Chapter 8-

29 November 2023

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TOOK Savithri back to Cambridge. At the station we jumped into a taxi and I left her at Girton College; then I went on to reserved for me. The short porter, called John, led me up the staircase to my little room under the roof. It was somewhat triangular, but with the Bible beside the bed and the cross above me I felt what I always know I am, a pilgrim. The night was not long, and dawn broke very early. I went to the Library and with some difficulty got a card to work there.

Libraries always speak to me; they reveal me to myself-with their high seriousness, their space, and the multiple knowledge that people have of themselves which goes to make a book. For all books are autobiographies, whether they be books on genetics or on the History (in twenty-two volumes) of the Anglican Church. The mechanics of a motor-car or of veterinary science all have a beginning in the man who wrote the book, have absorbed his nights and maybe the nerves of his wife or daughter. They all represent a bit of oneself, and for those who can read rightly, the whole of oneself. The style of a man-whether he writes on the Aztecs or on pelargonium-the way he weaves word against word, intricates the existence of sentences with the values of sound, makes a comma here, puts a dash there: all are signs of his inner movement, the speed of his life, his breath (prana), the nature of his thought, the ardour and age of his soul. Short sentences and long sentences, parentheses and points of interro- gation, are not only curves in the architecture of thought, but have an intimate, a private relation with your navel, your genitals, the vibrance of your eyesight. Shakespeare, for ought we know, may have had hypertension, Goldsmith stones in the gall-bladder; Dr Johnson may have been oversexed like a horse, just as Maupassant was a hypochondriac and Proust had to lie in bed with asthma, and weave out long sentences like he eked out a long curve of breath. Breath is the solar herdsman of the living, says the Rig Veda, and hence Yoga and all that.

Therefore the biography of Dr Norman Coleman is not in the scientific 'Who's Who', but in each rhythm of his heading: "Orbitoethmoidal Osteoma with Spartaneous Pneumocephalus.'

So many men have lived and breathed and written books. What a breath it gives you! With my poor weak lungs a library is always a place of a broad, a propitious breath, and so books are not only my professional need, but also my respiratory, my spiri- tual need. And in between the tomes, in that blue of space-as though wisdom were hid; some mysterious, unwritten, unknow- able knowledge--in that blank, that silent, wise blank between books and behind them I felt the presence, the truth, the formula of Savithri. She was the source of which words were made, the Mother of Sound, Akshara-Lakshmi, divinity of the syllable; the night of which the day was the meaning, the knowledge of which the book was the token, the symbol--the prophecy.

I would meet her by the staircase of the University Library at five, and wander along over sluices and bridges, showing her the spots of silence as in between the two purrings of the Cam, or the broad sheet of space that the sun lit up from Clare Bridge to the tower of St John's. It was as if some swallow had curved out this space, for the game of its young ones. The Cam had flowers floating on it, and boats and the laughter of the very young. The Cam seemed never to have grown old, even though the buildings were so aged, for the Cam like us men and women flows right in herself, outside of history. Who, after all, could write the history of the Cam, for she was certainly there before man came to the British Isles, and she will be there even if the whole of England joined the European continent, by geological upheaval, and the Thames flowed again into the Rhine or Britain be frozen in because the Arctic regions began to get warmer for life, and this belt of the earth, too cold for man to inhabit. The Cam is silent and self-reflective. It teaches you that history is made by others and not by oneself. I am history to you, not so to myself. You make my biography, I live my own auto- biography. Trinity may have a bridge over the Cam, but the Cam has no bridge. I might call Savithri, but Savithri speaking to Savithri did not call herself Savithri. The sound is born of silence and the river is of space. Love has nothing to do with loving, for 'I' itself is love.

Night has a great, a tender innocence. No one harms another in the night but with the convictions and irritations of the day. Those who speak of the dark night think of the dark day which precedes it. The night of Cambridge had an absolute silence, as though paths and roads had stopped suddenly, and time had passed by them, and into Hertfordshire. The trees, though, made time, for winter had covered the earth with a grey, remembered existence. Man has a fire within, a substance, a light, and he illumines his night not with the stuff electric, with a touch that is no touch, a lip that is no lip, but a smell, a curve of breath and silence, as if truth is a presence, an instant, an eye. Words are made of such stuff as breath is made on.

The impossible is the reality, the fervent is the intrepid, the passionate, the high. Fruits are made of space; grass is made of light; mankind makes paths and roadways; all, that night be measured in her own silence. King's Chapel was not made by workmen but by the prayer of pilgrims; colleges were built not by the donations of noblemen and kings but by the leap of light within, by the aura of substantialities within man's blood and becoming, in which God floats as a castle, builds a bridge and shapes a tower. And in between the archway'd walls are studious boys-and far away, the girls, that weave into life the space of thought, the substance of sight, and movement of the moon, that a better England, a better India, a better world be circumscribed. The Cam is a river that lives on giving dreams.

Savithri was shy, very shy. Her touch was simple and had no name, she spoke as though she were covering her head with her sari, and throwing the palow more amply over her breast. She was shy of no one, she was shy of herself. There were moments when one wondered if she were afraid to touch her own waist, or hear her own words. I think she liked best to hear her own heart, and you felt that was where you could meet her if you dared, but you dared not, for to do this you needed the humility of a saint. Saint I had to become if I would know Savithri, not a saint of ochre and bone-bowl, but one which had known the extinction of the ego. Just as reading poetry at the break of day is like remem- bering the feel of one's dream but not the acts of one's dream, to know Savithri was to wake into the truth of life, to be remembered -unto God. She never pushed you away, but you drew away from her, because there was no common knowledge, no language in which one had similar symbols to exchange. Her simplicity was her defence, and her laughter-for she laughed so widely but softly--was like the laughter of the clown in a circus, when his body ripples with merriment before the lion: Savithri was just afraid. My courage was a failure turned into strength, her laughter was fear turned into simplicity. There was no Clare Bridge to link us together, and we looked at each other from opposite banks, like the duck on one side and the cycle on the other, lamplit and churring on its gear, forlorn.

I walked Savithri back to Girton College, one evening, feeling we were laughing in a cinema. At the hotel John the Porter gave me a letter. It was from Madeleine. It was a rigmarole of aches and anxieties. But it gave me self-assurance: man needs a woman to stand on his pedary bones. You must have a spot, a centre- to run away from.

People have asked me-Georges among them--what indeed it was that happened between Savithri and me in Cambridge. Nothing more had happened, in fact, than if you see deep and long at silence you perceive an orb of centripetal sound which explains why Parvathi is daughter of Himalay, and Sita born to the furrow of the field. I heard myself say I heard myself. Or I saw my eyes see that I saw. She became the awareness behind my awareness, the leap of my understanding. I lost the world and she became it.

For whatever I gave her she accepted, as the Ganges receives. the waters of the Himalayas, that go on down to the sea and come again as white flakes of snow, then blue, then very green; and as, when the sun comes northward again, the ice melts and once more the Ganges takes the waters down to the sea-so we gave love to each other, as though it did not belong to us, but to a principle, an other, an impersonal reality, from which we saw gifts emerge in each of us, and gave each other with ceremony. For us therefore all was celebration, festival....

