Quit India

By Ismat Chughtai


Sahib has died.” Jainat Ram brought me this news along with the foodstuff from the bazaar.

“Sahib? Which sahib?”

“That semi-blind sahib.”

“Oh, the one-eyed Sahib. Jackson. Poor fellow.” I looked out of the window. Beyond the moss covered old wall that was damaged in several places like a row of rotting teeth, Sukhu Bai, sitting on a raised cement platform with her legs spread out, was wailing. Next to her was Petu sitting on his haunches and sobbing. Petu, that is Peter, was a unique example of the intermingling of black and white. His eyes were blue like Jackson Sahib’s and his hair was brown. His wheatish complexion had been scorched by the sun and had become coppery.

I have been observing this strange family through my window for years. It was here that I first conversed with Jackson Sahib.

The 1943 “Quit India” commotion was at its height. Travel from Grant Road to Dadar provided a brief but vibrant example of the country’s restlessness. At the corner of Mungton Road a huge bonfire had been lit into which ties and hats were being thrown, and when someone wanted to, pants would also be taken off and burned. The scene was somewhat childish but interesting nonetheless. Crimped ties, new stylish hats and well-ironed pants were being dumped mercilessly into the fire. Dressed in torn and tattered clothes, the men in charge of the fire were feeding the flames very casually with new clothes. Not once did it occur to any one of them to consider covering their naked black legs with one of the new gabardine pants instead of dumping them into the fire.

Just then the military truck arrived and goras (British soldiers) with reddened snouts and lips, all toting machine guns in their hands, briskly leaped out of it with loud thuds. The crowd disappeared in an instant. I had witnessed this spectacle from the safety of the municipal office and the moment I spotted the machine guns I quickly took refuge in my office.

There was confusion in the railway cars as well. When the train departed from Bombay Central only three out of the eight seats were intact. By the time the train reached lower Parel, those three had also been ripped out and tossed from the window and I traveled standing all the way to Dadar. I was not feeling any anger toward these boys. It seemed that all these trains, these ties, pants, they were not ours, they belonged to the enemy. We are burning the enemy along with them. Near my house a long tree trunk had been placed horizontally to block traffic and a sort of wall of garbage had been erected over it. I climbed over it with difficulty and had just arrived at the door of my flat when the military truck showed up. And the first gora with the machine gun to jump down from it with a thud was Jackson Sahib. On getting wind of the truck’s arrival members of group responsible for the roadblock had disappeared into the buildings nearby.

Since my flat was on the first floor many of the boys immediately rushed in. Some hid in the kitchen, some disappeared into the bathroom and the latrine.

My door was open so Jackson walked in with two armed guards to question me.

“There are thugs hiding in your house. Give them over to us.”

“There’s no one in my house, just my servants,” I said casually.

“Which ones are your servants?”

“Those three—” I pointed to the three men who were puttering around with the dishes.

“Who is in the bathroom?”

“My mother-in-law is taking a bath.” Who knew where my mother-in-law was at this moment.

“And in the latrine?” A mischievous look appeared on his face.

“Maybe my mother, or perhaps my sister. How do I know? I just got home.”

“Then how do you know that your mother-in-law is in the bathroom?”

“When I entered the flat she called out asking for a towel.”

“I see. Well, tell your mother-in-law that blocking roads is a crime,” he murmured and ordered his companions, whom he had left standing at the door, to return to the truck.

Hunh, hunh, hunh…” He nodded and smiling, left the house. There were meaningful points of light in his eyes.

Jackson’s bungalow was adjacent to my boundary wall. To the west was the ocean. His memsahib (name for British women), along with two children was in Hindustan for a visit in those days. The older girl was grown up, the younger one was about twelve. Memsahib came to Hindustan during vacations and just for a few days. The appearance of the bungalow was transformed the moment she arrived. The servants would become alert. The interior and exterior of the house were whitewashed, the garden would receive new flowerpots, which the people in the neighborhood would start stealing as soon as Memsahib had left, while some were sold by the gardener. When the commotion began about Memsahib’s visit again, Sahib just went to Victoria Garden and carried home some pots. During Memsahib’s stay the servants appeared in their uniforms, and Sahib himself donned his uniform all the time or wore a fancy dressing gown, and accompanied by clean looking dogs, inspected the flowerbeds as if indeed he was one of the sahib folks.

