The Age of Innocence

The Age of Innocence
Me with my Mother

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

My father's work with the War Crimes Investigation Committee

Excerpt from Eaten by the Japanese: The Memoir of an Unknown Indian Prisoner of War:


On 1 October 1945, I was taken on the staff of the War Crimes Investigation Committee. Capt. McLillian and Capt. Foster of Auxiliary (India) Force, Capt. Munro, 1st Hyderabad Infantry, and I, comprised the staff. We were asked to investigate charges against the Japanese under the War Crimes Act, hold courts of Enquiries, collect evidence, et cetera and submit the proceedings to 11th Division HQ. This work kept me busy the whole day.

About one hundred and sixty proceedings were submitted, the most notable among them being a case of cannibalism. I give a precis.  .....
.....
The prisoners in New Guinea had fared a worse fate. Out of a total of three thousand men, only two hundred had survived. Most of them died of starvation, fatigue, and disease. Some had been eaten by the Japanese. In New Britain, out of a total of eleven thousand men, five thousand three hundred were alive, including nearly one thousand hospital cases.
END OF EXCERPT

My comment: A very high casualty rate indeed--2800 dead out of 3000. My father was lucky to be in the group that had a 50% mortality rate, and to be one of the lucky 50%. Had it not been otherwise, you would not be reading this blog today. Also, it was solely my decision to publish the book, with my funds, and an extraordinary amount of time--that included missteps, cheating by printers and other middlemen, badly produced books, until, learning from my mistakes, I came out with 1,500 copies of a classy, professionally produced paperback (most of which were destined to rot in various storage locations, partly because of India's difficult distribution system) in late 1999. Until, thanks to Createspace, I produced a new paperback in 2013.

For your convenience, here are a few links to the book:


PAPERBACK:
Eaten by the Japanese (latest edition): https://www.createspace.com/4014767

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Fighting for Christ the Lord ... The New Preface to The Killing of an Author

New Preface (October 2014) [Book is also now a paperback on Createspace.]
 
Recently, thanks to a chance meeting with a childhood friend, I understood why I had really written The Killing of an Author.

As a boy of 11--at an age when American boys are usually playing with their Lego collections, and Indian children of my social class, then, were playing rubber-ball cricket or throwing stones at cashew and mango trees--I enlisted in the Army of Christ. And, as an enlisted serviceman, I ultimately ended up doing a lot of fighting ... though not for Christ.

To begin at the beginning: In a country that has 43 Hindus for every Christian, I was born, in Bangalore, to Roman Catholic parents. Moving to my parents’ home town, Mangalore (which sometimes refers to itself as “the Rome of the East”), at age 6, I grew up a devout Catholic, brainwashed into believing that martyrdom was the only guaranteed path to sainthood and immortality.

Attaining sainthood, I realized, was very hard work: like studying for the most difficult exam you could ever imagine, but studying, not just for a few years, but for all your miserable, self-flagellating life, and being better at it than most others.

However, there was one shortcut to sainthood (a shortcut that appealed to my lazy self): martyrdom. The deal was this: All you had to do was offer your neck, at the right time, for Christ the Lord (or Mary, his mother; no, Joseph was not good enough). And no matter how sinful your life had been until that moment, if you recognized the error of your ways just minutes before your beheading or deep-frying (or whichever inventive and kinky method your persecutors used), and so long as you had mentally repented your past sins, and so long as you were clearly sacrificing your life for the True Faith, you were guaranteed martyrdom—which, in effect, also guaranteed sainthood.

However, just to be sure, and just to strengthen my spiritual C.V. (which would be examined by the Pope, as well as by Saint Peter, before I was granted sainthood), I joined the Sodality of Our Lady, a Catholic youth organization whose anthem was this martial song:

An army of youth

Flying the standards of truth

We’re fighting for Christ the Lord!

Heads lifted high

Catholic Action our cry

And the Cross Our Only Sword!

... Mary's Son, Till the World is Won
We Have Pledged You Our Loyal Word!


The Cross Our Only Sword! Till the World is Won! So, at the age of 11 or 12, I had been brainwashed into becoming a sword-wielding crusader, for I had now been told that it was not enough to follow Christ; one had to fight for Him. It was a marching song, with a marching beat, and I think, during one or two of our processions, we actually did a bit of marching--though no goose-stepping.