Truth is the fact of existence. That is, truth is the essence of fact; and as such truth and existence are one and the same. Man sees himself in woman as essence, the fact of womanhood is the meaning of his life. If there were nothing other, you could not know that you are. If Parvathi had not sat and prayed that Shiva would open his eyes, Shiva would never have opened his eyes and there would never have been a world. Love is the honey of knowledge, knowing is sweet because woman is.

A man's world would have led all of us, one by one, to the top of Himalay; and like the Cathars, who hated mating and the making of children, we would have taken consolamentum and flung ourselves over the precipice, singing hymns on the Void: *No aias merce de la carn, mais aias merce del esperit pausat en carcer." Buddhism died in India because it became ascetic, and so denied womanhood its right to exist. Those who hate woman who debase woman-must end themselves, as the Cathars did, fasting unto death. Mahatma Gandhi respected women as sisters, and not as mates--he too disliked the process of loving and of having children and so he made them into little men. The world of man is the denial of the earth, it is just like a country with a President and not a King.

All the world is spread for woman to be, and in making us know the world woman shows that the world is oneself seen as the other. Union is proof that the Truth is non-dual. As one embraced by a darling bride,' says the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, 'knows naught of "I" and "Thou", so self embraced by the foreknowing (solar) self knows naught of "myself" within or "thyself" without." Not one is the Truth, yet not two is the Truth. Savithri proved that I could be I. One cannot possess the world, one can become it: I could not possess Savithri I became 1. Hence the famous saying of Yagnyavalkya to his, wife, "The husband does not love the wife. for the wife's sake, the husband loves the wife for the sake of the Self in her.'

Thus the King is masculine to his Kingdom, and feminine in relation to the Absolute, the Truth. That ugly revolutionary word 'Capitalist' took on a new significance for me: clearly it was born of the man-proud nineteenth century, century of inventions, empires. Man, the hero of man: Clive more proud to be the obedient servant of Company Directors than of some Azalais des Baux. And after the death of the Prince Consort how much more Queen Victoria incarnated in him than as herself. Victorianism was born of her widowhood-in the contemplation of him. Gladstone and Disraeli were her alternative symbols. She the sovran of the Empire, to whom Gordon of Khartoum knelt as to a liege. How different the lovers of Queen Elizabeth I, and the world of Marlowe, Shakespeare, and the Armada! The ascetic world of Queen Victoria disintegrated into many man-kingdoms, and the last was the one created by Mahatma Gandhi. Victorianism died not in London or Melbourne but in New Delhi, cremated there by a distinguished representative of the Germano-British Royal Family. Godse, who killed Mahatma Gandhi, was like Saint Dominic. But the inquisition was born to justify life not to kill life.

Strange, it seemed to me, on those days walking by the Cam, singing Sankara's hymns to myself, waiting for some bus or car that would deposit Savithri by my side, how my thoughts took corporeality, how I understood the rhythm and meaning of History through her. My thoughts turned to Christianity. How curious that it starts-even in the Catechism-with Eve and the Fall, and that Hinduism, too, glorifies the Mother. How beauti- ful are those hymns to the Mother, of Sankara:

Annapurné Sadapurné Sankara pranavallabhé She, ever full and plenteous, Sankara's divine lady.

But alas decadent Hinduism led pure Vedanta to end in the concretization of womanhood, the Tantriks.

I suddenly remembered Father saying that one of my ancestors in the sixteenth century or thereabouts was a great Tantrik, who had written some textbook on the Yogacakras. The story goed how he brought a virgin to the house, for adoration and Worship, and when he had sat hour after hour in mantra and meditation, milk was brought and honey, camphor and Kadamba flowers. Then the young lady-someone of the concubine class, called Radha was made to stand naked, and sixteen men came in, who had all fasted for eleven days and prayed for eleven nights, white as muslin in their skin, bright-eyed as the sacrificial fire that burnt in front of them, with ashes on their foreheads, and with filigree at their waists and ankles. They poured the honey first, then the milk and the flowers, on the young head and breast and limbs of the girl, and how it flowed over her womanhood, as though the world was made of the true substance of woman, just as honey is made of the true stuff of flower. And the girl herself stepped forward, singing:

I have no body, I have no mind, I am the essence of creation; Myself uncreate, The world my dwelling place; My Lord, is he who dwells in Kailas, Lord of the Trident, He with the moon in his hair; My spouse, the origin of Sound.

Now she stepped towards the fire, went round and round it, seven noble times, smeared her body with ashes, and borrowing a cloth from one of the Brahmins walked out an ascetic, a nun ful- filled. The woman needs our worship for her fulfilment, for in worshipping her we know the world and annihilate it, absorbing it into ourself. We should be Shiva that woman be dissolved-and with her the world. For the world is meant not for denial but for dissolution.

The object, I said to myself, is woman. Hence the concu- piscence of ascetics for their loin-cloth, their Kamandala, their stick, or naked feet. And Georges, eating marmalade or chestnut jam, how he sucked it, rolled it over and over his tongue, then swallowed it, little by little, making glougloutinating sounds, and looking innoceptly at Madeleine. And the Abbé de Grefonville, when he came to visit us, rubbed his snuff as though it gave him a self-exciting sensation, a release of himself. When it went up his nose he closed his eyes, surely not in fear of burning his eyes, but because it was such joy to feel himself in. No sinner, no Don Juan can have come back to the world as ghost, but most cenobites must have. No wonder then that mostly women are possessed by ghosts and not men. Ghosts prefer-in India at least girls of sixteen or widows.

One afternoon how long the path between the main road and Clare Bridge seemed to me, waiting in the dark and cold for Savithri. Knowing she must be having some dubious and interminable discussion with her Communist comrades for she saw a great deal of them, liking their sincerity, their disinterested- ness, their cleanliness, not smelly like the bourgeois' was her definition-I began to think of bourgeois and capitalist.

Nazism, I said to myself, must have been born of the He- principle: Nietzsche, that great 'prophet of Nazism', thought of Superman because Lou Andreas Salome alas had jilted him. Refuting the she-world Nietzsche took Zarathustra to the top of the mountain, whence he imprecated the world. The Jews belong to the world-they are great world builders-hence the hate of the he-man for the Jew. More men marry Jewesses- Savithri's best friend was a Jewess, daughter of a German refugee, and an Englishman from one of the best families, the bluest of blue blood, was in love with her than Jews marry gentile women -in Cambridge at least, where Betsy once heard a Jewish boy say, 'At least let us have some Jewish girls for ourselves! We might have to take to evil ways, if all the Cambridge Jewish girls fall in love with the sons of Dukes and Lords.'

