Panikkar and the torpedo

It was the tail end of the First World War. The war had been raging for four long years and involved some 70 million military personnel, including close to 60 million Europeans and sending some 9 million people to their untimely deaths. Starting with the crises in Austria and Serbia, it pulled in the Hungarians and the conflict soon spread with the Germans invading Belgium. Britain declared war on Germany soon after and The Germans were on their way to storming Paris. Russia moved in and trench war was raging to its final stages at the Western front.

One of the first things the Germans did during this period was also to take the battle to the seas. The supply lines for raw material and soldiers were laid through the big seas and anything that could slow the movement of merchant ships or halt it would be ever so important in the main battles and in slowing the Allies. It was with this in mind that the submarine corps was strengthened. The SM U-46 was one of the 329 submarines serving in the Imperial German Navy (Kaiserliche Marine). It was part of a small fleet that started with the U43 and went on until the U50. They were all ocean going diesel powered attack boats. The U43 was a class of eight ocean-going submarines built at the Imperial Dockyard at Danzig during World War I, with a displacement of 725 tons, cruising distance of 15,000 km, a speed of 15 knots, power of 2400 HP and each armed with 6 torpedoes, four from the bow and two from stern. The Danzig dock, famous as the birth place of the ship Emden that we talked about in the past, produced the U43’s which were rolled out between 1913 and 1916. The U-46 one such U boat launched in 1915 was also engaged in the naval warfare and took part in the First Battle of the Atlantic.

Prior to World War I, the submarine was considered an ineffective weapon for blockading an enemy country. Submarines, basically, had no space to take prisoners aboard and could never carry sailors to provide crews to man captured ships. So it was considered a useless against merchant shipping. In February 1915 the Germans decided it had a solution to the issue -- unrestricted submarine warfare where they just sank ships - crew and all after declaring a war zone around the British Isles within which they would sink any allied or even an US flagged merchant vessel on sight. When the Americans protested there was a brief lull between 1916 and 1917, but the attacks restarted in 1917 and on 6th April 1917, President Wilson of America declared war on Germany, the Submarine had dragged America into the war.
The Germans had planned on starving out the British who were dependent so much on the shipping lanes. Over a thousand merchant ships had been sunk and Britain was just weeks away from starvation. By April, when America declared war, Britain was on the edge of starvation.

Meanwhile a young Indian student from Malabar, named Madhava Panikkar was winding up his studies in Christ College Oxford, after having come there just as the war had started. He was being taken care of by his elder brother who was studying medicine in Edinburgh at the time. Interestingly, Paniakkar had no undergraduate degree, and had not really fared brilliantly in his entrance exams, but then professor Dr John Murray had a sixth sense that this entrant was a scholar in the making. How did he discern it? From the Indian boy’s handwriting!! There were about 60 Indian students in the school and KPS Menon was one of later students. Panikkar did well in school and was eventually awarded the Dixon scholarship. But the main topic of discussion during these years was war and if Germany would succeed. Britain was despondent. During these testing times, the boy wrote a lot, published many an article and made many acquaintances that were to be of great help in his later years. Soon he entered the avenues of history studies helping Vincent Smith in his book on Indian history. But time was running short and it was time for the young Malayali to return home. What could have been the full name of this character? None other than Kavalam Madhava Panikkar, the person I had previously introduced to you. Well, Panikkar was looking forward to the voyage back home and the trees and ponds of his native place Kavalam in Kuttanad, its monsoons and the life he had always loved. But fate had something else in store for him.
Several people advised Panikkar not to travel as they expected the war to end soon, but he was adamant. Finally he got a ticket on the SS Tasman bound for Bombay. According to Wint, he received a letter from his astrologer (not sure who, perhaps his doctor brother who later became an astrologer) stating that he was going to have bad luck in the seas but that he would escape. Anyway whether it was that reassurance or just plain dumb bravado, Panikkar decided to travel out on the Tasman on the 11th Sept 1918. Nostalgically he cast some final looks at the British shores that he had come to love though his homesickness had risen above it all.