And, though, as a mere first year high school student, I outperformed college seniors to win first prize in the Sodality’s Religious Quiz, there followed, four years later, a stunning reversal: at 16, I rejected the program of being a crusader and martyr for Christ, having woken up to the realization that my past beliefs were a lot of clever hokum, and that I had spent eight of the best years of my childhood believing in that program and shunning many other possible pleasures.

What I didn’t realize, at the time of my “liberation,” was that history often repeats itself, and would in this case repeat itself, in disguise ... [Continued in the book, where half of this chapter is in the Preface, and the remaining half in Epilogue II; please find my links below. This story will also be told in The Last Catholic Colony, a book that needs funding now: http://www.gofundme.com/LastCatholic )


Google Play: http://bit.ly/1oX5jsN
Amazon Kindle UK: http://amzn.to/iUbcHw
Createspace paperbacks: http://bit.ly/1o9LVZq
 

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Chairman of Six Land Tribunals, and Much Else

I had a life before this, a life that was very different--and I plan to write a bit about it in a short book, very soon.

Among other things, I was the Chairman of six land tribunals. We had around five or six members, and I think I had a deciding vote. The land tribunal judged cases in which tenants were entitled to land because they had been in possession of it, or cultivating it long enough--and awarded them to tenants, where there was proof enough of their cultivation and possession.

This was one of my most delightful roles ever: to give land to people who I considered poor and oppressed. If I could favor a tenant or a landless person, I did. No landlord reading this is going to feel happy about what I did. If the evidence was a bit murky, at least my tendency was to vote on the side of the tenant.

I don't know to what extent the evidence was fixed, to what extent I was a mere rubber stamp. This was complicated stuff, and besides having to travel to five of these taluk headquarters to preside over Land Tribunal Meetings, I was also:
The Subdivisional Magistrate for an area the size of Rhode Island.
The Subdivisional Revenue Officer.
Chairman of the Subdivisional Development Council.
Returning Officer for Assembly Elections and many other local elections
and, many other things, last but not least of which was:

Being the 25-Year-Old Guy Who Took the Salute at the Independence Day and Republic Day Parades.That was a hoot. I had to give a speech too, in Kannada, and in a photograph (that I don't think I have with me), you can notice people sniggering in the background.

Well, nobody's perfect.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Decline of Indian Independence

Sixty-seven years after India's independence from Britain, the freedom of Indians has suffered ... and often, at the hands of Indians themselves, even though a few of these work for foreign-owned corporations. For me, 1993 and 1994 represented the height of Indian independence. March 1993 was when Penguin India's David Davidar accepted my novel, The Revised Kama Sutra; in early 1994, it was enthusiastically welcomed by most of the media, despite using language and daring that had not been seen before in any book published in India, in any language--possibly since the original Kama Sutra itself, which is completely clinical and unembarrassed about sex. In 2000, Impressing the Whites received considerable attention from the media--and considerable sales. And then, the Indian Ayatollahs went to work, suppressing their own author. Impressing the Whites disappeared from the shelves, the debate (even the criticism) stopped, and there was no welcome for any Richard Crasta book, past or present: it was as if selective amnesia had descended on literary circles (or worse ....).

I regret to say that, in 2014, I feel that the decline of Indian independence continues (and not just with the takeover of independent newspapers and media organization by tycoons); few dare to question power, especially the power of publishers: mostly, this silence is for selfish reasons, and the result of cowardice. And so, if you write a courageous book that dares the Big Boys ... you're on your own, kiddo.

But if you do care about freedom, and equal freedom, four books I would recommend--my contribution to resisting the invisible limits to  freedom: all of these books, directly or in their execution, argue for the right of Indian writers to write like any other writers in the world, without being pigeonholed, typecast, and restricted to the ghetto of "exotic" writing: The Revised Kama Sutra; Beauty Queens, Children and the Death of Sex; Impressing the Whites; and The Killing of an Author. All but the fourth are available on Amazon. The fourth, and the rest, are available from most other platforms. By the way, a few of these books are available, in their paperback/hardcover first editions, at:
Writers and Books, University Avenue, Rochester, New York.