But no sooner had Memsahib left than he would heave a sigh of relief, go to the office, and after work put on his shorts and undershirt and sitting on the platform on his armchair, he would drink beer; perhaps his dressing gown was stolen every time by his bearer. The dogs left with Memsahib, and two or three terriers, regarding the bungalow as having been orphaned, would settle into the courtyard.

As long as Memsahib stayed dinner parties were the order of the day and early in the morning she would call out to her ayah in the most lyrical of notes: “Ayoo!”

“Yes Memsahib!” Ayah would make a frantic run when she heard her voice. But it was rumored that when Memsahib left, she became the begum. In her absence she took care of his sexual needs. Philomena and Petu were the permanent proof of her temporary reign.

Partly because of the “Quit India” turmoil and also because Memsahib had grown weary of the filthy, sweating inhabitants, she didn’t stay long and returned earlier than usual to her country. During this time I had another meeting with Jackson, this time through this window.

“Has your mother-in-law finished bathing?” He asked, smiling mischievously as he spoke in the Bumbai lingo.

“Yes Sahib, she’s finished bathing—she has taken a bath in blood,” I said sarcastically. Just recently several fourteen and fifteen year-old boys had been killed in the firing that had taken place at Hari Nawas. I was certain that among them were some who had taken refuge in my house the other day when the truck came. I was repelled by Sahib. A real live weapon of the British rule was standing in front of me and making fun of the blood of those innocent people who had lost their lives at his hands. I felt like scratching his face. It was difficult for me to determine which of his two eyes was the glass one because the glass eye was a first-rate example of English craftsmanship. It was packed with the cunning of Jackson’s entire white race. The poison of arrogance was equally present in both eyes. I banged the window shut.

I felt anger at Sukhu Bai. That bitch, she had decided to be the delicious morsel for the wicked dog belonging to the white race. Was there a dearth of cripples and bastards in her own country so that she felt the need to auction off the honor of her country? Every day Jackson got drunk and beat her. There were extraordinary events transpiring in the country. The white rulers were about to lose their welcome.

“Their government won’t survive much longer,” some people were saying.

“I say, these are pipe dreams, it’s no joke to throw them out,” others were saying and I would listen to the long speeches of the country’s leaders and think, “No one mentions Jackson Sahib. He calmly grabs Sukhu Bai by her hair and strikes her. He beats Philomena and Petu. Why don’t the ones who raise slogans of ‘jai hind’ (long live India) do something about him?”

But I didn’t know what to do. Tharra (a coarse form of alcohol) was being produced in my backyard. I knew everything, but what could I do? I had heard that if you reported these scoundrels they threatened your life. And actually I didn’t know who to report this to. The taps in the entire building leaked day and night, the drains were putrid, but I had no idea where and to whom I should lodge a complaint. Those living in the neighborhood had no idea either whom to complain to if a nasty woman emptied a bin of garbage from a window above on someone’s head. In most such cases the person on whose head the garbage had landed would lift his head toward the window and shouting insults, brush away the filth from his clothes and go his way.


One day I intercepted Sukhu Bai.

“Tell me, you stupid woman! This scoundrel beats you every day and you feel no shame?”

“He doesn’t beat me every day, Bai,” she argued in the Bombay lingo.

“Well, he hits you at least four or five times in two months, doesn’t he?”

“Yes, he does Bai—but I beat the scoundrel too.” She broke into a laugh.

“Come on now, you liar.”

Arre, I swear by Petu—I gave him a small beating the day before yesterday.”

“But aren’t you ashamed? You suffer beatings at the hands of a white-skinned man?” Like a true patriot I delivered a lecture. “These pirates have plundered our country for so long—” etc., etc.

“Oh Bai, Sahib hasn’t robbed anyone. It’s these servants who rob him day and night. Memsahib left and the bearers made off with the cutlery—and pants, coat, hat, shoes—all gone. Come and see, there’s nothing left in the bungalow. You say he’s a thief, I say if it weren’t for me, these wretches would cut off pieces of his flesh and take that away too.”

“But why do you have such a soft spot for him?”

“Why wouldn’t I, he’s my man, don’t you see Bai…” Sukhu Bai smiled.

“And Memsahib?”

“Memsahib is a whore…yes!” Sukhu Bai decided. “I know her very well, yes. It’s London where she wants to live all the time.” Here she delivered a hefty invective and added, “She’s always there, doesn’t come, and if she comes then all the time arguing with Sahib, arguing with the servants.”

