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CHAPTER II

SOLDIERS AND THEIR SATPURA CODE

The life of soldiers is an important theme which has caught the imagination of poets, dramatists and fiction writers

all over the world. Manohar Malgonkar, a great Indian fiction writer in English, is one among them. He is the only Indian fiction writer in English who has described in detail the life

of soldiers belonging to different religions and nationalities. The Hindu, the Muslim, the Sikh and the British soldiers figure

in his works.

He has skilfully blended the facts and fiction

in the most superb manner.

W»*a

It was possible^because he himself

was in the army. His novels, Distant Drum, Combat of Shadows,

The Princes, The Devil’s Wind, Bandcoot Run, and Spy in Amber

bear a testimony to it. All these novels deal with soldiers who are either in service or retired. His soldiers believe in

certain principles like honesty, integrity, loyalty, sincerety,

patriotism, devotion to duty and others. These are called the values of the 'Catpura Code*.

Rudyard Kipling, John Masters, Paul Scott and other

Anglo-Indian Writers have also described the British Indian

army.

But there is a difference.

They depict the army life

22

of the pre-Independence period, while Malgonkar deals with

both during the pre-Independence and post-Independence periods.

Moreover they have written mainly about their own men,

marginalising the Indians. The Burma War has been described

from their own point of view.

Paul Scott, for example, too served in the army from

1940 to 1946, mainly in India and Malaya. Like Malgonkar, he

mentions the defeat of the English in the Burma War and

the

influence of M.K.Gandhi on the Indians in his novel. The Jewel

in the Crown.

In 1942, which was the year the Japanese defeated

the British army in Burma and Mr. Gandhi began

preaching sedition in India, the English then living

in the Civil and Military cantonment of Mayapore had to admit that the future did not look propitious

*

It should be noted that Malgonkar’s depiction of the Burma

War is authentic as he himself participated in it during 1942.

Malgonkar's soldiers come from different areas of India.

They are very well trained by the British soldiers.

H.Y.Williams

writes thus about the Indian soldiers depicted by Malgonkar :

At the centre of his novels Distant Drum (1960) and The Princes (1963) lies a fascinating organization.

1. Paul Scott, The Jewel in the Crown (London: Pdnther Books,

1973), p.10.

23

the Indian army

which survived the Partition of the sub-continent, preserved order in the perilous days of transition

to Independence and unlike armies in other developing countries, has steered clear of politics. Malgonkar

raised and organised by the British,

is fascinated by the mystique, the powerful morale, of this band of fighting men of many different

Indian provinces, a mystique as remarkable as that of

the totally different French Foreign Legion.

2

Malgonkar has depicted all aspects of army life in his

first novel, Distant Drum. His soldiers belong to an

imaginary regiment called the 4th Satpura Regiment and they

follow certain rigid code.

the Satpura Code thus :

Its Commanding Officer explains

"It is a wide

code in many respects, quite elastic.

We try and live upto

certain broad principles of behaviour. We don’t

always succeed, of course, but we try, very, very

hard.'i

And yet it is a rigid code.

We never say,

"I don't know", we always say

insteadj "I'll find out". That's because we take

our professional responsibilities very, very, seriously."

Distant Drum depicts largely the life of a young officer,

Kiran Garud, who wants to follow the Satpura Code sincerely.

Malgonkar writes :

2. Williams, H.Y. (Calcutta:

3. Manohar Malgonkar, Distant Drum (New Delhi: Orient Paperbacks, 1960), p.9.

Studies in Modern Indian Fiction in English Writers Workshop, 1973),pp.169-1^0.

24

This book (Distant Drum) is largely the story of

the success or failure of the efforts of one of the

officers of the Regiment to live up to its code.

4

And K.R.Srinivasa Iyengar remarks :

Distant Drum is the story of a 'Satpura' Officer, Kiran (Jacko) Garud, who thus becomes a near symbol of

the Satpuras and a vague symbol of the army itself and

its code. Kiran's contacts with his brother officers-

Hindu, Muslim, British—show how, although the code may

be one, individual officers make what they please of it.

5

The novel derives from Malgonkar's personal experience

as an Army Officer. He is able to give an inside picture of

army life as he served in the infantry, in counter - intelligence,

and on the Army General staff during World War II as Lieutenant

Colonel. The episodes of this novel are a direct transcription

of the author's autobiographical experience and he evidently

feels at home in their presentation through Kiran.

Each of these

episodes is a well-built anecdote in itself.

There is a lot of

originality in all his descriptions through out the novel.

Kiran is the embodiment of the Satpura Code. His whole

endeavour is to live up to the Code.

The way he fights in the Burma War in the midst of several

He is brave and courageous.

4. Distant Drum, p .10.

5. Srinivasa Iyengar, K.R.

Indian Writing in English (New Delhi:

Sterling Publishers, 198577 pp.423-424.

