Letter from Savitri Devi to Professor A – 17 May 1978
17 May 1978
Dear comrade and friend,
Many, many hearty thanks for your kind letter and your most touching gift of $100 (one hundred dollars), which will serve me to expedite more books by air mail — and first to pay the last 650 rupees I owe to the printer (still!) for the binding. (I had asked him to have the last copies bound more solidly — which he says he did, but I was to pay 1,250 rupees extra!)
Please don’t bear any grudge to me when I don’t write. My eyes of course are giving me no end of trouble (with the right one I see just outlines in a haze). But there is more — the heat of Delhi in this season (before the blessed rains, about the end of June or beginning of July). My tiny flat (one room and kitchen) is “north south”; I should have a breeze; in fact what I get when I open the window is — gushes of hot, burning air, as out of the “gueloir” (I don’t know the English name for it) of a “convertisseur Bessemer” in a steel plant, when the red flame juts out of the reclining apparatus, and the cast iron (that has now become steel) pours from it. My eyes ache in that torrid wind. (There is no one living “above me” — so that the Sun strikes the roof of my room all day.) The temperature in my room under the fan (that does not always work, alas! we have daily cuts of current for one hour or two) is the same as out of doors in the shade, i.e., some 45 or 46 degrees centigrade. Now you can imagine what it is like out of doors in the Sunshine. And I have to walk some 200 or 250 meters in the Sun to go and buy food for my cats — were it for myself, I’d rather go without — and, a little more to go and try to get a conveyance to take me to this or that pupil. (Now I have no job; I have to live on private pupils.) Tomorrow, Friday, I have a lesson to a group — better paid. It brings me some $50 a month. But I come home from it at 3 o’clock in the afternoon and can hardly drag myself upstairs. That’s India — at least Delhi (I have learnt what a “climat continental” means, by now. Calcutta is a little better due to the vicinity of the sea. But the dampness there).
There is nothing like Europe, really. And if I had no cats, I should go back at once. But I can’t abandon those creatures who love me, who have put their trust in me, going upon my lap and purr. I could put them in charge of Miss Rogers and the “Animal Friends” shelter for a few days, perhaps even some months, but a shelter is a shelter, not a home. And they are used to a home — although they wander away from it quite often (they are cats) and alas, sometimes never come back (as my lovely white and yellow big “tom,” who left on January 20th and was never seen again. Killed by a dog? A man? Run over by a car? I don’t know, worried and worried, to no end).
Moreover, what would I live on in Europe? Here I have a “circle” of pupils. There I should have to create one from scratch. But it is a fact that as I grow old (73 in September) I put up with this climate less and less. Anyhow a day will come when all will be ended — aBlessed day! But I should like to finish my Tyrtaios first (thanks, by the way, thanks over and over again for the papers about his work) and write my Ironies et paradoxes (in French or English, I don’t know yet). About the ironies of history (Clara Hitler dying of cancer in December 1907 and sighing — “My poor dear Adolf! What will he possibly do in life with no diplomas, no job, nobody to help him!” Adolf — then 18 years old — had come from his miserable life in Vienna for a time, to be at his mother’s side.)
Could anybody have told her: “He? He’ll march through History as a God — Thousands will love him, kill and die, and be tortured for his sake — Millions will hate him — But He is one of the greatest Ones”? And could she have believed it?
History has such ironies. No more now, but my [illegible] thanks. 9:15 in the morning and the air already burning — unbearable.
With my regards to your daughter and my ritual salutation — unchanged — to you,
Savitri Devi Mukherji