I tried to explain to her that soon the English will be leaving Hindustan and Sahib will leave as well. But she didn’t understand anything I was saying. She kept saying, “Sahib won’t leave me—Bai he doesn’t like ballayat (England) one bit.”

I had to move to Poona for a few years. The world changed during that time. The English actuality left Hindustan. The country was divided. The white ruler played his hackneyed trick before leaving and the country was bathed in waves of blood.

I returned to Bumbai to find that the bungalow’s appearance had undergone a change. I don’t know where Sahib was. A refugee family was now settled in the bungalow. Sukhu Bai was living in one of the servant quarters. Philomena was quite tall now. She and Petu attended an orphanage school nearby.

As soon as Sukhu Bai heard I was back she landed at my house with a few mung beans in hand.

“How are you Bai,” she asked, pressing my legs just as a formality.

“How are you—where’s your Sahib? He went to London, didn’t he?”

“No Bai.” Her face fell. “I told him he should go, but he didn’t. He lost his job as well. The orders came but he didn’t go.”

“So where is he?”

“He’s in the hospital.”

“Why? What happened?”

“The doctors, they said he is drinking too much, his liver is ruined and his mind is not right. There’s a lunatic asylum not far from here, they put him there in first class.”

“But he was going back, wasn’t he?”

“Everybody told him to, I said, you go please.” She broke into tears. “But no, he said dahling, I’m not leaving you.”

I don’t know what happened to me when I saw Sukhu Bai crying. I completely forgot that Sahib was the citizen of a despotic nation, a man who had solidified the chains of bondage. Who had shot bullets at children who were my compatriots. Who had rained fire with his machine gun at unarmed people. A cog in the horrible machinery of the British Raj that had shed the blood of the brave people of my country. Whose only fault was that they demanded their rights. But at that moment I didn’t remember anything. Except that Sukhu Bai’s “man” was in a lunatic asylum. I was extremely disappointed by my emotional reaction because a patriot should not feel any sympathy or attachment for a member of a tyrannical nation.

It was not just me, actually, everyone had forgotten. Without any thought to whether the worm that was responsible for her creation was white or black, all the boys in the neighborhood were madly in love with the blue-eyed Philomena. When she returned from school so many deep sighs followed in her wake, so many glances were laid at her feet. While mad with love for her, not one single boy remembered that she was the daughter of that white monster who had drenched a fourteen-year old boy in blood at the corner of Hari Nawas, who had fired at defenseless women in front of the Bahim Church just because they were shouting slogans.

He had squeezed out the blood of young boys in Chaupatti and had dispersed a crowd of emaciated, half-naked, hungry boys with machine guns—everything was forgotten. All they could think of was that the young girl with golden cheeks and blue eyes had an supple waist and there were pearls strewn in her fleshy, ripe lips.


One day Sukhu Bai came running with prasad (sweets blessed by a god).

“My Sahib has returned.” Her voice was quivering, her eyes sparkled like pearls. What love there was in the word “my.” If once in your life you get the chance of making someone yours with such complete abandonment then the need for reincarnation is fulfilled.

“Is he cured?”

Arre Bai, he was never crazy. The officers just took him and put there. He’s run away.” She spoke secretively.

I got scared. A defeated Englishman and then an escapee from the lunatic asylum. Whom could I report this to? Who wants to get involved with the Bumbai police? Well, who cares if he’s mad. I’m not about to get to know him.

But I was completely wrong. I had to get to know him. I was also curious to know why Jackson didn’t go to his wife in England. What kind of a person gives up paradise and lives his days out in a shack. And then one day I got the chance. For a few days he didn’t leave his small lodgings. Then gradually he started sitting in the doorway. He was skinny. His complexion, which used be red like a monkey’s was burned to a reddish brown. Dressed in a plaid lungi (a cloth worn around waist) and a dirty undershirt, he looked like one of the many old Gurkhas roaming the streets of Hindustan. The difference between his real and artificial eye was now beginning to show. The glass was still shiny, clear and “English,” but the good eye, after turning muddy and dim, had sunk in a little. He generally roamed around without the glass eye. One day I was at the window and saw him standing under the Jamun tree. He would absently pick up a stone, look at it smilingly like a child and then fling it with all his might. Noting me, he shook his head and smiled.

“How are you feeling Sahib?” I asked, egged on by curiosity.

“I’m good, I’m good.” He smiled and thanked me.