25

hardships

and

obstacles

the

spirit of fighting.

shows

his

He

kills

courage

an

enemy

and

fortitude

and

soldier

in

hand-

to-hand

fighting

thrusting his bayonet again and

again.

He

wins

a

Military

Cross

for his courage

and

"exemplary devotion

to duty

in

the

field

of

battle.

It should be seen that there are many other soldiers of

the

Satpura

regiment

who

are

known

for their valour and

fighting spirit.

For instance,

there

is

a

beautiful

description

of

’attacking

Twin

Pagoda

Hill’

wherein Bull Hampton,

a

British

soldier,

though

wounded,

fights

undauntedly.

His

words

are

encouraging,

thrilling

and

hair-raising

while

attacking the

Japanese.

He

shouts

many

a

time

"Come

on Jawans;

Tigers don't

live

for ever."

At

last he dies

while

fighting at

the

top

of

the

hill.

But his

words

continue

to

remain

as

a

source

of

inspiration

The

for many.

Satpuras

are

the

fighting

tigers.

They

fight with

their enemies under any adverse conditions and circumstances

with

unflinching determination

and

tenacity of purpose.

Moreover

they

are

not afraid

of death.

H.M.Williams

rightly

pointsjput

that the

real hero of

the

novel

is

the

Satpura

Regiment

:

Like

Evelyn

Waugh,

though

with

much

greater

simplicity

and

less

wit,

Malgonkar

explores

the

"honour

of the

6.

Distant Drum,

p .24.

 

26

regiment" in Distant Drum (1960) and to some extent

in The Princes (1963). In Distant Drum the real hero

is the regiment, the 4th Satpuras.

the "cultus" of this military corps d'elite (a

The traditions,

microcosm of the Indian Army as a whole) passes from

the British to the Indians after World War II and

to one special Indian Kiran Garud who becomes C.O.

after serving very creditably against the Japanese.

At first Kiran is something of a rebel against the

British and their stiff ritualism. But with the.

British gone he finds the enemies of the regiment

and of the Army

new breed of officer like Kamala Kant with no respect

for the complex and delicate code of honour painfully

built up and sealed with the blood of British and

to be politicians in Delhi and a

Indians alike.

7

Malgonkar writes that there was a fierce fighting between

the Japanese troops and the Satpuras near the Sittang bridge and

also on the either side of the road. Many people were wounded

and some died while fighting. The Satpuras fought bravely though

they lacked certain facilities. Even the night brought no

respite for the soldiers. The war cry "Har-har Mahadev; Har-Har

Mahaaaaadev!" was going on.

Malgonkar mentions the loss of soldiers during this war.

Many soldiers were killed and some were washed away by the

out

Sittang river while crossing it.

7. Williams, H.M.

"Only eight officers^of the

"Manohar Malgonkar : The Captains and The Kings"

The Journal of Indian Writing in English, Vol.8, January-July,

1980, NoS. 1-2, p.41.

27

original fourteen and 193 men of the original 684 had crossed

the Sitting river."

g

The technique of attacking the enemies is also described

in the novel. A British Commander tells Kiran how to attack the

enemies :

"You judge the enemy's strength.

Don't bother about his firepower

too much. Just his strength ;

right ? Then you work out roughly

how many casualties he can inflict on you

while your men are out in the open, doing

the attack. The number of men you'll lose

is very important. On the objective itself,

after you've got there, if you are numerically

superior to the enemy, or even equal to them, then your attack will be a success. You'll

find that a little calculation will show you -

a rough calculation - whether your attack will

succeed; on the objective itself, you must

have at least the same number of men as the enemy. Once your men have closed in,

his firepower, your firepower, don't make much

difference."

9

Malgonkar writes about the motto that was taught by the

British at the Military Academy in Dehra Dun. Kiran joins the

army in 1938. He is taught the following motto, which embodies

the duties and responsibilities of the soldiers.

8. Distant Drum, p.165.

28

The safety, honour and welfare

of your country come first,

always and every time.

The honour, welfare and comfort

of the men you command

come next.

Your own ease, comfort and

safety come last, always

and every time.

.

.

.

10

The Satpura soldiers do not care for the politicians

and they do not like their interference in their routine duties.

They are bold and straight forward and are known for their

honesty and integrity. Kiran as commanding officer in Raniwada

refuses to yield to political pressure. Consider, for example,

the following conversation between Lala Vishnu Saran Dev, the

Chairman of the District Congress Committee and Kiran s

"Coynelsaab, he said, "the Paalitikal Party aaf which

you taak so lightly is ruling thish country today.

The days aaf treating us as a sheditious aargartization

are gone. Now the party and the gournment are the

shame. I would shay that in refuging this ishmall

favour you are running a great rishk. He may complain

to your own minister. You musht remember

that thish will amount to belittling a minister of

the gournment aaf which you are only a servant." Lalajee", he (Kiran) said, quite sternly, "I cannot

take that view and I am not prepared to argue the point. I don't think I can let you have the Shamiana."

