|An excerpt from
The Raj Quartet
by Paul Scott
|"The quartet has made Scott's international reputation as the chronicler of the decline and fall of the Raj."--Malcolm Muggeridge, New York Times Book Review|
|"Not many of E. M Forster's readers could have imagined then that his book's theme -- relations between Europeans and non-Europeans -- would soon become an acute human and literary concern. The topic has recurred often enough in fiction since then, but never, to my knowledge, has it been treated as brilliantly as it is in Paul Scott's new novel, The Jewel in the Crown.
"Mr. Scott, somewhat misleadingly, announces his plot as a belated inquiry into the rape by several Indians of an English girl, Daphne Manners, which occurred in Mayapore (an Indian town and district of Mr. Scott's invention) in 1942. The crime, so the story runs, has never been solved satisfactorily for a number of reasons, among them the fact that at the time the English administration was in the midst of putting down outbreaks that followed Gandhi's arrest, and the official inquiry was distracted. Actually, Mr. Scott's novel is as much a story of romantic love as it is of crime. And it is a political story as well, for the fictional love and the fictional crime are affected by the real political events in India in 1942, as, in the standard of colonial pattern, repression is followed by rebellion, which is followed by further repression. . . .
"The construction of The Jewel in the Crown is an artful triumph. Part of the book is a third-person, novelist's account of what happened at the time; part of it is Mr. Scott -- or, anyhow, an English writer -- describing today his visits to relevant scenes and his conversations with people who have pertinent recollections; and part of it is the characters themselves speaking, both now and then, or, in documents the author has collected, writing. These diverse elements all move (in both senses, narrative and emotional) and all fit precisely into the story, which itself goes forward with considerable power and urgency." -- The New Yorker, July 2, 1966
Part One: Miss Crane
from The Jewel in the Crown, pages 1-3
Imagine, then, a flat landscape, dark for the moment, but even so conveying to a girl running in the still deeper shadow cast by the wall of the Bibighar gardens an idea of immensity, of distance, such as years before Miss Crane had been conscious of standing where a lane ended and cultivation began: a different landscape but also in the alluvial plain between the mountains of the north and the plateau of the south.
It is a landscape which a few hours ago, between the rainfall and the short twilight, extracted colour from the spectrum of the setting sun and dyed every one of its own surfaces that could absorb light: the ochre walls of the houses in the old town (which are stained too with their bloody past and uneasy present); the moving water of the river and the still water of the tanks; the shiny stubble, the ploughed earth, of distant fields; the metal of the Grand Trunk road. In this landscape trees are sparse, except among the white bungalows of the civil lines. On the horizon there is a violet smudge of hill country.
This is the story of a rape, of the events that led up to it and followed it and of the place in which it happened. There are the action, the people, and the place; all of which are interrelated but in their totality incommunicable in isolation from the moral continuum of human affairs.
In the Bibighar gardens case there were several arrests and an investigation. There was no trial in the judicial sense. Since then people have said there was a trial of sorts going on. In fact, such people say, the affair that began on the evening of August 9th, 1942, Mayapore, ended with the spectacle of two nations in violent opposition, not for the first time nor as yet for the last because they were then still locked in an imperial embrace of such long standing and subtlety it was no longer possible for them to know whether they hated or loved one another, or what it was that held them together and seemed to have confused the image of their separate destinies.
In 1942, which was the year the Japanese defeated the British army in Burma and Mr Gandhi began preaching sedition in India, the English then living in the civil and military cantonment of Mayapore had to admit that the future did not look propitious. They had faced bad times before, though, and felt that they could face them again, that now they knew where they stood and there could be no more heart-searching for quite a while yet about the rights and wrongs of the colonial-imperialist policy and administration.
As they were fond of putting it at the club, it was a question of first things first, and when they heard the Miss Crane, the supervisor of the district's Protestant mission schools, had taken Mr Gandhi's picture down from the walls of her study and no longer entertained Indian ladies to tea but young English soldiers instead, they were grateful to her as well as amused. In peace time opinions could be as diverse and cranky as you wished. In war you had to close the ranks; and if it was to be a question of sides Miss Crane seemed to have shown at last which she was really on.