Captaining the U46 during the final stages was the dashing Kapit√§nleutnant Leo Hillebrand, then 32 years old, who had joined the U46 only in January after a stint with the U16’s (For those technically inclines, the U boat stands for Unterseeboot or under sea boat). In fact he had participated in the battle of Jutland at Denmark, the largest naval battle and the only full-scale clash of battleships in the war. Both sides claimed victory, but eventually due to larger numerical superiority of the Royal navy, the German Navy turned its efforts and resources to unrestricted submarine warfare and the destruction of Allied and neutral shipping which had by April 1917 triggered America's declaration of war on Germany. So now Hillebrand had a free run and he took his orders to heart, sinking 50 ships with his U boat team. He was thus one of the underwater aces. The U boat U46 was on its last patrol run, having finished 10 already and sunk close to 140,000 tons of merchant ships.
The date was 16 September 1918. As the U46 locked onto the steamer sailing serenely ahead, Hillebrad quickly surfaced and lifted his periscope. He had surfaced in the Atlantic, 220 nautical miles (410 km) north by west of Cape Villano, Spain. The steamer on the waters looked akin to a huge whale in the eyepiece and he saw people walking on his bridge, and some of the crew cleaning the deck and a few passengers scurrying about, for the sea was calm and the weather good.

'But it cannot be helped,' Hillebrad must have thought 'War is war’ and called out to the control room - 'Stand by for firing a torpedo!' He knew that the liner had not a chance, for it just defensively armed, had neither Sonar nor depth charges, nor high power machine guns.
'FIRE!' he shouted, and a slight tremor went through the U boat – for the torpedo had gone. The distance was right, the aim on target and the torpedo ran towards the doomed ship at high speed. Those in the U boat could follow its course exactly by the light streak of bubbles which was left in its wake.

SS Tasman, the steamship built by Earle's Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. Ltd., Hull in 1912 and owned at the time by The Shipping Controller (Federal Steam Nav. Co. Ltd.,), London, was a British steamer of 5.023 tons capacity. On that fated week it was on the London Calcutta route. Panikkar and a number of others were as we know, on board. Let’s take the story from the accounts of Panikkar (His newspaper account in Kairali could not be located) narrated by Narendranath his biographer and Rev. George Ernest Woodford, a survivor, as recounted from his diary.

Panikkar’s biographer's account– It was the fourth day of the journey (It must have actually been the fifth for the event happened on the 16th Sept) and after lunch the passengers retired to their corners. Panikkar was half asleep when he was awakened by a deafening sound, the ship had been hit by a torpedo…….. Those on the deck of the soon tilting and sinking ship were ordered to jump into the sea and the panicky crowd did so in the hope that they would be saved. Panikkar being adept in swimming, thanks to training at Kuttanad, jumped with some fear and was soon taken into a boat. There was waiting and utter confusion about him. Not even enough room to sit. He himself had the sea sickness of the worst type. The wearied and dejected Panikkar received some comfort from a young man (was it Woodford? Woodford talk of lending a rug-blanket to a soul who had only a shirt on and Narendranath states that Panikkar had only a shirt on)beside him, who patted him on his back and put him to sleep. Many hours later they saw a light, but it was the light of the very submarine that had sunk them, and deepened the gloom of the group on the boat. By midday they saw a ship approaching, it was mercifully an American ship. They were saved at last. Narendranath states that Panikkar was among the 52 out of 273 on board, who were saved, but that is wrong for only 14 people lost their lives in this sinking, including the Master.
Woodford’s diary excerpts - The ships that took to the ocean were indeed camouflaged and that the Tasman was part of a convoy of 13 ships, with six destroyers in escort and a mystery ship. The SS Tasman rode on the outer left. By the 16th, the convoys returned and the ship was well into the high seas. Standing on the deck, one could only see another ship, the Colaba. He says - We went for tea at 3.35 PM and at 3.45 we were hit by a torpedo in the front hold of the South side. Five minutes later the ship had sunk. All the boats got lowered but only just in time. Many of us had to jump into the water and swim to the boats. We were holding onto the lines from the boats like bloaters on a string. I managed to clamber in. The rest had to be pulled in. Immediately she was struck, the ship took a strong list to S but fortunately she almost righted herself before she disappeared. If she had gone over, all the S boats would have been knocked out & taken under, as none of were more than 10 or 12 yards from her when she sank. She sank by the head and there was very little turmoil or suction as she glided down. She was an oil ship, and there was much oil on the water unfortunately for us. All 5 boats got safely clear & turned their heads to wind by means of sea anchor & oars. Nearly all the tillers were smashed. The weather was squally with heavy showers. Sea was rough with strong SW wind. Sighted submarine on horizon at 6pm don’t think she saw us. Boat torpedoed about 350 miles SSW of Ushant. There was a cross sea out – it was difficult to keep boat head to the waves after moon went down. Saw a wonderful lunar rainbow, the bands of colour were fainter and much wider than in the day solar rainbow. We know that our boat had no time to send out an SOS with our position, and could only hope that the Colaba had done so. She of course made off at top speed as soon as we were torpedoed.