10. Distant Drum, p.80

29

"But thish

thish is just like the British days!"

Lalajee exploded. "Who is your shuperior aaficer ?

I will complain to the Deputy Commissioner saab.

shall shend a telegram to Delhi.

It is gournment praaperty.

shamiana.

questions in the Parliament, I will

I will sppeak to him.

I

It is naat your privut

I will ask

"

11

The Satpura soldiers are known for their loyalty and

brotherhood wherever they are and under whatever conditions.

Kiran and Abdul are close friends. They meet under a tree on

the last day of December 1949, though they are in opposite camps

in Kashmir. Fortunately for them war does not break out. Both

drink, Champagne under the 'Bushy-topped * tree

in No-man's

land.

In this sudden and impulsive meeting they remember their

past life — how they had faced difficult situations when they

were together. They were classmates in the Military Academy at

Dehra Dun. Both had fought together in Burma during the Second

World War and later had joined their hands to quell the 1947

riots in Delhi. They had never dreamt that they would meet on

Kashmir issue to make a choice between their personal and

national loyalties.

Kiran Garud excels his own Commanding Officer Ropey Booker

when the latter tried to offer him a lucrative job. Kiran,

though, was facing an enquiry rejects the job of J&.2000 per month.

11. Distant Drum, pp. 60-61.

30

This exhibits the character of Kiran that he is not after money.

But he is devoted to his duty in spite of several hindrances

and hardships. He loves the Indian Army and thinks of educating

the young Indian soldiers. Kiran tells Ropey Booker :

**I feel that

I am one of the few officers of the Indian

army who have had the advantage of what I consider the

proper grounding for all army officers. We are the

privileged ones, those who have been taught by people

like you, and who have

think there are more than three hundred of us who have

gone through a war.

I don’t

had, as it were, a proper

chance to grow up in the army.

It may sound terribly egoistic, but we have at least

had the full treatment-most of the others were rushed

into the war with six months of sketchy training. Some

of them are first class, of course, just as a number of

us, with all our advantages, are second-raters and worse;

but they haven't had the chance that we had. Now the new, post-war officers are beginning to finish their

training and are coming into the army; eager young men

from the Academy.

guard to mould them - just as you and your contemporaries

I feel that it is up to us,

the old

moulded us.

youngsters and to the future army if we were to quit. Well, it is something like those principles that the

We would be failing in our duty to these

Satpuras live by, or try to live up to

.

V

12

Kiran does not want to relinquish his career as a soldier

for the sake of his love for Bina.

army is very important.

12. Distant Drum, pp.251-252.

For him, his career in the

When Mr. Sonal father of Bina, asks

31

him not to write any ietters to her or communicate with her

he candidly replies thus :

I am a career officer.

itself, is a great thing, although in your sense of

To me the army, the profession

values it may rank with the lowest forms of life.

But

I see your point of view,

along with you only for one reason : because I cannot

afford to risk my professional future; to a career

officer like me, it is an unfortunate thing to clash

and I am quite prepared to go

with people of your influence.

only because I want to save something f&r more personal.

My career to me is more important than anything else-

more important than your daughter.

I am ready to give in

13

Indian soldiers were very much influenced by the British.

They closely followed the British even after they left India.

Kiran quite often remembers his favourite commanding officer.

Ropey Booker, whenever he faces a problem.

Whenever Kiran was confronted with .a tricky situation,

he always tried to think out what a British C.0.would

have done xn his place.

14

.

Malgonkar mentions the difference between the food and

the dress habits of the soldiers during the British rule and

the Indian rule.

13. Distant Drum, p.207.

14. Ibid., p.59.

32

In their days you had to wear evening dress at a late

night Cinema show and it was considered improper

to eat Indian food or wear Indian dressy you had to

guard against what they called 'going native' just as

now you had to guard against being regarded as a

'half-Sahib'.15

Malgonkar writes about the drill, bayonet fighting,

firing, throwing grenades, crossing rivers and other activities

of the soldiers particularly at the time of inspection by the

higher authorities.

says :

Colbnel Jones, the C.O. of the Satpuras

The schemes required that the battalion should put

'everything in the shop window*

You had to have

the men drilling, doing P.T, going over the obstacle

course, bayonet fighting, firing on the long and short

ranges, throwing grenades, charging through the

endurance course, and carrying out a river crossing-all

in different batches, but all at the same time. It had

to be noisy and eye-catching

16

Malgonkar describes in detail the British army life in

Chapter

20, namely 'Old Times'.

It throws light on the past

life of Kiran when he joined the 4th Satpuras Regiment.

He wa3

given rigorous training in drill, P.T., obstacle course,

bayonet fighting, firing and others.

