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Chapter 2


She had come years before from far-away Europe, for reasons of her own, — reasons entirely different from those for which other foreigners settle in India. One of the things that had attracted her to the hallowed Land was the fact that, contrary to the Christians, Mohammedans and Jews, the Hindus neither acknowledge an unbridgeable gap between “man” and the rest of living creatures nor believe that those creatures have been brought into being for man. She had — logically, yet erroneously, — drawn the conclusion that such people must necessarily be kind to animals in practical life; kinder, at any rate, than those who profess a faith or a philosophy centred around the “infinite value of human life” alone. Another reason why she had come was that India is the only land an earth in which Aryan Gods, — akin to those Europe used to adore, before Christianity was forced upon her people — are still worshipped, and Aryan principles, inherited from the fair invaders of six thousand years ago,1 accepted without discussion; the only land, for example, in which the bulk of the population has never ceased believing in the God-ordained hierarchy of human races.

These two aspects of her psychology sprang in reality from one and the same source, namely from the woman’s essentially aesthetic outlook on life. She maintained that a beautiful healthy animal, in fact, a beautiful healthy tree, is infinitely more precious than a sickly human being, a fortiori than a cripple or otherwise deficient man, woman or child. And she held the Aryan race, to which she was proud to, belong, to be the finest race on earth, and all that which exalts it and its natural values to be good, mainly because the Aryan type of human being is — or was, in her eyes, at least — the most beautiful of all.

And, having read that a certain Greek named Heliodorus — an envoy at the court of an Indian king of the fourth century before the Christian era, — had once, somewhere near Bhilsa, set up a stele upon which he described himself as a “worshipper of Vishnu,” she had taken the name of

1 See Lokomanya Tilak’s books Orion and The Arctic Home in the Vedas.


Heliodora. She too was an Aryan of the West who had been drawn to Indian ways, out of the feeling that they were not strange to her; that they were the ways of Aryan people who had adapted themselves to a tropical environment and to life in the midst of a numerically overwhelming foreign population of many races. Apart from that, the name suited her, for she was a devout Sun-worshipper.1 For years she had been living under that name. Nobody knew what she had, originally, been called.

* * *

She was seated — cross-legged, in the Oriental manner, — upon a mattress upon which was spread one of those mats, made in Shylet, which are as fine as cloth; and she was writing. A smooth plank, which lay upon her lap, served the purpose of a writing table. And there were cats, some ten or twelve of them, or more, lying here and there, all over the place, some upon the mat, some upon the bulky cushions that lay in a row against the wall, others upon the cool, shiny floor, of dark-red, artificial marble. One beautiful, half-angora tom-cat, all black save for a hardly visible white spot upon his breast, had stretched himself his whole length upon the papers at Heliodora’s side, softly purring. This was Sadhu, her favourite cat, — her favourite because the most beautiful of all, among those she had. The only piece of furniture in the whitewashed room was a bookcase full of books; the only decoration in it, an enormous brass plate, entirely inlaid with red enamel, of Jaipur workmanship, which stood against the wall upon that bookcase. In front of that plate could be seen, within a frame, an enlarged photograph of Adolf Hitler feeding a young deer — one of the loveliest pictures of the German Leader. Heliodora was not a German. Nor had she ever seen the Maker of the Third Reich, But she was, partly at least, of Nordic blood, and hailed in him the Saviour of her race, the Friend of creatures, and the exponent of everlasting Wisdom. And she worshipped him. Fresh pink lotuses lay in a round, flat, painted earthen vessel, at the foot of the picture, and three sticks of incense were smoking before it, fixed in the holes at the top of a brass burner, which had the shape of the sacred sign “Aum”: Heliodora’s tribute of love to her Leader; and the first fruits of that of the whole of Eastern Aryandom, which she had come to conquer for him.

The woman stopped writing, and started thinking about the war.

1 Heliodora means, in Greek, “gift of the Sun.”

This was Sadhu, her favourite cat (p.16)