That Marxism was born of a Jew seemed inevitable. That Marxism was succeeding in China also seemed inevitable- who but the Chinese accepted the reality of the world with such full authenticity? If the world is to be lived in, the world has to be accepted: woman has to be accepted. The quarrel between Nazism and Communism, between Hitler and Lenin, was one between the ascetic of Godsberg, and the little, heavy Slav, with bicycle and book, returning from the British Museum to the warm fire and Krupaskaya. Who ever talks of the wife of Danton, the purist, but who does not know the Princess from Austria? Com- munism is the acceptance of life, the justification of life: Nazism the denial of life, its destroyer. I am sure more Nazis gloated at the thought of London on fire, than Communists on the burning of Hamburg. When the Germans entered France, there were still officers who made the Le Silence de la Mer possible: when the Russians entered Berlin they raped every woman they could. The one ran to the fulfilment of life, the other glorified himself by denial. Mephistopheles was a solipsist. Lenin was a Saint- Francis turned inquisitor. If I were not a royalist, I should have become a communist. After all Stalin was an usurper, a Césarév- itch who succeeded Rasputin. Ivan Karamazov was a fine disciple of Christ-an enemy of the inquisition. Alyosha was a true Christian. When the Mother of God replaced the Son of Man Catholicism became a universal religion.

How true, I thought, as still I walked backwards and forwards on the path-thinking of history was thinking of Savithri-how true that ascetic Protestantism, the Puritan spirit, was combat- ting feminine Communism. Communism, I concluded, would be defeated not because of the atomic bomb or the heroes of the Korean War, but because the civilization of America was chang- ing over from its puritan background to the magnificence of women's clubs. The American man accepted woman more deeply than did the European. To worship woman is to redeem the world.

She would come to me then, perhaps, like she had the other day, under the bare trees and the yellow lamplight, with a gesture of sari and books, her voice lilting up with excuses, with implora- tions of forgiveness. 'Did I make you wait very long?' she had asked, putting a warm hand through my overcoat arm, as when the sluices are lifted and the canal waters ruf back, gurgling and rolling, splashing their joy back to all the recurrent past, with a feeling of intimacy, a fervent churning prayer, saying man has no empty kingdom in himself, but all is true and reverential.

Yes, Savithri had such a sense of regerence for things were she picking up a spoon, or holding your pen in hand to write an address (for she always forgot her pen and her glasses anywhere, classes or digs or in a restaurant, and one of the most lovable things Pcould do for her, was to go back to Lyons or to Witfolds, and ask the management for Savithri's glasses. "This Indian lady, forgot them in the afternoon,' I would plead, and more often than not, they were found). Sometimes, too, sitting by her on a bench behind Trinity we would be talking away at some abstruse metaphysical subject, and there would come some elegant young Indian or Englishman ("Your paramours' I called them, mostly out of fun, but not without a touch of other feelings) whom she had sent searching for her glasses, lost at Heffer's maybe, buy- ing her Michael Drayton (for she was specializing in the early seventeenth century) or at the Copper Kettle (opposite King's) where girls gathered together in the afternoon to talk shop. Sometimes these girls themselves, whether it were Betsy (whom I had met by now) or Lakshmi or Sharifa, two Indians, one a Brahmin from Trichinopoly, and the other a Lucknow Muslim, both of them seeking her warmth and intelligence, but each of them detesting her for their own feminine reasons-well, some boy or girl therefore would bring Savithri's glasses or pen, or even her notebook, and say 'Sorry to disturb you, Savithri', or some- times even 'Sorry to disturb you, Princess, but we thought you might again get lost, and not find the doorway of Girton. You don't want that to happen again, do you?' 'Oh, no,' Savithri would smile, 'Oh, no, and thank you ever so much.'

My looks would not encourage any disturbance, thus our conversations on the Bogomol dualism or of the good Revolution of '48 would go on. She was not in fact, very much of a com- munist, but she once said: 'You know, Ramaswamy, if you'd seen the misery I've seen in North India, say, amongst the Pasies, a tribe where a man would murder another for five rupees, or if you had ever visited, as I often did in stealth, some village or home, when my father was away shooting a tiger, or having a huge assembly of notables coming to pay homage to him with sword and ashrafee; or, worse still, if you had been with me on that atrocious day when my father tied a miserable son of a clerk, a munshi's son, to the middle post of the Palace hall and took a whip to him just because he'd dared, like a true Muslim youth, write poetry in my honour and sing it below my window-and in all innocence; if you'd seen such things, and the way when thi floods came, Mother Goomtie's kindness brought such waters that in the middle of the monsoon, with blanket, cradle, and pot on their heads, man, woman and child had to mount up trees and live full fifteen days, as it were from moon to moon-for the river entered the huts and homes, and carried away cattle, boundary-stones and children; if you'd seen all that, you would know whence comes my communism. My communism is made of Mother India's tears."

'Oh, yes,' I answered, 'but that is because you cannot weep yourself.'

"You are right there.' She was always willing to agree. I was her schoolmaster, and she liked to learn from me.

"The fact is, for you, love is an abstraction.'

'How right you are,' she said, her eyes fervent as with a sudden illumination. 'Lakshmi often says,' she continued, 'that Savithri can never love. All is given to her, money and adoration-those are her own words-so Savithri can never love.'

'No,' I protested, somewhat in selfish defence perhaps. 'You can love. Or rather you can be love."

'Now, now, what's that?"

'For you love is not a systema canalization of emotion, an idea. For you love is a fact, an immediate experience, like an intuition,' I said.

'Wonderful, wonderful. Go on."

'I've seen you look at a flower or stand at the weir and hear the

Cam purr till you are absorbed in yourself. You come out after a long, long silence and say, "Have I made you wait too long?" And with what a melting voice!'

"Tell me then, wise man, what happens when I hear the Cam purr?"

"The wise man says: When the Cam purrs for a long time Savithri becomes Savithri. First Savithri listens to the river, then she listens to her own heart, then she listens to her own silence- and then she is lost."

'Where, sir?'

'Nowhere, young, lady. You are lost to everything-and not to yourself. "Ambo yatha salilam seva tu lat samagram"-that is, it's always and for ever but water".

'I think I understand. Go on."

'I obey. As Proust says, after all we can only know our- selves.'

'Does it mean, then, that one cannot love another?" She was in haste, as she wanted to hear it proven that Pratap could love her, but that she might not love him and yet marry him. Pratap was always on her mind.

'No, you can love another. But love can never be a movement, a feeling, an act. All that acts can only be of the body, or the mind, or the ego. Only the selfish can love."

"And the loveless?"

"They become love."

'Meanwhile?" she asked eagerly, apologetically, like a peasant asking an astrologer when the rains will fall.

'Meanwhile you sing the song of the Soviet Land,' I said, and we laughed so much that some kind professor's spouse, taking her pug for its walk, found that the Britannic canine sensibility had been hurt in this, the kingdom of England, by such outrageous behaviour. The halls of Trinity must have heard our laughter and the dog, relentlessly, continued to bark.