15. Distant Drum, p.172.

16. Ibid., p.57.

The senior Indian officers

33

followed the British Public School values as exemplied by

their officers.

It continued even after they left India.

Malgonkar not only praises the army life but also

points out its defects. The soldiers are not well paid# and

they are transferred from place to place quite often. Moreover#

all is not well in the Army Headquarters in Delhi.

When Kiran

is very much upset by the delay and red-tapism in the officers

of the Army Headquarters# Mansingh tells him -

"The Government of India has transformed delay into a

science.

It*s absurd, but no one can do anything about it# not

even the Chief or the P.M.

No use getting hot and bothered about it.

Malgonkar does not portray Kiran as an untarnished hero.

He is not a god but a human being with some weaknesses.

He is

attracted by Mrs. Margot Medley. One day Major Medley finds

Kiran with his wife in his house in Calcutta. Subsequently he

commits suicide by blowing out his head. Kiran feels guilty.

Malgonkar has also shown the harmony and understanding

that existed between the British and the Indian officers. Except

Colonel Manners# all the other officers like Ropey Booker, Bull

Hampton, Girgut Jones, Bertie Howard, Robert Medley and others

show friendliness# courtesy and respect for their Indian

17. Distant Drum# p.109

34

colleagues. Similarly, Indians, except Kamala Kant, show the

same to their British Colleagues.

Malgonkar has pointed out

how Ropey Booker loved his Indian colleagues :

Ropey, Kiran remembers, loved his Jawansj he played

hockey with them, and "he spent ten days of leave

every year in the village home of a retired Subedar Major of the 4th, living with the family the life

of an Indian villager."

18

In this way. Distant Drum holds a mirror to the army

life in general but focuses on the life lived by the Satpura

Regiment.

In his second novel. Combat of Shadows, the army life

does not figure to the same extent. Malgonkar depicts the

life of retired soldiers like Colonel Walters and Captain

Cockburn and young men like Eddie Trevor and Henry who are eager

to join the army.

The retired soldiers do not follow the

Satpura Code.

Even the young men who are eager to join the army

do not display honesty, loyalty, patriotism and devotion to duty.

However, there is a reference to the Indian soldiers who were

guarding the Suez Canal during the Second World War. Jean, the

wife of Henry, on her way back to India from England, is helped

by the Indian soldiers to cross the Suez Canal safely even when

the fierce fighting was going on. She praises the help of Indian

Soldiers. She talks to Henry about this :

18. Distant Drum/ p.142.

'Dogras

and

in

Daddy's

Punjabis,

battalion

Y'know, I'm

were

there.

sure

some

of

the

35

Jawans

It was wonderful to

see them?

Henry,

and

to

think

how

safe

everything was,

just because

they

were

out

there,

guarding

the canal.

So

stern,

so

straight,

on

those

hot,

hot

sands

It should be noted

that

so

*

!

disciplined

19

;

living

Malgonkar depicts

his

in

tents

protagonists

seen

in

as

showing

inclination

to

his novel The Princes

wherein

join

Abhay,

the

army.

This

is

the protagonist

of

the

novel

seeks

the

permission

of

his

father,

Hiroji,

the

Maharaja

of Begwad,

to

his

consent.

But

Abhay

army.

At

last,

Hiroji

join

the

army.

expresses

his

says

:

Hiroji hesitates

strong desire

to

to give

join

"

If you

feel that you must join up,

I

suppose you

just have to go.

The

Bedars

have

I don't

suppose

you

can keep

them

Once,

when

Abhay

had

gone

to

Simla

Captain Punch,

Minnie

Bradley's

lover,

who

always

out

of

been

a

soldiers.

20

war."

he

advises

accidently meets

him

to

join

the

Satpura Regiment

as

they

are known

as

the

'fighting

tigers'.

Abhay joins

Dun

and

the

army

and

works

very hard

goes

to

the

Military Academy at Dehra

for eight months.

Then he

joins

the

Satpura

Regimental

Centre

at

Raniwada.

He

gets

training

at

19. Manohar Malgonkar, Combat of Shadows (London : Hamish Hamilton, 1962), p,164.

20. Manohar Malgonkar, The Princes (Delhi: Hind Pocket Books,

1970),

p.127.

36

various

places

to

validntly.

take

part

in

and

the

at

last,

war.

He

like

too

Kiran

fights

Garud,

with

goes

to Burma

the

Japanese

Dongre,

in

the

One day

a Maratha, to search for the positions of the Japanese

Captain

Tony

Sykes

sends Abhay

and

Jamadar

Ettaw-Kilin

area.

They

go

for patrolling.

At

that

time,

the

Ettaw-Kilin

track

was

with

enemy

troops.

The

Japanese had dug

trenches

in

the

cart-track

and

covered

them

with leaves.

On

the

otherside

of

the

track

they

had

dug

some

holes

in order

to

hide

themselves.

