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grown risome of my
Ray, Shimo, Noguchi are illustrious the new arrogant East — and whose names in science already. In thirty- fault was it? five years, working under discomfort In passing, I may remark that the and positive discouragement, the Asi- speech of the Indian young of to-day atic genius has already shown what it is not poetic and picturesque as it was can do. I repeat, give us a hundred thirty years ago. They speak with a years with full facilities, – that is all realistic turn of phrase scarcely mitiwe ask, — and then the West will do gated by a fluid use of historical fact. what it did before; it will come to the Instead of inventing a story in order to East for culture and for civilization.' illustrate a point, the intelligent young
I said: 'I am glad to hear you talk man quotes an event in history. This like that. It illustrates the difference is the beginning of a mental barrenness of your generation from mine. In which will kill our fertile imagination; mine we did not believe in anything I can forecast a day that I shall hardly, not even in our own genius live to see when no Hindu will make or race.'
his point without quoting abundant 'We are hoping, sir,' he said eagerly, statistics. The pestilence of figures is 'to bring in the new spirit. We are spreading from mind to mind. working against the adamantine obstructive conspiracy of the Westerners who have helped and taught the world to think that Asia has always been That some of my old friends had backward and always inferior. You grown rich in India while I was in know, sir, an ant grows wings to fly; America was no fault of mine. So far but no sooner does it hop off the as I knew, the war so upset the ecoground than the insect-eating bird nomic life of India that some new catches it in mid-air and devours it. groups had to become wealthy, and I The Western ant is growing wings of admit I was a bit elated to find among vanity. Once it flies, the bird of the them one or two friends of my own! East will swallow it. It is a pity that Nilu had begun life as a college you have lived so long in the West; professor; but now, at the age of thirtyit has dazzled your eyes, but it cannot six, he owned three factories and had dazzle ours. Our generation in Asia about seventeen-hundred souls in his will brush the Western fly out of employ. I could not believe my eyes existence.'
when I beheld the lad of five-feet-six, When they left me I felt drowned in now grown somewhat rotund, jumping melancholy. Could it be possible that from his Rolls-Royce car! I simply boys, hardly twenty years younger, could not entertain the vision as a could be just the opposite of what we reality. But there he was — coming to were at that age? I do not mean that me with hands stretched out to take they were wrong; there was a great mine in his. How could he be my deal of sense in what they said. But boyhood's friend and grow rich? why so much optimism? It sounded so Impossible! crude, so vulgar. Yet perhaps, I He was stout, and pale-brown in thought, boastfulness is only natural complexion, with a round, beneficentto the injured vanity of the young men looking face. The short, sharp nose of a long-conquered race.
was pugnacious, no doubt, but not the Still the seed of the next war was rest of him! Girlish eyes, large and being planted; arrogant West grappling deep, — dark brown, — an even brow,
of our temple Calcutta to the fore us
in that m
high, smooth, care-free forehead, and sider is passport to any place.' I spoke moderately marked chin — there was loftily. not a feature to indicate anything but 'Oh no, my boy. That was all right the college professor. His mouth was before the war, but between the war small, its bow-shaped lips were like and Gandhi the Brahman's prestige has those of a child of six or seven. How been knocked into a cocked hat. The could such a helpless fellow manage to rich, particularly the newly rich, are the be clever enough to be rich? To my model of our life. You must have the mind, the acquisition of wealth pre- trappings of a rich man. Don't demur, supposes a Mephistophelian ability, old fellow. I shan't hear of it. In an reinforced by a Napoleonic will-to- hour, another car will come to fetch me. power; yet lo, here was a rich man It is, let me see, four in the afternoon; who was Napoleonic in nothing but I shall expect you to dine with us at in stature!
seven. Use the car as your own as long I asked Nilu to be seated on the floor as you are here; it will facilitate your of our temple porch. He had come all entrée into many exclusive places. the way from Calcutta to the edge of ‘By the bye, have you any telephone the town where we dwelt. Before us in this temple?' were a few trees, a green pasture, That made me furious. and the Ganges where people were “Telephone in the house of God!' I bathing.
exclaimed. I spoke to him in English; for I 'Of course not! How stupid of me,' could n't imagine any other of our he said to himself, taking not the languages suited to the Rolls-Royce slightest notice of my indignation. car.