'Pugs, Madame,' I said to Savithri, 'are a bourgeois concep- tion, and would not therefore be allowed in the fatherland of socialism. You can say "psh-psh-psh" (like our peasants call back dogs in India) to most people in the Soviet land-anyway they carry labels, chains, and municipal hygiene certificates, allow their tails to be cut or have muzzles put on their beakers-so dogs are not allowed.'

'That's sheer American propaganda!' she protested. 'Don't you know I'm in the pay of America,' I laughed. 'Except that the Americans are anti-George the Third, so they're confirmed anti-Royalists, and they'd have nothing but laughter for my Kingless Royalism or for my Vedanta. I should have been born in the seventeenth century, should have called myself Rama Bhatta and written complicated panegyrics on some obscure Prince, like the great Jagannatha Bhatta did." 'Not on a Princess?" she asked. 'No, a Brahmin in those days could never have married a Princess.' 'But Jagannatha Bhatta did."

'Well, so they say...!

'He married Shah Jehan's own daughter,' she continued, half in fun and half seriously. 'Or rather he took her to Benares, and the whole populace rose in anger that a Muslim, even a Mogul princess, should enter the great temple of Kalabhairava Himself. So the poet led her through lanes and by gutters to the ghats of the Ganges, and said, "Mother Ganga, great Mother Ganga, I bring thee my bride, my princess..."

"The River Ganga rose, she rose wave after wave upwards, and washed the feet, did Mother Ganga, of the holy bride...

*And Jagannatha Bhatta thereupon composed those celebrated verses of the Gangalahari:

Nidhanam dharmanám kimapi cha vidhanam Navarudam tirthanam amala paridhanam trijiagatah Abode of all dharma, Sole giver of pleasure to the young; Centre of holy waters, Bright garland of the three worlds.

'He might at least have praised her too?' she added.

'Well, I shall myself. And may I then write a Sanscrit verse, in Cardula vikridita about you?' I asked. 'Will you permit me?'

'Since my eighteenth-century ancestor perhaps no one has had a panegyric addressed to him in Sanscrit, so why not! My more recent ancestors employed Mogul poets to write of Alexander the Great or of Suhrab and Rustam, and at best some bulbul might drink teardrops from a Princess's marble hand. If you went further you were tied to a pillar, and your skin peeled off your back. I didn't tell you the end of the story. My father wept the whole night with the father of the boy, and gave the young mus lim a scholarship and sent him to study in Aligarh. The verse wasn't bad; I can still remember it:

The dew waking asked the Sun, O thou all-seeing, Give me the eye that sees, the red lamp that illumines

1 The Tiger's sportful sess. The name of a metre. So that before the bulbul has begun to sing her lamentations I will have looked on the curve of her eyebrows."

"True,' I said, 'your eyebrows are the most beautiful part of your face."

'A nasty thing to say, but go on.'

'Your skin is perhaps even more wondrous. Five hundred years of being shut away in the Zenana.'

'Seven hundred, please, for it was Altamash that conquered us first.'

'Well then, seven hundred years of Zenana life has given your skin the texture of self-luminescence.'

*And so?'

'And so when you fall into your silence, it's as though you con- template a crystal from inside.'

'And what a roundsome bowl too!' she added, hilarious.

'Roundsome, true, but a jalatrang¹ on which a musician could play.' Suddenly the hilarity stopped, the eyelashes fell on them- selves, and any professor's pug, mesmerized into the orbit of Savithri's knowledge, might have sat as some dogs do, in the tapestries of Bayeux, their ears stretched back, their tail out, their hind quarters from which rises a conviction, a strength that illumines their eyes.

When Savithri went into this state I fell into myself, and forgot all but the feel that existence is I. I am, therefore the world is. I am, therefore Savithri is. How I would have loved to have taken Savithri into my arms; how natural, how true it would have been! But we were not one silence, we were two solitudes. What stood between Savithri and me was not Pratap, but Savithri her- self. Meanwhile she had her gods and her holy land, and she was happy with the Comrades, and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Mao was still unfamiliar, and too near the Indian frontiers: she had given him no official recognition in herself yet.

On this particular afternoon, however, she suddenly appeared, unusually late, her high heels making her look more unsettled on. A musical instrument consisting of jars filled with water. her feet than ever. As she came running up, with her two com- panions following almost behind her, and stood before me, I mus have looked so lonely and angry that she just laid her land on mine as it lay on the wall of the bridge. Nothing was said, nothing needed to be said: her sorrow just gurgled out of her, as she breathed a long and heavy sigh. Her companions stood on the opposite side of the bridge, looking down into the waters. She knew damp was no cure for my lungs and said suddenly, like a nanny might to a child, 'I've not heard you cough for a long time, for such a long, long time. It's true, isn't it?" It was true indeed, and she knew it was she that made my breath regular and rested.

'I'm sorry,' she said, as we all walked through Senate House Passage towards the Adelphi. 'Come, Ramaswamy, let's have dinner together-all of us-and then you can go back to work. I'd completely forgotten I'd told Jack I would keep this Wednes- day evening free for a dance. He'd bought the tickets, and I was starting out here when he suddenly appeared.'

'Ah,' said Jack Hollington as though apologetically coming towards us, 'if I'd been a minute late I couldn't have known where Savithri was unless I'd gone round with a loud-speaker van.' How heavy British humour looked after the niceties of French wit. 'Yes,' he continued, as though speaking of a rugby match, 'and we'd hardly gone ten yards when Michael Swanston appeared at the gates of Girton, saying "Hullo, Miss Rathor! I've a date with you. Don't you remember we promised to go to that Kingsley Martin lecture?" But Swanston hadn't bought his tickets yet, and as he's a Comrade he hadn't dressed, as I had.' And Hollington looked himself up and down.

'And then,' intruded Savithri, 'what with dressing for the dance and meeting Michael I forgot whether we'd arranged to meet here or at the Library, so we went there first-and I with these terrible stilts, and we did everything to be on time. You know watches are always against me,' she apologized, as she removed her coat.

We had come to the Adelphi, and the terrace was all that is gracious and sprightly in Cambridge, pink dresses, frills, mag- nolias, bow-ties, whispers, laughter. Swanston and I were the only two who looked like boors: Swanston had abandoned his lecture-Savithri had a way of begging people to excuse her which made everyone follow wheresoever she went. As we all sat for dinner I saw for the first time that Savithri could be beautiful. She had put on some ancient Agra jewellery-her ear pendants were very lovely-and she had blacked her eyebrows with collyrium; the smell of Lucknow attar made me feel I should like to be back in India. For Hollington, doing radio-engineering at Pembroke, Savithri was just another undergraduate. Her father and his father had shot tigers together, or some such thing, and so the old Raja Sahib had written to Sir Edmond who in his turn wrote to Jack and asked him to take care of her. This was the first time they were going out together.