At 9 am sighted smoke again and after a while a vessel which turned out to be the USA destroyer Talbot. We were rescued at last and made for Brest and got into harbour at daybreak. On the 19th we were back in Plymoth. Three things mainly responsible for our deliverance - No women & children on board, an oil fuel boat, a white crew (doubt if a lascar crew would have got the boats afloat in time).
In a later report, he adds - had quite a shock when I discovered what a small boat she was. On board, everything appeared in confusion. I was surprised and disappointed to find that there were no Indian stewards on board. The crew and stewards were all white, Australians in fact. The vessel was a Dutch boat that had been taken over in Australia, an Australian crew had brought her home and were taking her back to Calcutta, where they expected to pay off. A lascar crew, were, we understood, to be shipped there. We left on Saturday morning in a thick mist. When it cleared we discovered that there were 13 ships in our convoy, including a mystery ship and that we were escorted by 6 destroyers, some American and some British.

The passengers were not numerous, 50 or 60 perhaps. But they were a cosmopolitan lot. My cabin companion was a sea captain going out to Bombay to his boat. The list contained a High Court judge, a member of the ICS, businessmen bound for the Strait Settlement, Madras, Calcutta, Assam, Bombay and Mesopotamia, a young Indian returning after some years at Oxford, an old Indian pleader who had been to England to instruct counsel in a Privy Council appeal, 4 YMCA workers for Mesopotamia, two of whom were American and the other two English one being an ordained minister. I was the only missionary on board.
On Monday morning when we came on deck, we discovered that our escort had left us and that there was only one other ship in sight which was said to be the “Colaba” bound I believe for Bombay. The disappearance of the convoy and the escort caused a feeling of loneliness in most of us. At 3.30pm the tea bell went and a good number of the passengers trooped down for a cup. At 3.40 there was a very intensive BANG in the fore hold a little bit forward of the saloon in which we were sitting. All the glass came out of the windows and we were all jumped out of our chairs. Nobody said a word. We all knew what had happened, I noticed how tense and white everybody’s face was and wondered if my face was like all the others. We all rushed for the stairs leading to the promenade deck.

For those who would like even more details, please read thediary account in full at this wonderful site and many thanks to Jerome Woodford for making it available.
So Panikkar was finally back in Britain, but he would not stay any longer there and was on the lookout for another voyage to India. 10 days later he found another ship to India and soon he was back in his home, hale and hearty.

But many years later, another aspect of this story still remains a little out of place. According to Mathai’s reminiscences, after his return Panikkar was asked to accompany his uncle - an imperious man, to check out the flooded situation in his hometown. Panikkar according to Mathati was terrified since he did not know how to swim. Anyway he could not decline and accompanied him. While in the middle of the swirling waters, Panikkar’s uncle asked him to get married and informed curtly that an alliance had been arranged for him with his daughter, Panikkar’s cousin. The terrified Panikkar had no choice but to agree and that is how he got married. Then again that was Mathai, and his accounts should be taken with a liberal pinch of salt. Narendranath if you recall stated that Panikkar was adept at swimming. Anyway, this was just a tidbit to mull about.
After his return and marriage, Panikkar joined Aligarh Muslim University in 1919 to teach history and political science. He became the first editor of the Hindustan Times from 1924 and later decided to study law, by returning to England in 1925 for a year and enrolling in Middle Temple.