What few people know was that the Indian ladies themselves had taken the initiative over the question of tea on Tuesdays at Edwina Crane's bungalow. Miss Crane suspected that it was the ladies' husbands who had dissuaded them from making the weekly appearance, not only because Mr Gandhi's picture had gone but in case such visits could have been though of, in this explosive year, as a buttering up of the raj. What hurt her most was that none of the ladies had bothered to discuss their reasons with her. They had one by one or two by two just stopped coming and made feeble excuses when she met any of them in the bazaar or on her way to the mission school-rooms.
She was sorry about the ladies whom she had always encouraged to be frank with her, but not at all sorry about Mr Gandhi's portrait. The ladies had an excuse. Mr Gandhi did not. She believed he was behaving abominably. She felt, in fact, let down. For years she had laughed at Europeans who said that he was not to be trusted, but now Mr Gandhi had extended what looked like an open invitation to the Japanese to come and help him rid India of the British -- and if he thought that they would be the better masters then she could only assume he was out of his sense or, which was worse, revealing that his philosophy of non-violence had a dark side that added up to total invalidation of its every aspect. The Japanese, apparently, were to do his violence for him.
Reacting from her newly found distrust of the Mahatma and her disappointment in the behaviour of the ladies (the kind of disappointment she had actually become no stranger to) she wondered whether her life might not have been spent better among her own people, persuading them to appreciate the qualities of Indians, instead of among Indians, attempting to prove that at least one Englishwoman admired and respected them. She had to admit that a searching analysis of her work would show that in the main the people she had got on with best of all were those of mixed blood; which seemed, perhaps, to emphasise the fact that she was neither one thing nor the other herself - a teacher without real qualifications, a missionary worker who did not believe in God. She had never been wholly accepted by Indians and had tended to reject the generality of the English. In this there was a certain irony. The Indians, she though, might have taken her more seriously if she had not been a representative of the kind of organisation they were glad enough to make use of but of which old suspicions die hard. By the same token, if she had not worked for the mission she would, she believed, never have acquired an admiration for the Indians through love and respect for their children, nor been led to such sharp criticism of her own race, in whose apparently neglectful and indifferent care the future of those children and the present well-being of their parents were held. She had never been slow to voice her criticism. And this, possibly, had been a mistake. The English always took such criticism so personally.
Part Five: Young Kumar
from The Jewel in the Crown, pages 201-2 and 227-28
When Hari Kumar's father died of an overdose of sleeping pills in Edinburgh and the lawyers told him that there wasn't even enough money to pay in full what was owed to Mr and Mrs Carter who ran the house in Berkshire he rang the Linseys and asked them what they thought he should do. Although the lawyers insisted that he could put the notion right out of his head he had an old-fashioned idea that he was responsible for his father's debts, if in fact there were debts. The Lindseys found it as difficult to believe the lawyers' tale of bankruptcy as he did himself. They said he must come over to Dibury right away and stay with them. He was not to worry, because Mr. Lindsey would see the lawyers and get proper sense out of them.
His father's death occurred in the middle of the Easter holidays of 1938, a few weeks before Hari's eighteenth birthday. The Linseys were in Paris when it happened. If they had been at home Hari would probably have been with them and certainly have had their support at the funeral. He spent most of his vacations with the Lindseys. Their son Colin was his oldest friend. He had been with them up until the day before they were due to entrain for Paris. If his father had not written from Edinburgh and warned him that he was coming down to Sidcot and wanted to discuss plans for the future, he would have gone to Paris too, relying as usual on the father's agreement in absentia. Instead the letter had come and he had gone home and found his father not arrived and the housekeeper and her husband, Mr. and Mrs. Carter, in a disagreeable mood. He hadn't been expected and the Carters said they knew nothing of his father's plans to leave Edinburgh. He did not care very much for the Carters. In Sidcot the staff seldom stayed long. The Carters had been in residence for a couple of years, which was something of a record. He could not remember how many different housekeepers and handyman-gardeners his father had employed. In the old days, before he went to prep school and then on to Chillingborough, there had been a succession of disagreeable governesses and tutors as well as of domestic servants, some of whom made it plain that they preferred to work for white gentlemen. The house had never been to him what, since had got to know the Lindseys, he had learned to think of us as a home. He saw his father three or four times a year and seldom for longer than a week at a time. He did not remember his mother. He understood that she had died in India when he was born. He did not remember India either.