'Well, I shall have to telegraph you 'It is very kind of you to come to see from time to time. I want to show you me, particularly now that you are so what our Indian hospitality is. Let me busy.
just take charge of you; I want you to He fanned his face with his silken see what has happened here while you chuddar. He was dressed in exquisite have been wasting your time in Amersilk robes of ivory yellow from which ica. I myself wasted three years in his brown head rose like the fragment Harvard, but knew better than to stay of a statue on an ivory pedestal. there, but you spent thirteen years. After having fanned himself for a Golly! What a waste of time! Yet I while, he spoke in reminiscent vein. must say that America taught me how
'I wish I had my old courage to be to get where I am.' poor, and had stuck to teaching his- Here my friend looked at his watch. tory, but I cannot afford to be poor, It wanted some twenty minutes to five. and so I have no time to live. Look He said, 'I married out of caste, as you here! I want you to see something know. My wife is coming to meet you.' of our rich people. I shall put that car “What? A Hindu girl going about of mine at your disposal.'
alone in an automobile?' I questioned ‘But, my dear fellow, I do not need in amazement. your car,' I answered earnestly.
'What do you want her on — an 'Childish as ever,' Nilu admonished elephant?' Nilu hit back. You have me. “If you do not own a car you are no kept your medievalism alive in spite gentleman. That is one of the rules of of America. Why should n't my wife our set.'
go about in her husband's car?' ‘But I am a Brahman; that I con- 'Look here!' I began a long ha
rangue. 'I am very much obliged to 'Nay, brother,' he answered. 'In you for your car. I am glad that you the time of that insane slaughter, the will show me the life of the new rich, State turned the key on anyone it but let us talk Bengali. Why are you suspected, in any place it saw fit. I, so restless? India is eternal. Why look among others, was never tried, and I at your watch? Why should you count was released after four years, when it the minutes in Eternity? There is the suited the convenience of the State.' Ganges; she flows on now that the 'How many were you?' bathers are very few with the same “We were fifteen in one beauty inevitable ease as when the bathers parlor (exact translation of Shrighar). were many in the morning.
At first they put us in solitary cells in The English tongue that we have order to make us confess what we might spoken registers only the froth and know. There I meditated on God, but scum of our being. Now give thy somehow that did not help to soften heart's inmost talk. Let the wing of the hearts of our jailers, so we all began forgetfulness bear away the burden of a hunger strike. I fasted sixty days. work. Thou knowest that I long for Rama, Rama, that broke the resistance the light of thy soul in the gaze of of our jailers! Those protectors of thine eyes, brother. It is an age since peace did not wish to have us die; so we dreamed on the green fields and by when the third score of days passed and the rushing waters. I care not if thou I would not break my fast, they gave art riding the stallion of wealth or us what we wanted and let us have our walking on the unsandaled feet of way in the King's hotel, as we called poverty; only tell me thine inmost the jail. From now on we had books, story, thy heart's longing and thy papers, good food, and no more solispirit's dream. I meet thee across the tary confinement, and my soul could river of boyhood on the shore of mid- dream untrammeled by telephones, dle-age! Tell me if thy head rests on the and unsought by visitors.' pillow of serenity and thy limbs repose 'It is strange that India's Harvard on the couch of friendliness and love.' and Oxford graduates have given more
'Shiva Vishnu! Dost thou know I of themselves to their country than spend all my days speaking English?' Indians from other Western univerhe burst forth. 'I deal with English sities,' I remarked.
s they send men who are ignorant Nilu answered, "True, very true. of any tongue save their own, and I Harvard University at present has speak better than they. The hours of contributed more men that follow the day I waste talking alien speech! Gandhi's teachings than any other My soul has no time. My heart knows American university where Hindus no serenity. My head rests — if rest have studied. Harvard has the greatest that be — on the pillow of care. prestige in India; for it has supplied us Gunga, mother of waters, I never see; with the largest number of jail-birds!' I bathe in my private bath; I work in he concluded in English. my private office. I am alone. — lonely Just then my friend's wife arrived in as I used to be in solitary confinement her car. She wore a beautiful sari of when the British put me in prison on violet fringed with gold. I noticed that my return from America at the incep- she had slippers but no stockings tion of the war.
her bronze-colored ankles needed no 'Did they charge thee with treason? covering. Wert thou tried?' I asked.
It thrilled me when she knelt down
and took the dust from my feet. Ah, My sister, it appeared, had for her still to be honored as a Brahman — the same worship as my brother and I. what a privilege! I was on the verge She came to know her long before we of tears. I blessed her: ‘Be thou thy did, because she was about fifteen years husband's jewel of pride. Bear him older than my brother, who was royal sons.'