Abhay

says

:

Their purpose

was

only

too clear:

they

would

sit

in

their

foxholes,

guarding

the

track,

and

ambush

any

of

our

troops

that happened

to

come

along

It.***

 

In their

endeavour,

Captain

Sykes

and

Jamadar

Dcjgre

are killed

by

the

Japanese

as

they

fail

to

foresee

the

"tactics

of

the

enemies

while

Abhay

survives.

 

Like

Kiran

Garud,

Abhay

is

also

the

embodiment

of the

Satpura code. He displays courage, skill, adventure, devotion

to duty

and

fighting

spirit during the

Burma war.

Therefore,

he

is

awarded

Military

Cross

by

the

British

government.

Hiroji

praises

the

achievements

of his

son,

Abhay,

as a soldier. Then

Abhay

spends

the

21.

The

Princes,

remaining years

p.204.

(1943

to

1945)

of the

war as

a

37

staff Officer at General Headquarters in New Delhi,

He

works

in

one

of

the

sections

of the

Intelligence

Directorate

which

dealt with

internal

security,

first as a staff Captain,

and

later

as

a Major,

He

works

honestly

and

sincerely.

So he

is kept in General Headquarters for a long time.

At

last he

tenders

his

resignation

in

1946

in

order

to

help

his

father

in

the

administration

of

the

Begwad

state.

 
 

Army

life

does

not

figure

at

length

in

A

Bend

in

the

Ganges. However thezre is a mention of the Japanese invasion

of

the

Andamans

and

the

retreat

of

the

British

soldiers.

The

Japanese

soldiers

led

by

Colonel Yamaki capture

the

Andaman

 

islands

and

set

free

the

Indian

prisoners

who were

kept

in

the

Cellular Jail.

Colonel Yamaki

tells

Debi-dayal

to

join

the

Indian

National

Army

which

was

commanded

by

Subhas

Bose

:

'

Subhas

Bose

will

lead

the

army,

the

Indian National

Army

-

lead

it

all

the

way

to

Delhi.

That

is

what we

will do,

we

and

you

together—capture Delhi.

Now

I

Mulligan

invite you to

join

The

are

characters

like

also

soldiers.

this

army.'

22

Gopal

Chandidar and

Mr.Patrick

Malgonkar

has

not described

them

more

as

soldiers.

Gopal

Chandidar,

the

husband

of

Sundari,

joins

the

army

and

goes

to

Middle

East,

He

fights

bravely

22.

Manohar Malgonkar,

1964),

Paperbacks,

A

p.217.

Bend

in

the

Ganges

(New

Delhi:

f

Orient

and courageously.

So he is awarded the Military Cross 'in

the fighting for the relief of Tobruk*.

And Mr.Patrick

38

Mulligan, the superintendent of the Cellular Jail# was a

Corporal before joining the Indian police.

In The Devil* s Wind Malgonkar depicts

the life of

Nana Saheb# Tantya Topi and the Rani of Jhansi as soldiers

who are known for their valour# patriotism and fighting

spirit. In fact# they are the very important persons who

revolted against the British Rule in 1857. Malgonkar has

portrayed Nana Saheb more as a soldier than as a Peshwa.

He

is known for his active organisation and

part i'rTc ±pation

in the Revolt of 1857.

picture of the life of Nana Saheb.

The British have given a distorted

They consider him as a

great criminal.

Few names are more conspicuous in the annals of crime than that of Nana Saheb, who achieved an immortality

of infamy by his perfidy and cruelty at Cawnpore.

2 3

But from the Indian point of view he is a great soldier

who has fought for the liberation of India. The nationalists

like V.D.Savarkar and others have described the revolt as 'The

First War of Independence.' Malgonkar mentions in his Author's

23. A Miles and A. Pattle,

The Indian Mutiny# London# 1885.

Note

to

do

not

the

book

that

some

of

the

furnish

the

details of the

and

impartially.

books

life

39

written on Nana Saheb

of Nana

Saheb

currently

Every book

is

written

in

anger

and

in everyone

the

principal villain

is

the

same

:

Nana

Saheb

-

infamous

dastardly,

despicable,

crafty demon,

barbarous

butcher,

and

arch

assassin,

Nana.

In

England

he

replaced

Napoleon

Bonaparte

as

the

hate

object of

a

nation

when

freedom

came,

India

acclaimed

Nana

Saheb

as

a

hero

and

raised

a

memorial

to

him,

at Bithoor,

which

bears

this

inscription

:

HIS

KNOWING

HE

THE

EMBRACED

DANGERS

A

REVOLT

SACRIFICE

SHALL

LIGHT

OUR PATH

LIKE

AN

ETERNAL

FLAME

He

does

not

Indian nationalists.

accept

the

He

takes

views

of

the

British

and

the

a

balanced

view of

the

sepoy

Revolt

of

1857.

So

James

Y.