Quoting Wikipedia - Unrestricted submarine warfare in the spring of 1917 was initially very successful, sinking a major part of Britain-bound shipping. Nevertheless with the introduction of escorted convoys shipping losses declined and in the end the German strategy failed to destroy sufficient Allied shipping. An armistice became effective on 11 November 1918 and all surviving German submarines were surrendered. Of the 360 submarines that had been built, 178 were lost but more than 11 million tons of shipping had been destroyed.
A month later, on 26th November 1918, the U boat U-46 surrendered to Japan. She was in Japanese service as the O-2 from 1920 till 21. She was later rebuilt at the Yokosuka Navy Yard 1925 as a testbed for submarine salvage operations carried out by the tender IJN Asahi. During her transfer from Yokosuka to Kure on 21st April 1925, she was caught by a storm and lost. On 5th August 1927 her hulk was spotted by a US merchant ship, west of Oahu and subsequently scuttled.

Nothing is known of the future of Leo Hillebrand, the captain of the U46 who sunk the SS Tasman. The Tasman still lies on the ocean bed and has not been salvaged. If they did, they would still not find the 2,000 or so books he was bringing back to India and reams of correspondence that was part of Panikkar’s baggage. Those have become food for the marine inhabitants, not that they would be richer in intellect after ingesting those pages anyway!
That is thus the story of a ship, a submarine and a person who escaped the torpedo attack, with his life. He was so fated, but went on to become a great man. Perhaps a half hour of your valuable time has been wasted reading this perfectly useless bit of information, perhaps you enjoyed it, perhaps you hated it, nevertheless, I would be happy if you cast a comment or two.

Sardar Panikkar - his life and times – KR Narendranath
KM Panikkar – An autobiography
Sardar Panikkar – Shastyabdapoorthy Souvenir  - Ed BJ Chaco
The third Killer - Guy Wint
"U-boat Attack, 1916," EyeWitness to History, (1997)
The Wreck site
Tasman photo thanks to Shipspotting
U46 photo
Panikkar - Life, Old indian photos

Another U46 a Type VIIB was launched during the Second World War, it is not the same U boat as in this event. Thanks to the eyewitness to history for the U boat attack event which helped embellish my account and of course the Wreck site which provided much information on the ships. Thanks also to Jerome Woodford for the diary extracts.

The Ghosts of Lakshmi Mansion

Pundit K Santhanam and Sadat Hasan Manto

Some weekends ago, the eagerly awaited Baisaki at Cary’s Koka Booth Amphitheater was affected by the rains. Last year’s was too, for we were eagerly waiting for Kailash Kher to sing, but again bad weather cancelled the show. But the Baisakhi  raised a couple of memories, memories of a writer (a favorite of mine – I have a collection of his stories) who is considered to be the father of Urdu short story writing and another, a forgotten freedom fighter and the father of the Indian and Pakistan life insurance industry. As was destined, their fates crossed at Lahore, where one made a mansion and the other lived in it, but they never met. That mansion was the Lakshmi mansion of Lahore.
The writer, was none other than Sadat Hasan Manto, who left Bombay with a heavy heart during the sad and violent days after the partition, and the other a lawyer who lived in Lahore before partition, who fought for India’s freedom and who went on to become the chairman of Lakshmi Insurance and constructing the many buildings bearing the Lakshmi name. That was Pundit K Santhanam, the man who brought to light the terrible Jallianwala Bagh massacre on the Baisaki day in 1919, during the dark days of British censorship in Punjab. Punjabis and Pakistani’s have perhaps forgotten the latter, though not the former, but it was Santhanam who fought for their justice when they most needed it and spent his entire life in their midst. Manto on the other hand, after all the injustice meted out to him while living owing to his frank writing and censorship issues, now lives fondly in many hearts as a revered writer. They in my article are the ghosts of the Lakshmi mansion.