Swanston they both knew from hearing him plead the Com- munist cause at the Union. He was clever, a scholar, and ever so willing to be of service. You found him often at the Library or outside the Copper Kettle, talking of Molotov or Haldane. It was the time of the Soviet accusations against the United States about germ-warfare in Korea, and Swanston had the names, qualifications and findings of everyone on the international committee of inquiry, from Joliot-Curie to some obscure professor in Australia. What continually surprised me was the obscurity of the great defenders of the Soviet land-if Lysenko were to be proved right you quoted a Melbourne newspaper; if Stalin was to be virtuous, you invariably quoted a Tokyo or Toronto source. Again, the negro of America, whether he were called Jim, Harry, or Peter Black, was always a great leader, and knew everything about the great Peoples' Democracies. This amused me a great deal, for it reminded me of Georges with his obscure authorities for the de- fence of the dogma: it only needed some patristic father or a Bishop of Nevers in the thirteenth century to prove to Georges that his theory was correct. It was incontrovertible when he said, "L'Archevêque Henri d'Auxerre a dit... and I had to be silent. Haldane was the same for Swanston. It would have amused Henri d'Auxerre, Archevêque, to face history with Haldane. This eighteenth-century prelate being more trained in diplomacy and unction than the British biologist, the Archevêque would no doubt have opened some Burgundy-the best is grown near Auxerre-and then after a meal of rognons à la brochette, une caisse de foie gras aux truffes, et enfin la fondue a pinch of strong snuff frome the Levant would be passed on to Haldane; which would have proved that Bishops and Comrades, whatever their origin, never go wrong.

'Well, Dr Ramaswamy, what have you been thinking?' started Savithri. 'Ramaswamy has always such interesting things to say about everything. He relates things apparently so un- related for him history is a vast canvas, for the discovery of value, of metaphysical value. He's my guru,' she concluded, a little hesitant, a little shyly, as though it was such a big thing to say that it might not be named.

' What's that?' asked Jack.

'Well, it's such a difficult thing to explain. A guru is a real teacher the one who shows you the way to Truth.'

"That's asking a great deal too much of anyone, isn't it?' said Swanston, not because he did not think Truth was possible, but because for him it had only one route, as it were, one system, the end of one dialectic. And in his own mind he named that one to himself a man, a great man, far away and big, and gentle and kind to children; thrice married but virtuous, a Generalissimo, the Father, the creator of the past, the present and the future Socialist Republics. I could follow his thought, so I broke in:

'In fact, I've been thinking about the inevitability of Com- munism-this new Catholicism-and why Nazism had to be defeated, had to die. Hitler,' I went on, 'was an extraordinary man, but he could no more succeed than Ravana did against Rama. Rama is the river of life, the movement towards self- liberation, the affirmation of one's true existence; Ravana is negation, is the earth, the fact. But the earth is made for disso- lution, so he who holds the earth in bondage, he who possesses in the real sense works against life. That if anything is the mean- ing of communism.'

There are too many incomprehensible factors in your state- ment, sir,' said Swanston, removing his glasses. He wiped them carefully, respectfully, and put them back, as though the shine on his nose gave his intelligence acuity.

Ah, that's just like Ramaswamy,' explained Savithri, 'he works with symbols and equations. History for him is a vast algebra, and he draws in unknowns from everywhere to explain it.'

'So do we,' said Swanston. Jack Hollington was busy looking at the other tables; his red rose sat self-consciously in his button- hole.

'Well, there's a difference. Ramaswamy is like a scientist-his history, thank heavens, has no morality. In his history, there are no bourgeois or capitalists; to him the whole of history is one growing meaning. Or rather, it is instantaneous meaning.' She turned to me. 'Am I right? To think I am trying to explain you while you are here!' The jewel at her neck shone with such simple, intimate, unswerving splendour.

'Ravana, the King of Lanka, in our great epic the Ramayana, was compared by Mahatma Gandhi, who read the poem every day, to the British Government of his time.' This brought about general laughter. 'Your father,' I said, turning to Swanston, 'and your father, were henchmen of Ravana, and so if I may be permitted to say it'

'Was this young lady's father too,' intervened Savithri, and we all laughed again.

'Well, Ravana wants to possess the world-he's taken Sita, daughter of the furrow, child of Himalay, and wife of Rama, away; he's kidnapped her and taken her away and made her his prisoner.'

*And so?' said Jack joining the discussion.

'And so Rama has to fight his battle. He goes about in the forest and the animals of the wild and the birds of the air join him, for the cause of Sri Rama is dharmic, it's the righteous turning of the Wheel of the Law. For right and wrong are questions of a personal perspective, but dharma is adherence to the impersonal. So when Rama goes to liberate Sita from the prison island. of Ravana, the very monkeys and squirrels build roads and bridges, carry messages, set fire to fearful cities, because dharma must win."

'What's dharma?" asked Swanston.

'Dharma comes from the word dhru to sustain, to uphold. It's as it were the metaphysical basis of the world-in so far as the world exists, of course and it's the same dharma, to continue the story, that forced Sri Rama, after having burnt Lanka, killed Ravana, and liberated Sita, and after returning to Ayodhya the capital, in the splendour of banners, victory-pillars, music, and worship, to send queen Sita away on exile. The fair, the pregnant Sita was sent away for the dharma of Rama, the dharma of a king demanded it.'

'Why?' pursued Swanston.

'Because some suburban gossip between washerwoman and boat-builder's wife leapt from mouth to mouth, saying that queen Sita could not have kept her integrity while prisoner of demon Ravana. And although the earth and sacrificial fire proclaimed the purity of Sita, yet the populace spoke of this and that, and Sita had to be sent away on exile, that the kingdom of Ayodhya be perpetually righteous. The impersonal alone is right,' I said.

'How do you explain that?' asked Savithri, thoughtful. "The impersonal alone could be the Truth because he, Sri Rama, was the Truth." 'How can one be the Truth?' asked Swanston with a silly little laugh. The elementary minds which go to make the majority of communists are exasperating. 'How can one not be the Truth, sir,' I asked a little angrily. '

Standing where do you judge falsehood?' 'In truth, naturally,' Hollington said.

And can truth judge truth?'

* 'No,' said Savithri.

"Then when truth sees truth, as it were, what happens?' Everyone was introspective they were trying to understand.

'One is truth,' said Savithri, almost in a whisper, as though she feared others might hurt the Truth by saying things irreverent. And we fell into a large-eyed silence.

Meanwhile, the food came, and the drinks, and the function of masticating took a lot of our time. Savithri fiddled away with her bit of lamb or veal, for when she was thinking food did not go easily down her gullet.

'So you say communism is inevitable.'

'Yes, like small-pox innoculation is, inevitable.'

"That's new.' 'Between the normality of birth and the normality of contin- Puous existence there's a difference,' I continued. 'In one you are given a chance to live, and in the other you are prevented from dying for a certain time, for the normal length of time; and so you take innoculations. Swanston looked at me, not knowing what I was driving at.

'History proves Darwinism,' I went on. Just as there is a biological Darwinism-the survival of the fittest, which Marx affirmed was one of the greatest truths in the history of humanity -so there is a psychical Darwinism. You survive because you want the race to continue? But why, may I ask, should continu- ance be so important?'