The reason he found it difficult to believe what the lawyers told him was that there had always seemed to be plenty of money. When he was old enough to appreciate the difference in degrees of affluence he realised that the house in Sidcot was substantial, bigger and more expensively furnished than the Lindseys'; and as well as the house in Sidcot there was a succession of flats in London which his father moved into and out of, in accordance with some principle Hari did not understand and took no interest in beyond what was necessary to record accurately the change of address and telephone number, so that his letters should not go astray and he could be sure of going to the right place if his father rang the school and suggested lunch in town on Hari's way home at the end of term. On such occasions he usually took Colin with him. And Colin once said, looking round the sumptuous but unwelcoming flat, 'Your father must be stinking rich.' And Hari shrugged and replied, 'I suppose he is.'
This was probably the moment when he began consciously to be critical of his father who spoke English with that appalling singsong accent, spelled the family name Coomer, and told people to call him David because Duleep was such a mouthful. Duleep had chosen the name Hari for his only surviving child and only son (the son for whom he had prayed and longed and whose life had now been planned down to the last detail) because Hari was so easily pronounced and was really only distinguishable in the spelling from the diminutive of Saxon Harold, who had been King of the English before the Normans came.
* * *
His sharpest memories were of piles of leaves, wet and chill to the touch, as if in early morning after a late October frost. To Hari, England was sweet cold and crisp clean pungent scent; air that moved, crowding hollows and sweeping hilltops; not stagnant, heavy, a conducting medium for stench. And England was the park and pasture-land behind the house in Sidcot, the gables of the house, the leaded diamond-pane windows, and the benevolent wisteria.
Waking in the middle of the night on the narrow string-bed in his room at Number 12 Chillianwallah Bagh he beat at the mosquitoes, fisted his ears against the sawing of the frogs and the chopping squawk of the lizards in heat on the walls and ceiling. He entered the mornings from tossing dreams of home and slipped at once into the waking nightmare, his repugnance for everything the alien country offered: the screeching crows outside, and the fat amber-coloured cockroaches that lumbered heavy-backed but light-headed with waving feathery antennae from the bedroom to an adjoining bathroom where there was no bath -- instead, a tap, a bucket, a copper scoop, a cemented floor to stand on and a slimy runnel for taking the dirty water out through a hole in the wall from which it fell and spattered the caked mud of the compound; draining him layer by layer of his Englishness, draining him too of his hope of discovering that he had imagined everything from the day when the letter came from his father asking him to meet him in Sidcot to talk about the future. This future? There had never been such a meeting so perhaps there wasn't this future. His father had never arrived, never left Edinburgh, but dies in his hotel bedroom.
Part Six: Civil & Military
Edited Extracts from the unpublished memoirs of Brigadier A. V. Reid, DSO, MC. "A Simple Life."
from The Jewel in the Crown, pages 292-95
Perhaps at this stage I should rehearse exactly what we knew was at stake and what we felt the opposition amounted to. In the first place we had our backs to the wall in the Far East and had not yet been able to regain the initiative and/or end the stalemate in Europe and North Africa. At any moment we expected the Jap to commence operations against the eastern bulwark of India. A Japanese victory in India would have been disastrous. Lose India and the British land contributions to what had become a global war would virtually be confined to the islands of our homeland itself, and to the action in North Africa, and the main weight of resistance to totalitarianism thrown on the Americas. We regarded India as a place it would be madness (as Mr Gandhi begged us) to make 'an orderly retreat from'! Apart from the strategic necessity of holding India there was of course also the question of her wealth and resources.
