did not over-do their part as custodians of the place.

In spite of my repeated protests, when many of them could not personally meet me, they brought to the prison gate gifts of all kinds. Fruits, flowers, sweetmeats, soda water bottles, tins of biscuits, there were in any number, heaps of them. And who were they that showered these presents upon me? Free men in the Andamans as well as prisoners. What was their worth? Most of them earned no more than ten rupees a month.

But what loyalty and what devotion there were in the act!

Unsought and unrestricted they came with their gift of a plantain, a watermelon, and a flower to deposit it near the prison-gate. I went in the afternoon to the door, and I distributed them all among those whom I found near the gate. I only kept such of them as none would take back from me. I administered the pledge of service to a few of my choice friends who lingered behind. The pledge of our association contained the following words:

“One God, one country, one goal”

“One caste, one life, one language.”

These words were on my lips all along.”

To be continued tomorrow . . .


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