"That's not a question,' spat Swanston, as though I were being childish. His system of logic had not foreseen such an argument.

'Yes, it is possible to explain. You do not only say light travels at such and such a speed, you also inquire if it goes in pulses or in waves, and why it does so."

'And so?' asked Savithri. She wanted me to go to the end of my argument. The fact however was, Savithri knew, as I knew, that I spoke from a knowledge, a conjoint discovery, that came of her.

The why is the most important of all questions. If there were no why, there would be no dialectic, in fact there would be no Marxism. The only trouble with Marxism was it ended with it- self. The dialectic, unlike the parallel, must meet somewhere. It had to end in some Spartacus of history, or in the Paris of 1871, or in Moscow: 1917. And thus Paradise came into being; God, the Angel Gabriel and the Generalissimo.'

Swanston, by now, had nothing but contempt for me, Jack was thinking of other things-it was soon going to be half past eight and they would have to get ready for the dance. But Savithri sat there as though time had been absorbed by her, as Shiva had absorbed his poison; as though she had made of it a jewel, to be hung at her neck. Her breath became deep, and her whole body had a quality, a tingling quality of crystal, which almost made sound unto itself inwardly. It had become a musical instrument, the jalatrang. Thoughts intoxicated Savithri as nothing did: men for her were just givers of thoughts. Her maidenhood had no physical basis. It existed, just as in fairy-tales you cannot win a princess unless you solve a riddle. For her life was such a riddle, and she rejected" man after man-not because she found them tall or lean of fat or too rich, or even learned or boring-but because she fed, as it were, on life itself; meaning consisted of food, breath, sensation. She was restless because nothing, no nothing at all, could fill her- save a steady, self-sounding but unrippled silence. Who gave her silence gave her life. Sometimes I did, I think, so she liked to be with me. I once teased her, saying, 'You function according to the endocrinology of semantics! And she laughed approvingly, letting fall the flower from her hair.

Communism she understood that evening. She understood it for she acted rightly, if often for stupid reasons. She might say, 'I like being a communist because Swanston is so nice,' or 'I like to dance with Jack because his father is a great friend of my father', not seeing that both reasons were false. She just fell on the right thing she took the English Tripos only because somebody had said, 'It's a nice discipline; take it.' But actually she spoke an English albeit with an Indian accent, of a beauty that was gentle, unobtrusive, indrawn, as though it was her most intimate breath, each word seemed created, as it were, at the moment- coming from the depths of sound and meaning at once. That was why, when I had quoted to her Kalidasa's first verse of Rag- kuvamsa, Vāk arthah vyava çampruktho, Just as word and meaning are binomial Indeed be Parvathi and Siva himself, she had stood there that day in Avignon with wonderment, that someone, even such a great poet as Kalidasa, could have for- mulated her own intimate apperception so completely, explaining Savithri Rathor to herself.

Communism for her was also an explanation, a fact of history, with a meaning. What was irrelevant turned itself away from her by some power of simple negation-like water on a swan or on a lotus leaf. Not that ugly smearing things did not come near her -they just did not reach her. There was no one to receive, at the other end. So passions fell with a gesture, vulgarity swallowed itself, and the aftermath of silence cleansed everyone, gave purity back to every decadent undergraduate.

I remembered how one evening, when Savithr ihad had to go back early to College to see her tutor about something, Lakshmi had come to dine with me at the hotel. No different from other girls of her age, Lakshmi, who swore such undying affection for Savithri ('She's here, in my belly, like my own child,' she used to say)-well, Lakshmi had said, 'I cannot understand how Savithri can go about with so many men at the same time. You'll hate me for saying it, but she's such a flirt.' I had looked at Lakshmi with the look of a Brahmin at a bird-catcher or barber. Brahmins don't need words to say anything.

'I don't mean she does things,' Lakshmi had continued. 'But whether they are Socialists, Communists, Conservatives, or anything else they all have to dance round her. Indians are shocked at this freedom. It comes from going straight to liberty after centuries of Zenana life.'

'It's like young puppies or birds-when they open their eyes and try to walk they fall anywhere. Isn't it such joy, Lakshmi, to have so much innocence before one? You and I, who come from the south, we know too much: we shall never have such inno- cence. Savithri is a saint,' I had said, and closed the discussion. After that Lakshmi had not been so free with me. She was just jealous. Jealousy with women is a greater biological quantum. We go to another woman-but they eat their own feelings out. Pity that a male prostitute is so anti-natural. For women pos- session is knowledge. To hold is to be: to love is to submit. Bond- age is her destiny.

Not so with Savithri. Having accepted bondage she was free. To be a woman, she knew, was to be absorbed by a man. If such a man did not exist, then the masculine principle in all men-and in women when they were intelligent, for she had many women friends could give food for her intelligence. She wanted to surrender to Truth-and be free. Life was too much sorrow: not joy was its meaning, but liberation. That is why when I taught her the Nirvana Shataka of Sri Sankara she was so happy-and she could sing it with deep emotion. 'Mano budhi ahankara,' she would start and, closing her eyes, enter into herself. It led her to her ow. silence.

She must have followed my thoughts, for she said, 'Do me a favour?'

'What is it?'

'Lakshmi and Sharifa have gone out to the cinema. Poor girls, they are alone. Will you take them out and give them a meal, for my sake? Now, let us come back to communism.'

She lit a cigarette, and though she knew how offensive it was for me, the South Indian Brahmin, to see an Indian girl smoke, yet she continued to puff at it, not to convince me that she smoked, but to convince others she was just like most under- graduates. Her humility was to accept the common denominator of all. This explained, too, why she was never un-at-home any- where. She slipped into events-and from event to event she slipped, as a fish slips from space to space of water. I looked on at life.

'Communism is a positive movement. It is a spiritual move- ment. It moves in the direction of life. When the Americans wonder why communism succeeds, they might just as well ask why ammonites and belemnites vanished in the mesozoic but lamellibranches, members of the oyster family, continued to exist. Death is a left-over of existence. Nothing really dies: even death does not die. All continues. Ultimately nothing continues. For that which is itself cannot continue in itself. As the Great Sage has said: It needs space and time to make water into a wave. And what is it that can make life into a wave. It cannot make itself, and nothing else can."

"Then what happens?' she asked. By now Swanston had lost all hope of intelligence. He thought we talked nonsense.

'Nothing happens,' I answered. "The question itself, as it

were, becomes the answer."

'And communism...?"

'... Dies,' I said.

'And what remains?' "Truth,' I answered, as though she knew what I knew.

She was doodling on the table with a spoon. Then she lifted her head arld said, 'So what, then, is history?'

"History is like saying one's name to oneself. It convinces you that you exist. C'est la carte d'identité de l'homme,' I said, not to prove my knowledge of French, but to give my statement the aphoristic value which the French language offers.

And communism?'

'It's the stamp of renouvellement."

'And Nazism?"