Dayananda

remarks

that

"in

Malgonkar*s view,

then

the

Revolt

of

1857

was

more

than the

Sepoy Mutiny but

less

than

the

First War of Independence."

25

He

has

not

only

taken

a

balanced

view

of

the

revolt

but

also

taken

a

correct view

of

the

life

of Nana

as

a

soldier.

He

has

recreated

Nana

in

his

novel

and

has depicted

him

as

a

human

being.

24,

Manohar Malgonkar, The Devil's Wind Books, 1988), p.ix.

(New

Delhi:

Penguin

25.

James Y.Dayananda,

Manohar

Malgonkar

(Boston:

Twayne

Publishers,

1974),p.147.

40

As a boy, Nana learnt horse riding and fighting with swords. He practised fighting with swords with the children

of the followers of Bajirao II.

Soon after the death of

Bajlrao II, Nana began to face many problems. The British

did not give him

the pension, nor continue the title. So he

sent Azim to England to plead for his rights. But the British

did not pay heed to his words. Thereafter, he thought that 'War' was the only alternative to get back his title and land

and freedom.

Nana Saheb is depicted as a good organizer of the army.

He organises and advises people to revolt against the British as they were exploiting and ill treating the natives. Nana

visits the Maratha princes and prepares them for war. He fights bravely and sincerely against the British soldiers in

Kanpur and other places. But finally, he is defeated by the

British.

So he goes to Nepal with some of his followers to

live in oblivion.

Another important character of the novel is Tantya

Bhat, who is later nicknamed as Tantya Topi.

Like Nana, he

is also brave, courageous, patriotic and a good soldier.

It

is he who teaches Nana how to fight with a Sword.

He joins

the Company’s Cavalry to learn their war tactics.

Malgonkar

writes :

41

Tantya Bhat had joined the Company ’s cavalry for six

months to see for himself what it was that made the

British invincible in war, and had come back with

the conviction that the British were not invincible.

26

Malgonkar has not written much about the Rani of Jhansi*

As a girl she learns horse-riding and fighting with a sword.

She is better than Nana at riding, swordsmanship and swimming.

She is bold and courageous. Malgonkar writes :

She was like someone in a fable, a symbol more than an actual person; harsh, unbending audacious, and yet

with a tenderness that was wholly feminine; cold and deliberate in spite of her fiery temper, and impishly

impulsive too; a supple, athletic, hard-gained

b

creature of the wind and the sun with the boldly

sensuous configuration of a stone goddess.

She was

yet all woman who could make your heart turn to water

with a mere look.

27

After the death of her husband, she requests' the British

to recognize her rights and privileges.

But the British refuse

to comply.

against the British till the end of her life.

So she revolts. She fights bravely and undauntedly

Like Nana Saheb, Tantya Topi and the Rani of Jhansi,

there were many soldiers who fought courageously for the

26. The Devil ’s Wind, p.26.

27. Ibid., p.31.

42

freedom

of

the

country.

Malgonkar

writes

about

the

protests

of

the

Indian

soldiers

against use

of

the

grease

smothered

cartridges

which

had

to

be

bitten

before

loading

them

into

the

gun.

Nana

says

:

 

The

Company

had

introduced

a

new

rifle

and

a

new

cartridge.

The

cartridges#

made

of

paper,

were

smothered with grease,

and

to break

them

open

before

loading

they

had

to

be

bitten.

In the

barracks

at

Dum

Dum

someone

told

someone

else

that the

grease

was

made

from

the

fat of pigs

and

cows.

And

suddenly

a

wave

of

panic

and

imagination

shook

the

land.

,

To

a

Hindu,

the

cow

is

a

sacred

animal,

the

mother

of

the

universe?

to

a

Muslim,

a

pig

is

the

The

filthiest of God’s creatures.

2 8

Indian

soldiers,

in

the

beginning

protested

courteously

and

hesitantly.

But

they

were

mercilessly

punished

and

were

sent

to the

jails.

There

after

they

revolted

in

many

places

like

Meerut,

Kanpur,

Delhi

and

others.

They

fought

vali&ntly»but

in

vain,against

the

British.

Their

struggle

for

Independence

was

not

successful.

Life

of

soldiers

Mansingh,

the protagonist

figures

of

the

in

Spy

novel,

ts

in

a

Amber

typical

too.

;

Colonel

Satpura

soldier.

He

is

He

successfully

28.

The

Devil’s

bold,

adventurous,

intelligent

and

patriotic.

safeguards

the

valuable

things

of

the

Panchen

Wind,

p .109

43

Lama with the help of Air Vice Marshall Prakash Kirpal Cp.k'),

the Chief of Military Intelligence.

Malgonkar presents the life of Satpura soldiers in. the

novel. Bandicoot Run also.

