The jail seems to be a popular hideout for the government who when if wants to conceal one’s identity or presence. I had received this letter of a guest we are going to have in today two days back. He is a spy from one of our neighbouring countries. The letter that came to me was not a sort of official letter. It was like a note you have to do this as favour. I do not owe them any favour but still they treat this thing as they owe a favour from me.
This man arrived. He is six feet and two inch and of muscular and lean stature with cat brown eyes. He was not chained or handcuffed. He just walked silently with his head held high. His presence has the calmness of the air before strike of a storm. He can be considered as some model or movie actor if you don’t know the real identity of him.
After Das Gupta leave all the charge to me, standing on the office’s threshold, he had pointed at the third floor and said, “used that floor if you want to hide some-one or thing.” So the official note or letter had mentioned to treat this prisoner with utmost importance. I decided to put him up on the third floor at the only cell which was useable—the forgotten hero’s cell or the corner cell. He looked around the cell and sat down on the bed. The cell was smelling foul and rotten but it seems that didn’t bother him much. I checked on the rods of the gate which seems to weak compare to his strong big hand. He can easily break the rods of the gate which has become weak with time. I had posted Tilak outside his cell for the night. Other time I have decided to leave him alone.
The first storm of the season had hit this evening. Now it is calm and composed with full moon spreading its silver all over the land. The prison seems to be a gray box standing beside a river and waiting to get unpacked. I was struck at the prison till the late evening. Joseph in that meanwhile told me a story. It was rather the history of the corner cell.
It was 1942. The jailer of the prison was Raymond McGraften. He was known for the torture he used to inflict on his prisoners. Whenever there is need of extracting information from a freedom fighter or a revolutionary, he used to be sent to him. He arrived in this jail on December 1941. The higher officials were very pleased with him for his techniques to extract the information. So they send him here.
As soon as he arrived here, he started his procedure. On the night he arrived, he killed a prisoner and pieces the body. Then with his own hands he threw the splinters of the meats to the crocodiles.
He distastes the idea of being a blank space in the third floor. It was a shabby corner at the connection of the cell. It was dark and cold—perfect place for a chamber of tortures. He was more elated when he found out the screams of the prisoners reach every corner every floor of the prison.
In 1944 May or June it was, he was found death in that chamber on the bed. It is said he used to sometimes stroll around the floors and if he want used to enter a prisoner’s cell and start beating with his fat iron stick. That night he was on such stroll. The death of him was under mysterious circumstances. The healthy man was found death without a drop of blood in his body. On further finding it was found, he used to sleep in his torture chamber on that iron bed. And in last few months of his life he had stopped liking the torture.
No prisoner died or was tortured in the last three months of his life.
In these few days the spy had become weak. He complained in his heavy voice of losing blood. He said he felt someone is draining out his blood in the cycle of the full moon to new moon—from Purnima to Amabasya. He had come here when it was three days past the new moon. I have decided to take him out and checked on the bed and the cell in search of bugs and leeches.
Nothing was found in the cell. To-day he complained of whispers in the deep of the night. This week it was Qasim who remain guarded there in the night. I asked him and he said he had heard of such voices or whispering. I had placed the spy in another cell. It was cleaned by the few of the prisoners in the morning when the cell was going on inspection for the insects. Let’s hope he will be fine now because harm to him means lots of questions on me. And I have to answer those questions stating clear reasons.
Have to put back the spy in the corner cell. He had screamed last night complaining the cat scratching him. He wants to go back to the cell. The cat he mentioned was not there in the morning or noon or not in the evening before I left. It seems he was dreaming or something like that. Though there are few scratches on his arms and nose. But Rastogi said they were inflicted by his own nail not some cat.
Surprisingly they are no cat in this region. Not even a dog. The only animals that used to roam here were those crocodiles from the doubtful Barrackpore zoo. There were though few birds. There are crows and vultures amongst the common ones while most are very much local here and most of them are nocturnal. Like right now a bird is calling outside in the garden and it seems a man is calling someone’s name. If I want I can imagine of it calling my name.
So, where from the cat comes—it just amusing me. The man is a strong and he had been few days here. Losing his consciousness or mind cannot happen not so much fast. Maybe after a month or so this can happen but not within the two weeks he has been here.
To-day I put back the spy in the cell. He had again scream and shouted, and curse someone for not being able to write.
This writing thing bewildered me. Last night it was cat; now it’s this writing. How fast he is losing his mind. A strong he is by his body strength but not by his mind strength.
Something is hidden in this place. Is this the sins of McGraften’s or something else? The prison seems to be in the centre of some sinister happenings. Though, most of the prisons are womb of sins and unfulfilled desires. I have been over a one month and it seems this place is draining of my thought process. I need to leave this place I feel. Sometimes I think on how Das Gupta lived here for two years of his life.