In later, darkening days, how often was she to look back to this glorious early spring of 1942, in which one had experienced, to the full, the thrill of victory, and joyous confidence in the destiny of the world! Now, she was living that stage of unmixed optimism. And did not events seem to justify her feelings as well as those of the millions of people who, like herself, — although, perhaps, from a standpoint somewhat different from hers — firmly believed in Hitler’s mission? Indeed, on all fronts, the situation was — or seemed to be — splendid. The German army was successfully standing the Russian winter; and Stalin was calling for help — for arms and ammunitions — from his western allies; Rommel was advancing along the Libyan coast towards the Egyptian border, and would, apparently, not take long to reach Alexandria and Port-Said, and to hinder England’s normal communications with India; in the East, Germany’s allies, the Japanese, had taken Singapore only a few days before — on the eleventh of February, exactly two thousand six hundred and two years after the foundation of the Empire of the Rising Sun, according to officially accepted Tradition, undoubtedly a good omen — and they were now rapidly conquering Burma; and they would conquer Assam and East Bengal and Calcutta, and march to Delhi, — where the irresistible German Army, pushing on from Russia through High Asia and the historic Khyber Pass, would no doubt meet them. There was only one thing that depressed Heliodora in all that, and this was the fact that, being in Calcutta, she had personally witnessed none of the parades of victory, especially not the one along the Avenue des Champs Elysées, in conquered Paris, on the 14th of June 1940. She could not forgive herself for not having gone back to Europe before the war, when it was yet time. She cursed her fate, for not having been able to go in 1939, when she had tried so hard. Had she, then, managed to leave India, she would have been sending messages on the Berlin wireless in modern Greek, in Bengali, and perhaps one or two more other languages for which there were few applicants. That would have been a job for her! And sooner or later someone would have had the good sense of introducing her to the Führer; she felt quite positive about that. She would have seen “him”; heard “him” speak; speak to her, personally! “Alas!” thought she. Still, all would be well if the Germans and the Japanese were soon to meet in imperial Delhi. Then, “he” would come there and receive the allegiance of the East as well as of the West. And she would go and greet him.

Just as she was thinking of this, Sadhu, who had, up


till then, been lying upon her papers, stretched himself and turned towards her his round, black, glossy head, with golden eyes.

“My furry beauty; my black tiger!” said she, as she stroked him under his chin, in answer to his blissful glance: “My black tiger with one tiny white spot — only one!”

The reply was a soft, regular purr.

An unexpected thought crossed Heliodora’s mind, like a flash of lightning: “Had I gone to Europe in 1939, or even in 1940, I should not have had this lovely creature, nor, in fact, any of these cats to which I have given a home. They probably all would have been dead, by now — would have died of misery, in some gutter, without love, poor beautiful felines!” And a strange question followed that thought: “Was it for them that I was fated to remain here?”

She knew the thought was a nonsensical one and the question too. For of what account was the life and happiness of any creatures, nay, of any human beings, including her own, compared with the service of the Aryan Reich and of the Cause of truth? But then she remembered a lovely sentence, which she herself had quoted number of times in the meetings she used to address; a sentence that could have been written by a Hindu, but which was in fact taken from Alfred Rosenberg’s booklet commonly described as the “Nazi Catechism”: “Behold Godhead in every living creature, animal and plant” — in other words: worship everlasting Life in all sentient beings . . .

“How near we are to Hinduism!” thought she, for the millionth time. “Our principles are exactly the same: the self-same Aryan principles that were those of Northern Europe, before it fell prey to Christianity.” And for the millionth time, she dreamed of making that identity manifest in the eyes both of the Hindus and of the Germans and other racially conscious Aryans of the West, and of giving Adolf Hitler the reverence and active support of the whole of Indo-European humanity, re-awakened to the pride of its own eternal values.

* * *

Sadhu got up, stepped into the woman’s lap, and there, curled himself into a ball, with his head upside-down and a front paw stretched out, in one of those graceful and unexpected positions which cats are so fond of taking.

Heliodora could never get a tangible mark of confidence from any of her cats, — or, by the way, from any beast, — without feeling deeply touched; and also without recalling in her mind, and detesting, the thousands of human beings


who betray such confidence, every day in some way or another. Presently, she took the soft velvet paw, whose sharp, curved claws were drawn in, in both her hands, and stroked it. The claws slowly came out, and then again disappeared into their sheathes. And a louder purr, that one could feel through the cat’s thick, warm coat, especially at the level of the neck, was again the pet’s answer.

Heliodora felt happy, — half reconciled to the fact that she had not seen the victory parades in Europe, in “glorious ’40.” “Anyhow, there soon will be more such victory parades to be seen here in Asia,” thought she. “In the meantime, had I succeeded in going to Europe a year and a half ago, where would you all be, you happy furry ones? And where would be the dogs that wait every evening at the corner of the lane for me to bring them something to eat? ‘Behold Godhead in every living creature, animal or plant.’ It is better to live up to that spirit, which is ours, and whose victory in the world would be our victory, than to watch military parades.”

But it suddenly seemed to her as though she had heard a mew of distress coming from somewhere far away in the narrow lane. She quickly went and opened the window wide (she had shut it, as usual, to keep out the sound of the neighbouring radios, and that of people jabbering on the nearby terrace). Immediately, the mews of distress seemed to her alarmingly high-pitched. But where could they come from? She stood on the balcony and listened. The mews were, quite definitely, coming from the lane. Heliodora, who had never heard an animal cry without finding out what the matter was and then trying her best to do something about it, threw a shawl over her shoulders, took a jug of milk in one hand, a saucer — and her house keys — in the other, and went downstairs.

Two or three minutes later, she was in the dark lane, in front of the place from which the mews were coming.