Kiran Garud, the protagonist of the

novel Distant Drum appears in this novel as one of the major

characters of the novel. The other prominent characters are

K.Y.T. Nadkar, known to his friends as ’Kite' Nadkar, and Colonel

Pulla Reddy. Nadkar, though retired, continues to guide and

help the Satpura soldiers whenever they come to him for guidance

and help.

Malgonkar describes their honesty, sincerity, courage,

adventure, patriotism and mutual help during crises in detail.

At the same time he writes about the selfish,: hypocritic and

corrupt soldiers like General Shamlal Behl and the retired

Major B.G.Gilchrist. This novel seems to be the extension of

his first novel. Distant Drum, as it describes the life and the

court-martial of Kiran Garud by his own colleague General

Shamlal Behl and the attempts made by his friends to save him

from the trouble.

In doing so, they divulge the misdeeds of

the real villain General Behl.

The friendship between Kiran

Garud and Abdul Jamal is described again in this novel.

Look

at the following conversation between Colonel Pulla Reddy and

Nadkar,

Pulla Reddy says :

44

"You remember that business of Jack)Garud and his

Pakistani friend, chap called Abdul Jamal# drinking

Champagne in No-man's land?"

Nadkar no&ied.

I was still

"I'd heard'about that.

in the

army at the time.

background."

But I don't know the

Pulla Reddy says :

" They remained the best of friends. They were

with the battalian, the 4th in the Burma debacle.

Later during the war, they got separated; Jacko Garud

stayed with the battalian# and Abdul Jamal got posted

as a Staff Captain to the 17th Corps H.Q."

>9

There is a lot of autobiographical element in this novel

which describes the retired life of soldiers. It seems that

Nadkar is Malgonkar himself since there are many similarities.

For instance, Nadkar lives in an estate called Satnala in North

Kanara district after his retirement. Malgonkar lives in an

estate near Jagalbet which is also in the same district.

Malgonkar writes :

Kite Nadkar's 'place of retirement'# was a small

estate called Satnala in the extreme north of the North

Canara district, almost on the border of Goa, where his

maternal grandfather had lived all his life and which

had come

30

to him on the old man's death.

29. Manohar Malgonkar, Bandicoot Run (New Delhi: Orient Paper­ backs, 1982), p.147.

45

Like Malgonkar, Nadkar is a good big-game hunter at

first, but later gives

it up.

He continues to love

the jungles^

Even though he had quite given up shooting what was termed big-game. Kite Nadkar still loved the jungles, like another man might love his garden, as he would explain, or a hill-man his mountains, and his greatest pride and boast was that he knew the jungles as well

as any man alive except Jim Corbett,

,

.

31

Like Malgonkar, Nadkar serves in the army honestly and

sincerely in different places and in various capacities. After

his assignment in the Army Headquarters in Delhi, he resigns

from the army. Like Malgonkar, he takes to agriculture.

In his latest novel, The Garland Keepers, Malgonkar

depicts the life of a Pakistani soldier, Naik Fida Ali, who

later becomes ’Rajguru'. As a soldier he

suffers,

a lot at the

hands of his higher officers.

So he runs away and becomes

a

swami.

Malgonkar's short stories like 'A Little Sugar, A

Little Tea', 'Bachcha Lieutenant', 'Green Devils', 'Tactical

Surprise', 'Camouflage Tactics', 'Top Cat',' 'Pack Drill',

'Suleman's Courier', 'Give Away Trouble' and 'A Run of Scotch

Salmon' describe different aspects of the active life and life of

31, Bandicoot Run, p.57.

46

retirement of soldiers during war and peace. There is

depiction of the life of Brigadiers, Colonels, Lieutenant

Colonels, Majors, Captains and their subordinates who are

brave, adventurous, honest and patriotic and also those who

are dishonest, corrupt, hypocritic, selfish and unpatriotic.

Malgonkar describes an irresponsible Commanding Officer

and his dishonest subordinate officer in the story 'A Little

Sugar, A Little Tea’. Once, an Adjutant arranges for inspection

of his Company by the Brigadier Murray in the absence of his

Commanding Officer, Major Maxwell who had gone to fishing without

informing the higher authorities.

Brigadier Murray asks the

Adjutant the reason for the absence of C.O. The Adjutant tells

a lie that Mrs. Maxwell was unwell in Delhi.

The Brigadier

inspects the company.

Next day, the Brigadier, just before his

departure to Delhi, tells the Adjutant that he saw Susan

Maxwell who looked well. Thus he gives a 'shock treatment.'

He says :

*1 saw Susan Maxwell on my last evening in Delhi, long

before Spike is supposed to have left here? fit as a

fiddle

fit as a fiddle

The Adjutant had made a fool of himself by telling a lie about

his irresponsible Commanding Officer to the Brigadier.