There is some unrest in the Punjab areas of India and Pakistan these days on account of Sarbjit singh’s callous murder in the Pakistani jail and the retaliatory attack on a Pakistani prisoner in India. It made me remember comments made by Manto, and for now I am quoting an English translation by Khalid Hassan. The scene is the bloodbath after the partition of 1947. One day Manto and actor Shyam Chadha his closest friend, go to Rawalpindi, and soon they were hearing about the horrifying acts of killing and rioting on both sides. Manto says – I could see that Shyam was deeply moved. I could well understand what was passing through his mind, when we left, I said to him, ‘I am a Muslim, don’t you want to kill me?’
‘Not now’ he replied gravely, ‘but while I was listening to them and they were telling me about the atrocities committed by the Muslims, I could have killed you’. His answer shocked me deeply. Perhaps I could have killed him too when he spoke those words. When I thought about it later, I suddenly understood the psychological background of India’s religiously motivated bloodbath. Shyam had said that he could have killed me then, but not now. Therein lay the key to the holocaust of partition.’ That is the power of the moment, the instant when heart rules over the brain. Manto’s stories help us to understand the madness that was bursting into bloodshed. But this is not about the partition, it is about two of these people I came across in these annals of history, some time ago.

As you pick up a Jeevan Bhima or some kind of LIC policy, spend a moment to remember Santhanam, the man who started it all together with Lala Lajpat Rai. When you read the poignant story of the ill-fated dog on the Indo-Pak border at Titwal, remember Manto. There are some who may want to know more about these people, and for their sake, let us weave through these two disparate lives, one a Hindu, another a Muslim, both eventually torn by the partition of 1947 and succumbing to its sadness, one in 1948 and the other in 1955.
Santanam’s life starts in 1885 in puritan Kumbakonam, and the early days as you will soon see, did not prove too pleasant. Santanam was orphaned in early childhood, and was brought up by his elder brother who incidentally went on to become a famous lawyer. As is rumored, he was a bright and naughty child. After spending his early phase of schooling at Kumbakonam, Santanam moved on to Madras, where he joined the Presidency College – situated on the beach, at one end of the Pycroft’s road. Soon he was to get affected by the Swadeshi movement and he joined the Indian National Congress, the party that had incidentally been created in 1885, the year of his own birth. His elder brother wanted him to be spared nothing when it came to studies and so in 1906, Santanam sailed over to England, where he got an admission in King’s College, Cambridge. But he had by carrying out this act done something that was taboo, he had crossed the seas, something that his Brahmin clan was not to take kindly to. Though Santanam did not clear his ICS exams and though he turned down the colonial post offered in the Audit Department, he veered into legal studies, and in 1910 was called to the Bar from the Inner Temple. It was during his stay in London that he came in touch with Lala Lajpat Rai — a meeting that was to prove momentous in years to come.

Santanam was always headstrong upon his return to Kumbakonam, refused to carry out the shuddi kalasham or purification rites to rejoin his clan. That was to get him virtually excommunicated from the Iyengar community. Neither could he get a wife or a job, such was the retaliation and even his brothers were to go (that is surprising – did his brother not send him to England?) against him. As the story goes, In fact they never forgave him during his lifetime, and after Santanam himself passed away, his brother’s family priest refused to perform the last pujas! Santanam withstood the barrage of social disapproval, but it became difficult for him to function though working with the self-respect movement kept him busy, and it was at this juncture that Lala Lajpat Rai suggested he come and work in Punjab. However his daughter gives a different story – She says - So, on arrival in Bombay (from Britain), he went straight to Lahore, well, via Lucknow and Rangoon but he certainly didn’t go south, not straightaway.
As Santanam was settling down in Lahore, in those days a prosperous city of India, Saadat Hasan Manto was born in Sambrala Ludhiana, May 1912. He belonged to a Kashmiri Muslim family (his biographer JC Wadhawa however believes his family were once Brahmin Kashmiri Pundit’s). Saadat Hasan Manto did his early schooling at the Muslim High School in Amritsar, but he had little interest in studies and failed twice to matriculate, even in the subject of Urdu, a language that he mastered eventually.