'A wrong declaration crossed out. Annulée.

'And after communism, what next?'

"The King,' I said.

"The King?' she pleaded.

"The principle of man as ruler, as regulator of the kingdom; just as woman is mistress and doctor of the household. Kingship is a catalytic principle. It dissolves terrestrial contradictions, for us all to live,'

'What a job!' muttered Swanston.

"The pyramid is a pyramid, whether it be in the deserts of Africa or in Red Square. Mummification is what ends the femin- ine principle made masculine.'

'Now, what's that?"

'Materialism-the importance given to yin, or prakriti. It can only lead to the acknowledgement of the object as real.'

"The object is real,' protested Swanston, as though to himself. He was getting exasperated and bored.

'Nobody has yet known an object in the whole history of humanity,' I added. 'If they had known, there would be no Royal College or the Institut Curie.'

'What nonsense!' he cried.

"Try to understand please, Michael. India still has the most ancient civilization on earth.'

Yes, with the whip, and five-rupee murders,' he said, obviously quoting Savithri back to herself. '

And Mahatma Gandhi!' said Savithri, indignant.

'And more than Mahatma Gandhi,' I added, without further explanation. 'Unless the masculine principle,absorb the feminine, the world cannot be annihilated, and so there can be no joy. Joy is not in the thought, but as it were in the thought of the thought, in "ma pensée s'est pensée" of Mallarmé. In fact i. is only in the stuff of thought, that is, where there is no thought.'

'Wonderful!' exclaimed Savithri.

'I am the only Indian royalist,' I said, as though to give con-

clusion to my argument. 'Well, when you are King, I shall be Queen,' added Savithri, not as it seemed, a joke, but as a dedication, a prophecy.

Cantam idam ácramapadam sphurati ca bdhuh kutah phalam ihasya atha sa bhavitavyānihām dvārāni bhavanthi sarvatra Calm this retreat, this hermitage:

Yet my arm throbs - what presage can it be? For from this, from all that lies about us Gateways open to future events.

It must be very late, I thought. I looked at my watch. It was twenty-five minutes past eight. I had to rush to meet Sharifa and Lakshmi at the cinema.

I think Savithri was sorry she had given me a job to do was sorry I was going. I think she almost said, 'Don't go.' But acceptance was so natural to her. For a moment only I think I saw a struggle in her, as if she wished there were no Governors of Indian Provinces with sons at Cambridge, no horrible jazz which had already begun to syncopate from the next room; no com- munism and no Swanston, with his red tie and his shining, gold- rimmed glasses, which made him look like a tailor or a quarter- master; as if she wished only the Cam ran through the world, past Trinity with its square tower and many birds, and gargoyles-and night would fall, and the darkness would be filled with one's unthinking thought, one's breath.

But as I left her she had regained her positive existence: her feet almost started tapping on the floor-I had become a stranger al- ready. Swanston stayed behind, saying, 'May I join your party?'

Outside it was cold, and as I want along those rich and sur- prising alleyways of Cambridge, with churches, crosses, bookshops, bicycles, I recognized I had a strange feeling of which I could not be too proud: I wished I were alone and with Savithri. If I felt thus with Swanston, why not Lakshmi feel whatever she felt about Savithri and me. My masculine exclusivity thus made me kinder to Lakshmi. To possess seems so simple, so inevitable. Truth only dawns when you know you can possess nothing. We can at best possess ourself and life is one long pilgrimage, one long technique of such a possession. I felt sorrowful and kind; I laughed a lot with Lakshmi and Sharifa. I took them to an Indian restaurant: the Taj Mahal. My own countrymen, outside my country, terrify me. They somehow seem to come from nowhere-from no particular province, caste, or profession. They all look like Brahminee- kine left at some funeral, so that when the ancestors make the voyage on to the other side as the Brahmin in Benares explains -they catch hold of a cow or bull's tail to go to their lunar destination. Meanwhile the cow steals from this shop and from that, is fed with grass by a passer-by, is decorated with kunkum by a shaven widow, children touch her with fear and beg for jewels, clothes or husbands; until some passing policeman beats her on the back, and drives her to a lane. There she lies, and chews her cud, till the sun sets and the evening pilgrims come whispering mantras as if to themselves, caressing her with great worship and tenderness: 'Gowrie, Ganga, Maheswari,' and so on. Sometimes, too, the cow or bull has a great feast, when some late funeral meal is at last over. There are Brahmins, imagine, that do three funerals a day, so sometimes one has to wait a long time for them to come. Of course it is always an illness or a new arrival that has stopped them coming sooner, for they can only come on an empty stomach... but you know from their belchings and rounded bellies much food has already gone into them. Ah, brother, Benares is Benares, Kashi the Holy, and whatever sins you commit in Kashi-well, there even a dog, or a bull, or a four shoulder Brahmin attains liberation. I told Lakshmi and Sharifa all about Benares and made them laugh. All of us, that way, are Brahminee-kine, and someone who's lost his dear ancestor searches for a cow or bull to offer it the pinda, and the bull suddenly remembers, the strength in its feet, and rises, comes slowly, condescendingly; and not only eats away all the rice, but even the darbha grass. We, the Indiana, abroad, therefore, I repeat, are the Brahminee-bulls. Nobody strikes us because we are so virtuous. Nobody washes us because we are so clean. We get the worship of others, and we have nothing to do. We ferry the dead to the opposite shore....

The other Indians were not at all amused at the ripples of laughter that came from us: the Punjabees thought it did not sound Punjabee, the Dakhsinees found it irregular-women do not permit themselves to laugh in Maharastra!-the South Indians thought it was a sign of easy widowhood. Only a Muslim here and there enjoyed himself. We were grateful to Islam, that evening, for respecting human freedom.

'India today,' I continued, 'to change the metaphor, is like the Second Empire. Every Indian in Cambridge is the son of a minister, or the daughter of an advocate-general (Sharifa's father was an advocate-general), and you find sitting opposite the nephew of the Prime Minister, the son of the Minister of Finance from Jodhpur, the grandson of Sardar Patel, Rafi Ahmad Kid- wai's cousin, or the chief Minister of Travancore's brother-in-law. You have new Maharajas and a new Emperor. The first Emperor -the Eagle-must die in exile or be shot. I Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of the French, etc., etc. Then you have a revolution, and there's his son the gentle Duke of Reichstadt, Roi de Rome, l'Aiglon, who dies at Schoenbrunn or anywhere else, for that matter. The Revolution of 1848 can come through an economic evolution-history is not concerned with fact-sequence but with a pattern-sequence and you have a Napoleon again, the Prince- Président. There's a Victor Hugo in exile and but now in Moscow-Bipin Chatterjee would be his name. There's a Balzac, and today his name might be Jainenendrakumar Jain. There's even a Princess Eugénie. She's not a wife-she's a Sister.' Sharifa roared with laughter. 'Wher, pray, is the Third Republic?' she said. "This time, madam, there will be no Third Republic, no Monsieur Thiers. History has changed its mind. We will have a King this time.'