So much for what was at stake. As for the opposition, this amounted in the first instance to demands (inspired by Gandhi) that we leave India 'to God or to anarchy' or alternatively were challenged to hold it against a massive campaign of 'nonviolent noncooperation', which meant in effect that the native population would go on strike and in no way assist us to maintain the country as a going concern from which we could train, equip, supply and launch an army to chuck the Jap out of the Eastern archipelago!
Surely, we thought, men like Nehru would resist such a suicidal design?
At the beginning of August it looked like a foregone conclusion that Nehru had, as we say, sold the pass for reasons best known to himself. He had not found in himself the political strength to resist the Mahatma at this moment. Everything now depended upon the vote of the All-India Congress Committee on Mr Gandhi's Quit India resolution. This was made on August the 8th. Historians since have attempted to prove that the passing of the resolution was no more sinister than words on paper and that Mr Gandhi hadn't even outlined in his own mind the precise course that consolidated nonviolent noncooperation was to take. My own belief was and remains that the nonviolent noncooperation movement was planned down almost to fine detail by underground members of the Congress acting on instructions from those who wished to look publicly like that famous trio of monkeys, 'hearing no evil, speaking no evil, seeing no evil'.
How else can I account for the violence in my own district that erupted on the very day following the passing of the Quit India resolution and the dawn arrests of members of the Congress party? A violence which immediately involved a European woman, Miss Crane, the mission teacher, and on the same night was directed at the defenceless person of a young English girl, the niece of a man famous in the province some years before as governor; a girl who was violently attacked and outraged by a gang of hooligans in the area known as the Bibighar gardens? These two incidents were portents of the greatest danger to our people, and coming hard on each other's heels as they did, I could only come to one conclusion, that the safety of English people, particularly of our women, was in grave peril.
As it so happened I was out at Marpuri with the Ranpurs when I received a message early in the evening of August the 9th from my staff captain to the effect that there had been civil commotion in the two outlying subdivisions of the district, Dibrapur and Tanpur, and that a detachment of police from Mayapore, accompanied by Mr Poulson, the assistant commissioner, had driven out in the direction during the late afternoon and rescued a police post at a village called Candgarh where they had been imprisoned by rioters. Proceeding along the road towards Tanpur, Mr Poulson had encountered first a burnt-out car and some distance farther on the English mission teacher guarding the body of a dead Indian, one of her subordinates in the mission schools, who had been battered to death by, presumably, the same roaming mob. As Mr Poulson told me later, it was the sight of the mission teacher sitting on the roadside in the pouring rain that led him to believe that the troubles in Mayapore were to be of a greater degree than either he or Mr White had anticipated. I had spent the night at Marpuri with the Ranpurs, and did not know either of the Congress Vote or of the arrests of Congress leaders until my staff captain telephoned me about mid-morning on the 9th. He had had a signal from Division, and had also been informed by the Deputy Commissioner that a number of local congressmen in the district had now been detained as planned. During this first telephone call my staff captain told me everything was quiet and the Deputy Commissioner had said there was no cause at present for alarm. I had therefore resolved to stay at Marpuri to watch the battalion exercise. But receiving the further communication from my staff captain about the incident near Tanpur, early in the evening, I resolved to return forthwith and ordered him to meet me at the Deputy Commissioner's bungalow.
I reached the Deputy Commissioner's bungalow in Mayapore at about nine o'clock. There was now further trouble in the offing. Mr Whie had recently had the news that this young English girl, Miss Manners, was 'missing'. Merrick, the head of the police, was out looking for her. White told me that following the rumours of violence out at Tanpur and the attack on the mission teacher several of the English women who lived in the civil lines had moved into the Gymkhana club - one of the sites previously selected as a collection point in the event of serious threat to lives and property. Taking White on one side I asked him whether he didn't think it wise for us to give a combined display of strength - joint patrols of police and military - either that night or first thing in the morning. He said he did not think so because the town itself was quiet. Most of the shops in the bazaar had shut down. This was against regulations but he felt it better to allow the population to remain indoors and not to provoke them. I questioned him about the mob violence in Dibrapur and Tanpur. He said he believed it was the result of a 'spontaneous reaction' to the news of the arrests, on the part of men who had the time and inclination to make a bit of trouble. Meanwhile communications with Tanpur and Dibrapur had been restored and the police there had reported that they were again in control of their subdivisions. Several men had been arrested in Tanpur, among them, it was thought, one or two of those who had attacked the mission teacher and murdered her Indian companion. The teacher herself was in Mayapore General Hospital suffering from shock and exposure.
