ORWELL SPOKE TRUTH ALWAYS
George Orwell Always Spoke the Truth
by Jay Dubashi, Samachar.com, Hindustan Times
George Orwell, one of the greatest writers of the 20th century, was born a hundred years ago on June 25, 1903, in a place called Motihari, at that time in Bengal. After the partition of Bengal, Motihari became part of Bihar, and it is now in Bihar. Orwell is thus a Bengali, Bihari, Indian and an English man and for a while was also a Burmese, having worked in Burma as a member of the Imperial Police Service, or IPS, when Burma was part of India. But it is not as a policeman that we remember Orwell. After he chucked up his job in Burma, he became a writer in England, and a socialist, though he was not a member of any party. And it is as a socialist writer that he is known today, not just any socialist writer but as the author of such classics as “Animal Farm” and “Nineteen Eighty-Four”....
I came to know Orwell a year or so after his “Animal Farm”. I had gone to attend a dinner which London Majlis, an organisation of Indian students in London had arranged for its annual day. It was rather a crowded Chinese restaurant in the West End of London, near the theatre district and I was taken to a table which was occupied by three persons whom I had never met before. One was E M Forster, author of “A Passage to India” and other novels, Stephen Spender, a poet, who later became Sir Stephen Spender, and George Orwell. I sat next to Orwell, just before the waiters started serving soup.
A Chinese restaurant, an Indian society and an English author it was a strange combination. I did not know Orwell but I had of course heard of him and had in fact corresponded with Penguin publishers for the rights to translate the book in a couple of Indian languages. I asked Orwell whether his publishers had succeeded in getting a publisher in India.
He said he didn’t know, as he did not concern himself with such things. His publishers were good people and they would find a publisher in India, if they were really interested, he said. But tell me more about India, he asked. Nehru was about to visit London for talks with the British cabinet and the place was full of all sorts of rumours about India. In fact, India was very much in the news at the time and I recall that we talked about nothing but India during the dinner. Forster told me that he had visited India before the war and would like to visit the country again, maybe after Independence.....
Orwell's office was just behind India House in Strand, which housed the offices of Indian High Commissioner in London. So I started going to India House, had a coffee in its canteen and visited Orwell in his office in Strand. He used to write a weekly column for “Tribune” called “As I please”, which was not so much a political column as Orwell’s views on everything on earth from chipmunks in his garden to the goings-on in Russia. But one thing Orwell never forgot, his love for the common man, the working man, who was his standard of measure for everything, from literature to music, and his faith in the goodness of the working man in general....
A few months after Nehru left, Orwell’s new novel “Nineteen Eighty-Four” came out. By that time, Orwell had become so famous that the arrival of his new novel was treated as a great news occasion, with front page headlines in newspapers like `The Times’ and the `Guardian’. Orwell’s publishers sent me a copy and also invited me to a reception for the launch of the novel. However, Orwell was not there and my inquiries about him were met with polite excuses.
Actually Orwell was indeed in London, but in a hospital not far from India House. He had been brought to London for treatment for tuberculosis and lay in University Hospital in Russell Square. When I went to visit him, I found that he had become so thin that I doubt whether I would have recognised him had I met him in the street.
He had also got married, to a woman who worked in a magazine company. Since I had never met her before, I had no idea who she was. Orwell himself was in no position to speak, though he did utter a few words from time to time. I asked him whether he was still keen to visit India. “Oh, yes” he said, “Don’t forget, I am an Indian and was born there.” He was actually leaving for Switzerland for a holiday and would start on his new novel on return. Would that be about India, I asked. “I do not know,” he said, “it could be. Now that you people are free, anything is possible’’.
Anything was not possible. He could not go to Switzerland and died in the Russell Square hospital a few days after I had met him. He died on a Saturday, 21st January 1950. I know the day very well for the news was announced by the BBC on Sunday, as I was making my breakfast. I had just heated my milk and was making some toast when the BBC announced that George Orwell had passed away during the night. He was only 46.
I still have his books and the weekly columns he wrote for “Tribune”. I have some notes too, and some doodles on papers as we waited for our meals in his favourite Trafalgar Square restaurant. He wrote exactly as he spoke, and he always spoke the truth."
~ end quoting from George Orwell Always Spoke the Truth, by Jay Dubashi ~
SHRINE TO ORWELL
Novelist George Orwell Always Spoke the Truth. Samachar.com, Hinudstan Times
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