O separated from me by four years. Then all three of us took off our Doubtless she could tell us much about slippers and climbed the cool cemented her that would be new to us. stairway to the shrine proper, two I had found my sister little changed. flights above. There we bowed to She had never resembled the rest of Krishna; then sat on the porch in us — she had lighter skin, 'coffee, silence for a time, until my sister came tempered by cream,' my brother used from our adjoining house to greet to say, not coffee-clear like ours; her Nilu's wife. She offered us sweetmeats nose was aquiline, almost Semitic; her from the remnants of the noon offering eyes were slanting, not round, darkened to the god.
by long black lashes; there was some Nilu's wife touched the sacramental gray now in her thick jet hair and a morsel to her forehead first, as a line or two in that smooth brow, but salutation to it, then put it in her nothing else, save her white widow's curving mouth.
sari, spoke of any change. In the It was a pity they could not linger, darkness, I could distinguish nothing but the Rolls-Royce stayed behind for but the whiteness of her dress, but I my use. Again that violet-draped knew that its severity was unmitwoman bowed to my sister and to me, igated by any borders of colorful took the dust from our feet, and went design. She had never worn ornaments
'Is there anything more beautiful even in her youth. Great was her than the good old courtesies?' I said to austerity, and fortunately she was very her husband, who saluted us after, strong. None of us could remember a following her example. I blessed them day when she felt tired enough to omit both.
the fulfillment of a single duty. She As they climbed into their car, Nilu lived on two small meals a day – said in English, 'You know this altogether a one-half pound of rice and salutation-business is beautiful for you a pound of milk, while she superinBrahmans; but we, who are not tended the work of a temple, fed forty Brahmans, feel as if our backs would or fifty people, and meditated on God break!'
three solid hours every day, beside
law, son, and grandson. She gave an From the younger generation I went hour and a half each day to her grandto my brother and sister for protection. son, as a part of religious communion. It was evening. We sat on the roof un- But, in spite of her competence, she der the starry sky - velvety black – was not like our mother; she had a from which the stars hung so low and plethora of common sense. Once, when warm that one could almost pluck a European lady had invited her to tea, them, like grapes. But to-night even my sister inquiring the hour and hearthe stars were out of key. In that ing that it was half-past four, andarkness we spoke of our parents and, swered, “Oh! I am sorry to say then presently, all our talk concentrated that it will be impossible for me to upon our mother.
come, as the important preparation of
der thewhich the staula almost even my that it wasan
God-business begins after four, and if fights her brother at her funeral. Later, I do not attend to it, the evensong will the prince is killed by the brother not be as good as usual.'
whom he kills as well. It has luscious Such a reply would have been im words in it, for an innocent young possible from my mother; to her God man's sorrow tastes sweet to the was as light as a whim, not a heavy reader; but how can it be a tale of weight on her mind. I am certain that wisdom which our mother would have she would have found as much of Him had me learn? Can ghosts be so rein a tea-cup as in an evensong. Was vengeful? Is it right to tell one's mother he not spirit omnipresent?
that she is unchaste, and all because of While I was thinking of these things, the idle talkativeness of a good-formy sister was saying: 'To me, mother nothing spirit, who should go to gave different instructions from yours, Heaven instead of walking about at my brothers. I was taught only stories night to poison his son's life with cruel and songs of devotion. I do not know thirst for vengeance? That tale dewhether she had a premonition that I stroyed all my ambition to know should become a widow at twenty-two, English. Thou dost know the language but, none the less, she taught me as if well; was I not right to give it up?' she felt certain of it, her sweet under ‘Yes, that wanton tale of beauty standing firmly paving the road, so should discourage anybody.' Thus I that it would be firmer under my feet disposed of Prince Hamlet. at the bleak hour of calamity. And I My sister resumed: 'I took to learnbelieve that was why she had me ing from mother all the stories about taught English.'
our ancestor Chaitanya. She began I expressed surprise at this for my them all in the same way. 'Listen, oh mother herself knew not how to read listen to the prophet of love! He was or write. My sister explained that born to preach love to Hindu and mother had said to her:
Mohammedan alike in order to show 'I belong to the age when wisdom that there is only one God, though we came to men's hearts naturally, but give him many names, and he was our thou, my child, art born in a time when ancestor.' only printed words are considered true. 'How old wert thou, sister, when Learn English, my daughter; it is the mother taught thee this story?' I ruler's language and since thou canst asked. not rule men without some cunning, 'I was fourteen. After that she the English tomes may help thee to taught me line upon line of the story of hold thy place in this world.'
Savitri and how she saved her husband 'It did serve me in good stead after from death. Next I memorized the my husband's death,' went on my trial of Sita. When I grew to be a sister. ‘But, thank God, I have for woman, I was made to fast twenty-four gotten all of that language now.' hours in seclusion with her, and in that 'Why?' I asked.
seclusion she taught me Gita Govinda, 'Oh, it has so little wisdom and so the Song of Songs, and imparted the much beauty. The last story I read in secret and wisdom of love to my English was about a dead man's ghost heart.' Suddenly she stopped to ask who tells his son how he, his father, was me, 'How do Western mothers teach murdered, then the young prince, an their daughters the art and wisdom of innocent dreamer, kills an old fool, love?' whose daughter's heart he breaks and ‘Am I a woman or a Westerner
en loung prince, was me, the suddenly she of love it