* * *
My orderly woke me at seven, as I had instructed him, and told me that the District Superintendent of Police was waiting to see me. Guessing that something was up I gave orders for him to be brought to my room at once. Arriving a few minutes later he apologised for coming so early and for intruding on my privacy. Spick and span as he was I judged from his look of fatigue and strain that he had been up all night. I said, 'Well, Merrick, what's the grief this morning?'
He told me that the missing girl, Miss Manners, had been attacked in the Bibighar gardens the previous night and raped by a gang of ruffians. Fortunately he had called at Lady Chatterjee's home for the second time that evening only a few minutes after the poor girl had herself returned after running all the way in a state of considerable distress through deserted, ill-lit roads. Merrick had at once driven to his headquarters and collected a squad and rushed to the Bibighar area. He had found five men, not far away, drinking home-distilled liquor in a hut on the other side of the Bibighar bridge. He at once arrested them (the distillation and drinking of such liquor was in any case illegal) and was then fortunate enough to find Miss Manners's bicycle, which had been stolen by one of the culprits, in a ditch outside a house in the Chillianwallah Bagh. Entering the house he discovered that there lived in it the Indian youth with whom Miss Manners had been associated. This youth, whose name as I recollect it was Kumar, had cuts and abrasions on his face. Merrick immediately arrested him and then secured all six fellows in the cells at this headquarters.
I congratulated him on his prompt action but asked him why he had come personally to see me at this early hour. He said there were several reasons. First, he wished to be sure that I had the earliest possible notification of the 'incident' of which he took the most serious view. Secondly, he wanted to know whether he had my permission to transfer the detained men to the guard room of the Berkshires if he judged that it would be wise to move them to a place of greater security. Thirdly, he wished to put it to me that in his opinion the Deputy Commissioner was seriously misjudging the gravity of the situation, a situation which in a few hours had seen violent attacks on two Englishwomen, and the murder of an Indian attached to a Christian mission. He then reminded me that earlier in the summer I had asked him to 'stick his neck out' if he thought it necessary.
I could not help but ask him in what way he felt he was sticking it out now. He said he was convinced that the men he had arrested last night were those who had assaulted Miss Manners but that it might be difficult to prove. I said, 'Well, the poor girl can probably identify them,' but he doubted it. He had asked if she knew any of the men responsible but she said she didn't because it had all been 'done in darkness' and she had not seen them clearly enough to be able to identify them. Since one of the fellows arrested was the man she had been associating with, Merrick believed that for the moment at any rate she was not telling the truth, but he hoped she would do so when she came out of her shock and realised who her real friends were. Meanwhile he had the fellows under lock and key and had spent most of the night interrogating them. They still protested their complete innocence in the matter, but he was convinced of their guilt, particularly in the case of the man Kumar, who obviously stole her bicycle and who was caught in the act of bathing his face to reduce or remove the evidence of cuts and bruises received when the girl fought back before being overpowered.