I came outside and engaged in small talk with him. Very soon he was conversing with me without any reserve. Finally one day I took a chance and started to probe. After many days of hard work I discovered that he was the illegitimate son of a noblewoman. His maternal grandfather had paid a farmer to raise him, but this was done so skillfully that the farmer never came to know the true identity of the family the child belonged to. The farmer was a harsh, tyrannical man. He had many sons who found ways to torture Jackson. He was beaten every day. But he was well fed. He had started making attempts to run away when he was thirteen or fourteen. Finally after four years of failed attempts, he made his way to London with great difficulty. Here he tried every profession under the sun, but by now he had become so hardened, stubborn and devious that he couldn’t hold a job for more than a few days.

He was handsome and hence popular with young women. Dorothy, his wife, was from a very snobbish family, and was also less astute and not so clever. Her father was an influential man. Jackson thought this gypsy life he was leading was full of problems; every other day he had to deal with the police and the courts. Why not marry Dorothy and save himself from damnation.

Dorothy was beyond his reach. She was accustomed to moving around in high society. But those were the days when both of Jackson’s eyes were open. He lost his eye much later in a bar brawl following a fight with Dorothy at home. That was when he only had one daughter.

“Yes, so how did you catch Dorothy?” I probed further.

“That happened when both my eyes were functioning.” Jackson smiled.

Somehow he was able to entrap Dorothy. The poor woman was not even a virgin. But she made a great deal of fuss and married him despite her father’s disapproval. Perhaps she had given up hope of finding a husband and was looking for an opportunity such as this.

The father also seemed to recognize his daughter’s limitations. And, unable to fend off his wife persistent demands, he was forced to send Jackson to Hindustan. This was the time when every Englishman was dispatched to Hindustan, and regardless of whether he was mending shoes there, he would arrive here and immediately become a sahib (name used for British men in India).


Jackson broke all the rules. He turned out to be as useless and careless as always when he arrived in Hindustan. His biggest flaw was his lack of good taste. Instead of living a style exemplified by poise and dignity, he started mixing in an uncouth manner with the natives. When he was appointed Forest Officer in the area near Basti, he frequented all kinds of questionable opium houses instead of going to the club.

There were just a few bungalows belonging to the English in neighborhood. Most of the residents were older folk and not the outgoing type. As a result the deserted club where Indians and dogs were not allowed, remained empty for the most part. Nearly all the officers’ wives lived in their own country. If an officer’s wife came for a visit, he would take leave and go with her to Simla or Nainitaal. And then the wife would tire of the dirt and filth of Hindustan and return to her home. Drawing long sighs, the memory of his beautiful wife in his heart, the sahib would come back. These sahib folk actually managed quite well with the native girls. This kind of relationship did no one any harm. The sahib got off cheap and this was good for Hindustan as well. In the first place their offspring was either light skinned or altogether white and secondly the children were very fortunate since their influential fathers opened orphanages and schools for them. Compared to the rest of the Hindustainis, their education, subsidized by the government, was of better quality. This good-looking Anglo-Indian class was second only to the English. The young men were easily absorbed into jobs in the army, navy and the railways. Girls who were ordinary looking found better jobs than the Hindustani girls, adding a touch of glamor to schools, offices and hospitals. Those who were beautiful were very successful in the business of selling their beauty in the westernized markets in large cities.

When Jackson Sahib arrived in Hindustan he had all the flaws of a one-eyed man. Drinking had become second nature. He fought with everyone and was repeatedly transferred because of that. From the Forestry department he was moved to the police, something he deeply regretted. He had fallen for a mountain girl. He would have sent for her except that when he arrived in Jabalpur he fell madly in love with a dancer, and was so consumed by his love for her that his wife spent the entire vacation in Nainitaal and he didn’t visit her. He used the excuse of too much work and then lied that he couldn’t get leave. Dorothy’s father’s contacts facilitated a leave, but he didn’t take it. On the one hand Dorothy had fallen in love with him again in his absence and wanted to have a second honeymoon, but at the same time she was troubled by the way he practiced love. After the long time he had spent in Hindustan he had become a complete stranger to her. The mountain girl and the dancer had spoiled him with their absolute devotion. The wife who came for two months every year had become a stranger to him, and to make matters worse, he had to exercise a certain degree of formality in her presence.