32. Manohar Malgonkar, Bombay Beware (New Delhi : Orient Paperbacks, 1975), p.14.

47

The story 'Bachcha Lieutenant' describes the tactics

of the Japanese soldiers in order to trap the enemies during

the Second World war. The same tactics are described in the

novel. The Princes also. Jamadar Tukaram Shindey sees nearly

thirty Japanese soldiers dig some pits in the Taungdow Track

and cover them with leaves and mud. Intelligence Officer,

Lt.Wilson, who is popularly known as "Bachcha Lieutenant" as

he is only nineteen years old, comes in search of Tukaram and

goes towards Taungdow Track. As soon as Tukaram notices

Lt. Wilson he shouts at him and tells him not to go further.

But Lt.Wilson goes further only to die. Tukaram fights alone

with the enemies courageously till the end of his life. There

is an autobiographical element in the portrayal of the

character of Tukaram. Like Malgonkar, Tukaram belongs to North

Kanara district. He is a big-game hunter and also participates

in the Burma War.

of this sort

alone. He was a jungleman, born and brought up in

the jungles of North Kanara,

He always preferred to go on a patrol

and he used to be a

big-game tracker before lie joined the army. To him, there was nothing strange to the Burmese jungles. He

could move in them as silently as any animal of the

jungle itself, and

own, he could get all the information they wanted.

as long as he was sent out on his

33

33. Bombay Beware, pp. 58-59

In

the

story,

'Camouflage

Tactics'

48

Malgonkar has

pointed out how the soldiers are deprived of their facilities due to red-tapism and individual differences among officers.

The Army Headquarters in Delhi, many a time, plans to provide certain facilities to the patrolling parties of the soldiers.

But

as different

officers

think differently

over

the

matter

Mansingh

of

the

Planning Directorate

has

to

type

and

retype

the

list.

problems

In

'Sulemnn's

by

a

Courier',

the

writer brtnn3

as

a

out the

the

faced

soldier who works

courier of

tribal chief, Suleman. Captain Mansingh, the narrator-hero, goes to Bombay to bring a package belonging to Suleman Pasha,

one

of

the

tribal

Chiefs

of

Baluchistan.

 

While,

on

the

way

to

Zahidan,

Mansingh

reads

in

a

newspaper

that

the

'TRIBAL

 

CHIEF

FLEES'.

So

he

takes

the

packages

to

the

war

office

of

the General. They think that the packages contain explosives. But, when they open the packages cautiously they find cigars,

perfumes

and

six bottles

of medicine

youthful vigour

in

three hours.

guaranteed

to

restore

Malgonkar describes

the

soldiers humorously.

In

'Green

unofficial activities

of

the

Devils'

he

writes

about the

problem

by

the

of keeping

soldiers

the

beer bottles

was

in

the house

The

when

there

prohibition.

in

Bombay

story,'Blame

49

the Army’, describes how the two soldiers who are the manager

and the leader of the workers of the Blurock Mines succeed in

avoiding the strike and non-cooperation of the workers.

Chandan Singh appears to be an honest person, who is interested

the owner of

the Blurock Mines and not the workers. 'Tactical Suprise' is

not a serious story.

in the welfare of the

workers.

In fact, he helps

It merely presents the competition

between two soldiers, who are also room-mates, to dance with an American stage and screen star. Miss Carman Sheridan. The love of British soldiers for animals like dogs and cats is

described in the story, 'Top Cat'.

The stories like 'Pack

Drill', 'Give Away Trouble' and 'A Run of Scotch Salman' are

not serious stories as they deal with insignificant events.

It is to be noted that Malgonkar has not portrayed all the soldiers as brave, honest, loyal, sincere, patriotic

and adventurous.

There are some soldiers like Kamala Kant,

Rawal Singh, Shamlal Behl, B.G. Gilchrist and others who do

not believe in the Satpura code.

But they are all minor

characters. Kamala Kant, for instance, as the C.O. of the 4th Satpuras at Raniwada after Kiran Garud, fails to bring glory to and even discipline in the Regiment in spite of his radical ideas. He himself is not disciplined. The other

characters like Shamlal Behl and Rawal Singh are cowards,

selfish, dishonest, and unpatriotic.

50

Even the British soldier.

Major B.G. Gilchrist, is dishonest and selfish.

In conclusion, it could be said that Malgonkar has portrayed the life of soldiers in all its variety and richness. He has idealised the army life. His protagonists like Kiran

and Abhay believe in values like honesty, integrity, dignity,

discipline, secularism and patriotism.

He has shown the

genuine friendship between the British and Indians. Besides he has neither exaggerated nor condemned the Indians while comparing them with the British soldiers. He has also pointed out through Kiran-Abdul episode how the army during the Partition period, when the communal frenzy had gripped the country, rose above the divisive forces and maintained its

reputation of secularity. They saved the lives of both the

Hindus and the Muslims.

Thus, he has successfully, depicted

the spirit of soldiers, their ideals, their singular devotion to duty and valour in the wake of crisis and also their

shortcomings and depressions.