I asked Merrick if it was known how Miss Manners had come to be at the Bibighar. He said he was afraid it looked to him as if she had gone to meet Kumar there, an aspect of the case that he hoped could be glossed over for the girl's sake. He had met her himself on several occasions and counted himself as one of her friends, enough of a friend anyway to have warned her not long ago that her association with the Indian was one she would be well advised to end. But she seemed to be completely under Kumar's spell. Kumar, Merrick said, had once been taken in for questioning by the police when they were searching the town for a prisoner who had escaped from jail. During questioning it transpired that Kumar knew the escaped man, whose name was Moti Lal, but there was no evidence at that time that their acquaintance was more than superficial. Although 'westernised', Merrick considered Kumar to be a pretty unsavoury character, aware of his attraction for women and not above latching on to a white woman for the pleasure of humiliating her in subtle ways. He worked on a local newspaper, and gave no obvious trouble, but was known to have consorted with young men suspected of anarchistic or revolutionary activities -- young men of the type of the other five arrested. Several of these men had been seen with Kumar on other occasions and they were all men on whose activities the police had been keeping an eye. Merrick's opinion was that Kumar and these five had plotted together to take advantage of Kumar's association with Miss Manners. Going to the Bibighar that night, expecting to find only Kumar, she found not only Kumar but five others - men who then set on her in the most cowardly and despicable way.
Part Seven: The Bibighar Gardens
Daphne Manners (Journal addressed to Lady Manners)
from The Jewel in the Crown, pages 361-64
Kashmir, April 1943
I am sorry, Auntie, for all the trouble and embarrassment I've caused you. I began to apologise once before, when Aunt Lili brought me back to Rawalpindi, last October, but you wouldn't listen. So I apologise now, not for my behaviour but for the effect it's had on you who did nothing to deserve our exile. But I want to thank you, too, for your loving care of me, for voluntarily taking on the responsibility of looking after me, and for never once making me feel that this was a burden, although I know it must have been, and is as bad here where you see hardly anyone as it was in 'Pindi where so many of your old friends made themselves scarce. I sometimes try to put myself in your shoes and work out what it must be like to be the aunt of 'that Manners girl'. I know that's how people speak of me and think of me, and that it rubs off onto you. And all the marvellous things you and Uncle Henry did to make things seem right in India, for English people, are forgotten. This is really what I mean when I say I'm sorry. Sorry for giving people who criticised you and Uncle Henry the last word, for seeming to prove to them that everything you and he stood for was wrong.
The awful thing is that if you ever read this I shan't be here to smile and make the apology look human and immediate. If I get through to the other side of what I have to face we shall probably continue in the state we live in at the moment, of talking about as few subjects as possible that can remind either of us of the real reason why we are here. You won't in that case read this because I only write it as an insurance against permanent silence. I write it because I have premonitions of not getting through and I should hate to kick the bucket knowing I'd made no attempt to set the record straight and break the silence we both seem to have agreed is okay for the living, if not for the dead. Sorry about the morbid note! I don't feel morbid, just prepared. Perhaps I've felt like that all along, ever since the doctor in London told me to take it easy and stop driving ambulances in the blackout. Possible the suspicion that I had to cram as much of my life as I could into as short a time as possible accounts for things I've done that people settled into the comfortable groove of three score and ten would reckon hasty and ill-advised.
If I'm right, and my premonitions aren't just morbid fancies, it would be odd, wouldn't it, how someone who looks so strong and healthy could be really just a mess of physiological sums added up wrong! After Mother died I used to be afraid of getting cancer. I've since been afraid of a tumour on the brain, to account for my poor sight and occasional headaches. All these sophisticated diseases also afflict Indian peasants but they are just statistics in the records of the birth and death rates and life expectancy charts. I often wish that I could feel and think myself equally anonymous, stricken (if I must be stricken) by God, and not by something the doctors know all about and can account and prepare you for.
But let me say this; medically I feel there is only one thing really 'wrong' with me, and that this may only be wrong for me because I'm not very efficiently put together. Like the doctor in 'Pindi, Dr Krishnamurti talks about a Caesarian. I've said that I don't want that. Maybe I'm just pigheaded, but you've no idea how important it is to me to try to do this thing properly. I don't want to be cut open, to have the child torn out like that. I want to bear it. I want to give it life, not have its life or my life or both our lives saved for us by clever doctors. I want to try my best to end with a good conscience what I began with one. I think Dr Krishnamurti almost understands this. He looks at me in such an odd way. And this is another thing I am so thankful to you for, that you've never even thought of distinguishing between and English and an Indian doctor, let alone resisted my consulting an Indian. Long ago (well, it seems long ago but can't have been much more than a year) I wrote to you from Mayapore saying how glad I was that I'd had the fortune to be with someone like you instead of like the Swinsons (whom I always remember as 'my first colonials'. And what a shock they were to me!) If I'd been their niece then even if they hadn't packed me off somewhere out of the way they'd never have allowed anyone but a white doctor to come near me. But perhaps if I'd been a niece of the Swinsons I'd have run a mile rather than see Dr Krishnamurti anyway. Or would never have got into what the Swinsons no doubt call 'this mess'.