'Who?' asked Lakshmi, amused. 'Some Rathor, of the dynasty of Sri Rama, with a Sage Vasistha behind him. Vedanta must become real again before India can be truly free. You know what Mahatma Gandhi said, "My freedom is not when the British leave India, for that is inevitable and will be soon, but when we become true satyagrahis -when we seek the Truth, humbly, fervently, and with non- violence in our hearts." That for me is India, not a country, not an historical presence among nations, but a hypostatic presence. Someone before the war wrote a book, Forward from Liberalism. Now someone must write, Forward from Marxism.'

'Forward to what?' asked Sharifa.

"To Vedanta,' I said, as though I'd murmured to myself 'Savithri'.

You are going back in time?' remarked Lakshmi. 'In Vedanta there is no going back or forward-just as in

Indian music there can be nothing new, for all that is musical has been included in Indian ragas. You can only sing and create, hour after hour, day after day, as our musicians do-like Fayyaz Khan did when he sang Khelatha nanda kumar for four nights on end. In the same way Indian history plays a melody to itself, creating and re-creating itself, standing not against sound but in silence. India is apart, that is why she has no history. India is every- body's: India is in everybody. It is in that sense, I think, that Mahatma Gandhi said, 'When we are free, all will be free.' Let us truly be satyagrahis-graspers of the Truth-and that humbly is my India,' I said, with almost a failing voice.

I was paying homage not to my country-not to the land of great mountains and big rivers, for these too I love; not to the country of Asoka or Akbar, however great and universal these may be but to some nameless magnanimity, a mystery that has eyes, a sense of existence, beautiful, beautiful Mother, my land....

I went home and wrote a sweet letter to Madeleine. I told her what to me was a truth. I loved her more than ever, not because of what she was-for that was, as it were, her affair-but because I had changed, had enlarged into myself, I felt thinner, lighter, and with a greater curve of being. I loved her, I told her, because she had borne Pierre, I loved her again for the reality that was shap- ing itself in her, I loved her for the woman that she was-that was mine, and that I had, for an instant, for a series of instants, seen and was merged in light. I had grown to respect her more, knowing that human love as I knew it then was imperfect, as language is imperfect, but that love was possible, was real: the more real and possible because I was far away-I would go farther away still. Space is the need of love, I had once read somewhere, and she who gives space to one, gives one the permis- sion to love.

I realized by now that I was not in fact writing to Madeleine but to Savithri, and I abruptly brought the letter to an end. 'I shall be back in Aix, within a week or ten days, and meanwhile grow into beauty, my love, my wife,' I begged her, as though I had come to a conclusion. The toe-rings remained in my trunk and I knew no peace. All was an absence, like the space over the bare trees and the Cam. Some bell rang the hour, and silence journeyed back among the streets: the proctors had gone to sleep. And one dim, rainy Sunday I left Cambridge for London.

The Serpent and The Rope
The Serpent and the Rope is an autobiographical-style novel by Raja Rao, first published in 1960 and the recipient of the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1964. The book explores themes of reality, existence, and self-realization. Throughout the novel, protagonist Ramaswamy's thought process develops in line with Vedantic philosophy.

Chapter 1-

28 November 2023

I WAS BORN a Brahmin-that is, devoted to Truth and all that. 'Brahmin is he who knows Brahman,' etc. etc.... But how many of my ancestors since the excellent Yagnyavalkya, my legendary and Upanishadic


Chapter 2-

28 November 2023

I CANNOT REMEMBER anything more about Benares. We spent a further two or three days there, and while Little Mother went to hear parayanams in a private temple I wandered, like a sacred cow, among the


Chapter 3-

28 November 2023

THE TRIP BACK to Aix started somewhat inauspiciously. My plane, after being five hours in flight and almost half-way Here they tinkered away on the tarmac, but somewhere in the middle of the night the


Chapter 4-

28 November 2023

MONTPALAIS is a little château on the top of a sharp monticule, as they say in France, a lone, eleventh-century bastion, with many gaping eyes and hands and feet, all torn to bits, first of all by the


Chapter 5-

28 November 2023

I STAYED at the Hotel d'Angleterre. It opened on to the north, and from my room the Pic du Midi seemed but a leap, a touchable stretch of murmuring, unsubsiding green. From the mornings the mist rose


Chapter 6-

29 November 2023

GRANDMOTHER Lakshamma used to tell us a sweet story: 'Once upon a time, when Dharmaraja ruled Dharmapuri, he had a young son of sixteen, Satyakama, who had to be sent away on exile because his stepmot


Chapter 7-

29 November 2023

PAGES from my Diary. October 17. Catherine came here the day before yesterday. It's no use pushing her and Georges into each other's arms. Of course she's shy-but she looks at men as she would a lega


Chapter 8-

29 November 2023

TOOK Savithri back to Cambridge. At the station we jumped into a taxi and I left her at Girton College; then I went on to reserved for me. The short porter, called John, led me up the staircase to my


Chapter 9-

29 November 2023

IN LONDON I could not say whether I was happy or unhappy. I walked back and forth in my room in Kensington-it was on the third floor of an old building, and looked out on a lovely square beyond which


Chapter 10-

30 November 2023

DESTINY is, I think, nothing but a series of psychic knots that we tie with our own fears. The stars are but efforts made indeterminate. To act, then, is to be proscribed to yourself. Freedom is to le


Chapter 11-

30 November 2023

I FOUND MYSELF saying the Gayathri mantra as we landed at Santa Cruz. I had said it flay after day, almost for twenty years; I must have said it a million million times: 'OM, O face of Truth with a di


Chapter 12-

30 November 2023

I GOT BETTER. Dr Pai ordered three months in Bangalore, so Little Mother, Sukumari, Stidhara, and I, with the cook and Baliga, all went up to Bangalore. I hired a house in upper Basavangudi and with c


Chapter 13-

30 November 2023

MADELEINE HAD MOVED to a new house. 'I could never again live in Villa Ste-Anne,' she had written to me. The new one was called Villa Les Rochers, for the sloping garden was strewn with brown and whit


Chapter 14-

30 November 2023

ONE DAY MONTHS LATER just a few days before I was to leave for Paris--I went into Madeleine's room. She had influenza, and was coughing a great deal. She seemed almost shocked that I should have come


Chapter 15-

1 December 2023

AS THE TRAIN pulled itself northward, and we passed through A Eyguières, Tarascon, Avignon, Orange, there was much spring in the air-though it was only mid-February-and I thought of Savithri. There ha


Chapter 16-

1 December 2023

WHEN I CAME BACK to Paris I found Catherine, and the baby so pretty, so happy. It seemed as though happiness was near at hand, could be cus from a tree like a jackfruit, like a bel. I took a room near


Chapter 17-

1 December 2023

I HAVE NOW TAKEN a room off the Boulevard St-Michel, just where the rue de Vaugirard goes up by the Lycée St-Louis. My room is on the seventh floor-I had long been waiting to live up here, and had ask