One day, in a state of drunkenness, he demanded a kind of lovemaking in the style of the mountain girl and the dancer. She became so incensed that Jackson didn’t know what to do. She questioned him extensively. “Have you been consorting with local women just like sleazy, low class Englishmen?” Jackson swore up and down that he hadn’t, and then kissed her so vigorously that she became convinced of his virtuousness. He felt sorry for her and forced her to come to Jabalpur with him. But the flies and heat drove her half made. She might have suffered through it but then when a two-mouthed snake appeared in her bathroom she started packing. Jackson did his best to convince her that it wasn’t a snake and it didn’t bite, but she didn’t listen to him and left for Delhi the next day.

There she used her contacts and had him transferred to Delhi. This was the time when the second WWII broke out. Separation from the dancer and Dorothy’s permanent stay in Delhi became a source of extreme distress for him.  Sukhu Bai had been hired to take care of the children. When Dorothy left for home with the kids after she got tired of the heavy rains, Jackson turned his attention to Sukhu Bai. Oh my, how convoluted Jackson’s story was, because Sukhu Bai was actually Ganpat, the head waiter’s keep and he had coaxed her out of Pawan Pul and brought her here. He had a wife and kids. In order to save himself from the burden of her upkeep he got her hired as the ayah for Jackson’s children. Sukhu Bai was quite content with this job that required her to mop floors, wash dishes and which included catering to Ganpat’s needs.

Sometimes Ganpat used to pass her on to one of his friends as a favor or as payment for a debt. But he accomplished this cleverly so that for a long time Sukhu Bai didn’t know what was going on. She was already drinking, but after she came to live with Ganpat she would drink crude liquor regularly every evening. Ganpat would bring the customer into his room. No one was afraid of Jackson. Ignoring their work, the servants would casually drink and gamble. Not only that, after Dorothy’s departure all the bad characters from Shivaji Park congregated at Jackson’s bungalow and created a racket late into the night.

When she was quite drunk, Ganpat would leave Sukhu Bai with the customer and would make an exit on some pretext or the other. Sukhu Bai thought she was fooling Ganpat. Gradually she went from serving her master to performing the role of the wife’s substitute. This is how she finally got rid of Ganpat’s tricks. He used to wheedle her entire salary out of her. Then Ganpat left for the Middle East to work as a bearer in the army and Sukhu Bai permanently filled the spot left vacant by the memsahib. The only thing was that when Memsahib came during vacations, she would return to her small quarters and when she called out in her shrill voice, “Ayoo!”

Sukhu Bai dropped everything and ran, saying, “Yes Memsahib.” She thought her English was perfect after she had learned to say ‘Memsahib.’ Actually what else is there in the English language except words like ‘Yes, no, damn fool, swine?’

Rulers can easily make do with just these few words. Long, complicated literary sentences are not required. For the horse pulling a tonga, ‘takh, takh’ and the language of the whip are enough. But Sukhu Bai didn’t know that the half dead horse in the Englishman’s tonga had turned rebellious and had overturned the carriage and now its reins were in someone else’s hands. Her world was very limited: it contained her, her two children and her ‘man!’

In the days when Memsahib used to come to Hindustan Sukhu Bai would very generously give up the role of substitute wife and assume the role of the nanny. She was not at all jealous of Memsahib. Memsahib might be an example of western beauty, but when weighed on the scales of Hindustani beauty, the result amounted to a zero. Her skin was raw like that of a peeled turnip, one that had been removed from the branch before it was fully ripe, or it seemed as if she had been taken out after being buried in a cold, airless dark grave for years. Her peppery silver hair looked like an old woman’s hair and for this reason people belonging to Sukhu Bai’s class thought of her as an old woman or maybe a sunflower, which is regarded in a pitiful light in Hindustan. When she washed her face her penciled eyebrows disappeared and her face gave the impression of a picture that had been ruined by an eraser of substandard quality.

To add to all this, Dorothy was cold, a stranger, Jackson’s mere existence was a revolting insult to her. She regarded herself as extremely unfortunate and wronged and thought she was right in making this marriage fail. No matter how high the positions that Jackson achieved in his career, she could not be proud of him because every job or promotion had been arranged by her father. Had an idiot been afforded these opportunities, he too would have made something of himself.