Oddly enough there was a Dr Krishnamurti in Mayapore, a colleague of Dr Anna Klaus. I asked our Dr Krishnamurti whether he was any relation of the one in Mayapore and he said he expected so, if you traced the family far enough back. I told him that I was glad his name was Krishnamurti, because it was a link with Mayapore. He looked embarrassed and surprised. I'm not sure that he wasn't shocked, my saying that name, Mayapore, so casually. He's got over the embarrassment of having to touch me, but not the embarrassment of what it seems I represent to Indians as well as to British. This thing - whatever it is - that I represent has now passed from the purely notional to the acutely physical phase. In 'Pindi I saw how even the few people who came to see us - or rather came to see you in spite of me - couldn't keep their eyes off my waist-line. Now of course the distortion caused by the unknown child (unknown, unwanted, unloved it seems by anyone but me) is the most immediately obvious thing about me. If I went down into the bazaar, and didn't confine myself to the house and garden, I'd feel it necessary to go with a little bell, like a leper, so that people could go indoors and stay clear until I'd passed! If I'd been assaulted by men of my own race I would have been an object of pity. Religiously-minded people would probably have admired me as well for refusing to abort. But they weren't men of my own race. And so even the Indians in Pindo used to avert their eyes when I went into the cantonment, as if they were afraid some awful punishment would pass from me to them
Even you, Auntie, seem to keep your eyes level with mine these days.
* * *
Of course, I wasn't a virgin. Anna Klaus told me later that she had been asked and had given her answer. She wanted me to know that the question had come up and been dealt with. She didn't press me for any comment. I didn't make any. But I tell you, Auntie, to set the record straight. My first lover was a friend of my brother David. My second a man I met in London during the time I was driving ambulances. Two lovers -- but, you see, not lovers. We made love but weren't in love, although for a time I thought I was in love with the first man.
It is only Hari I have even loved. Almost more than anything else in the world I long to talk about him to you, even if it were only to say, 'Oh yes, Hari said something like that,' or 'I saw that one time when I was with Hari.' Just to speak his name to another person, to bring him back into the ordinary world of my life. But I can't. I know that your face would go blank, and this is something I couldn't bear, to have him shut out like that, by you. He has been shut out enough. If I cry -- and I sometimes do -- it's because I know that I have shut him out as well. Is it true, I wonder, that you know where he is? I often think you know, that so many of the people I count as friends know, but won't tell me. I don't blame you, though. Your silence is for what you believe is my own good, and mine has been for what I think is Hari's. God knows there have been affairs between people of Hari's colour and people of mine before, and even marriages, and children, and blessings as well as unhappiness. But this was one affair that somehow never stood a chance. I've given up hope of ever seeing him again.
This is why, especially, the child I bear is important to me. Even though I can't be positive it is his. But I think so. I believe so. If it isn't, it is still a child. Its skin may be as dark as Hari's or almost as pale as mine, or somewhere in between. But whatever colour--he, or she, is part of my flesh and blood; my own typically hamfisted offering to the future!
Copyright notice: Excerpted from The Jewel in the Crown, The Raj Quartet: 1 by Paul Scott, published by the University of Chicago Press. (c) 1966, 1976 by Paul Scott. All rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of U.S. copyright law, and it may be archived and redistributed in electronic form, provided that this entire notice, including copyright information, is carried and provided that the University of Chicago Press is notified and no fee is charged for access. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the consent of both the author and the University of Chicago Press.
The Raj Quartet
by Paul Scott
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