Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Sri Aurobindo's experience in prison - The wit - Part 3

 Part 1 here and Part 2 here

1) About the magistrate, Mr. Birley (p.63):

An ample body should be accompanied with a matching intelligence else nature's sense of economy might be held in doubt. But Mother Nature seems to have been distracted and rather unmindful in the matter of Birley. The English poet Marlowe had described this economy as " infinite riches in a little room" but an encounter with Mr. Birley led to the contrary impression - little riches in an infinite room. In reality, one felt saddened by the precious little intelligence that was housed in a body as ample as this. The fact that a small number of such administrators were governing the fate of thirty crores of Indians, aroused a profound appreciation for the greatness of the English and their system of governance.

2) Prosecution-magistrate tactics (p.66)

But Norton would not accept such an answer. He would thunder out his favourite question: "Come, sir. What is your belief?" Mr. Birley following Mr. Norton's cue would thunder in turn: "Tomar biswas ki achay?" (What is your belief in the matter?) The poor witness would now face a horrendous dilemma. He had no "biswas" (belief), yet on one side he had to contend with the magistrate, and  on the other side, with Norton, who, like a veritable tiger, was eager to tear out his very bones and intestines in an effort to extract the priceless elusive "biswas" . The "biswas" would still not materialise, and the witness - his body soaked in sweat and his brain in a whirl - would escape from this place of torture with his life. Some who held their life dearer than their "biswas" would make good their escape by offering a made-up "biswas" at the feet of Mr. Norton, who thus propitiated, would complete his cross-examination in a suitably affectionate manner.

3) Witness examination (p.71)

    However if the witness responded in the negative, "No, I cannot recognize anyone; I have not seen them earlier or I did not notice anyone particularly" , Mr. Norton would still not relent. The witness would be sent for the identification parade as an experiment to check if the faces were able to trigger some buried memory of the past life. The witness would be lacking in such yogic powers and perhaps even lacking in belief in re-incarnation; nevertheless, he would march gravely, under the sergeant's supervision, between two long rows of accused persons, and without even looking at us, shake his head and announce: "No, I don't know anyone of them" .

4) Witness examination (p.72)

In one case, a mere glimpse of a person brushing his teeth would be adequate for his face to be etched in memory for eternity; [...]. As one had met Hari on ten occasions, there was no possibility of forgetting him; but one had met Shyam for merely half a minute and yet one could not forget him until one's dying day, without any possibility of lapse in memory - such powers of recollection in this imperfect human form, in a mortal world of ignorance and error, is a great rarity indeed. Yet such amazing, faultless, precise powers of recollection were exhibited by not just one or two policemen but the entire police force. As a consequence, our devotion and respect for the C. I.D. deepened with every passing day.

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