Sukhu Bai, on the other hand, belonged to him—she was hot, she had blazed like a bonfire at Pawan Pul and had warmed the hands of thousands. She was Ganpat’s mistress whom he loaned to his friends like an old shirt. For her Jackson Sahib was a god. The Avatar of respectability. What a difference there was between the ways in which he and Ganpat showed their love. Ganpat chewed her and spat her out just for a change of taste, and Sahib, like a helpless, needy person, regarded her as the elixir of life. There was a childlike vulnerability in his love.

When the English left with their Tot Plan, he didn’t go with them. Dorothy did everything in her power to make him return, threatened him, but he sent in his resignation and didn’t go.

“Sahib, don’t you miss your children?” I asked him one day.

“I miss them very much. Philo comes home late in the evening and Petu goes off to play with his friends. I want them to sit with me sometimes.” He started his stories.

“Not Petu and Philomena, I mean Esther and Liza,” I said cheekily.

“No, no,” He shook his head and laughed. “Puppies are familiar only with the bitch not with the dog who has a part in their birth,” he said, winking his good eye.

Why doesn’t he go? He’s lying here, rotting. It wasn’t just me, but others in the neighborhood as well who were getting impatient with his presence.

“He’s a spy. He’s been left here deliberately, so that he can help the British return to rule again,” some people said.

When the boys in the street spotted him they asked,

“Sahib when will you go to England?”

“Sahib, you’re not going to do quit India?”

“Leave Hindustan, Sahib.”

“The chora has left.”

“That gora gora has left.”

“Then why don’t you go too?”

The tramps on the street followed him, reciting from a popular Indian film song, poking fun at him.

That was when I felt very sorry for him. Where are the keepers of the world who teach every weak nation the lessons of civilization? Who clothe the naked in frocks and pants? Who beat the drum of the superiority of their white blood? It is their blood that now appears naked in the form of Jackson. But no missionary comes to cover him up.

And when the brats on the street got tired of jeering at him and left, he sat in front of his quarter and smoked a beeri (a kind of rolled up cigarette). His good eye looked out toward the far horizon searching for the borders of the country where no one is white, no one is black, where no one can be forced to go to or come, and where errant mothers do not bear illegitimate children and leave them at your threshold or mine and begin living lives of honor and respectability.

Sukhu Bai worked as a maid in several homes and made quite a bit of money. In addition, she made wicker baskets, chairs and tables and earned some money that way as well. When Jackson was not drunk, he made odd looking baskets with no bottoms. Sukhu Bai brought him half a peg of liquor every evening that he guzzled down in no time and then started to quarrel with her. One night he somehow obtained a whole bottle of liquor and kept drinking all night. Early next morning he fell asleep in the doorway. Philomena and Petu jumped over his sleeping form and went to school. Sukhu Bai called out with curses and then she left as well. He lay there until noon. When the children returned from school they found him sitting against the wall. He had fever, which got worse the next day and turned into delirium.

All night he was babbling. God knows whom he was thinking of. Maybe he was remembering his mother whom he had never seen and who at this moment was at some grand party expounding on “moral rectification.” Or perhaps he was remembering the father who after playing the role of a breeding stud did not pay more attention to him than he would to the excrement flowing from his own body. And who was probably in some other colonized country, working on tactics aimed at solidifying national prestige. Or he was remembering Dorothy’s contemptuous favors, which like the whip of a cruel farmer, rained on his sensibilities, or maybe he was remembering the bullets that were shot from his machine gun and had pierced the chests of innocent people and were now returning to wound his soul. All night he was screaming, tossing his head. The furnace in his chest sizzled. The walls around him shouted:

“You have no country—no race—no color.”

“Your country and your race are Sukhu Bai who gave you refuge and love. Because she too is an outcast in her own country. Just like you. Just like the millions who are born in every corner of the world. Whose births are not celebrated with trumpets, and who are not mourned when they die!”

Dawn was breaking. The chimneys of the mills were spewing smoke and swallowing the long lines of workers. Tired prostitutes were freeing their bodies from the grip of their nighttime customers and bidding them goodbye.

“Leave Hindustan.”

“Quit India.”

Voices filled with contempt and hatred struck his head like hammers. He looked sorrowfully at his woman who had fallen asleep with her head resting on the edge of his bed. Philomena was sleeping on a piece of sacking in the kitchen doorway. Petu was asleep with his head tucked behind her waist. A sigh escaped from his heart and a tear dropped from his good eye and was absorbed in the soiled mat.

The fading mark of the British Raj, Eric William Jackson, left Hindustan.

(Translated by Tahira Naqvi)

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