Pandit K. Santanam, by then, at the behest of Lala Lajpat Rai had made Lahore his home and was enrolled at the bar. Much loved by the public, he got the title Pundit, being from Brahmin stock. Punjab was not bound by the caste system rigors and with Arya Samajists, Sikhs, Muslims and Christians, it was an open atmosphere. He started his practice at the Lahore Bar and by 1916 found his life partner, Krishna Vedi, daughter of an Arya Samaj leader, Pt. Atmaram Vedi of Delhi, in 1916.
It was in 1919 that the Jalianwalla massacre occurred near Amritsar. REH Dyer was the villain, and on Sunday, 13 April 1919, Dyer convinced of a major insurrection about to happen, had banned public meetings. But it was the day of Baisakhi, which Punjabis celebrate and naturally they went on with their planned celebrations. On hearing that a meeting of 15,000 to 20,000 people including women, children and the elderly had assembled at Jallianwala Bagh, Dyer went with fifty Baluchi and Gurkha riflemen to a raised bank and ordered them to shoot at the crowd. Many thousands were killed. Martial Law was declared in Amritsar and Lahore districts on April 15, and a heavy hand was laid on anybody who resisted. The railways were virtually closed to Indians, and all third class and intermediate tickets were withdrawn. Not more than two men were allowed to walk abreast on pavements. Amritsar’s water and electric supplies were cut off.

Santanam’s association with the freedom movement came to a head with the traumatic events of Jallianwala Bagh. Soon he became the defense counsel in the case of Lala Harkishen Lal and others, and he decided to break the police cordon which had been thrown around Punjab, to visit Shimla the summer capital in order to try and get a more impartial Bench. He smuggled himself out under the first class berth of a railway compartment occupied by an Englishman, and made his way to Shimla where his request was but naturally, refused. However, he managed to meet and apprise Sir Sankaran Nair, member of the Viceroy’s Council, of the atrocities being committed under guise of martial law, and it was thus that news of the black happenings in Punjab were leaked out to the nation and the authorities had to act.
Later when the Congress appointed a commission of inquiry into the Punjab atrocities consisting of Moti Lal Nehru, Fazlul Haq, C.R. Das, Abbas Tyabji, M.R. Jayakar and M.K. Gandhi, Santanam was designated its secretary, and charged with the responsibility of preparing and publishing their findings. He completed his task in under a year. The report is a model of meticulous documentation (After interviewing 1,700 witnesses and recording evidence, he created the voluminous report) and its historic publication chronicled what was later termed by Gandhi to be the "last nail in the coffin of the British Empire." Santanam was jailed three times for offences which included participation in the Non-Cooperation Movement and satyagraha.

Quoting Madhuri Sondhi his daughter, ‘In 1920, Santanam resigned his legal practice during Mahatma Gandhi’s Non-Cooperation Movement, and lectured at the college set up by Lajpat Rai. The next 10 years of his life were politically the most active. He was general secretary of the Punjab Provincial Congress Committee (1921-22) and president of the Batala, PCC, in April 1922. At this time he was but 37 years of age. He also served as Municipal Commissioner for Lahore from 1921 to 23, and thus his identification with Punjab became complete.
After resigning his legal practice, Santanam was faced with the personal dilemma of what to do with himself. Lalaji, the champion of Indian commerce, suggested business, and thus was born the Lakshmi Insurance Company in 1924. He remained in charge of the company’s affairs till shortly before his death, and under his direction it developed into a highly successful commercial enterprise, with branches all over India and even in East Africa. It was during this period that the Lakshmi mansion was created at the Mall in Lahore, by Lakshmi insurance.

But during these years, what was our other friend Manto upto? He was always breaking conventions like walking on hot coals, or doing all kinds of silly things youngsters do and even spreading funny rumors that the Americans were going to airlift the Taj Mahal to USA. Anyway he finally passed his matriculation exams, though faring badly in Urdu and eventually falling into bad company, gambling away his time playing cards. He lost interest in that too soon and was caught in the fervor of the independence movement, dreaming acts on how to overthrow the British, sitting under a tree at Jalianwala Bagh. It was 1933 by now and I presume he never knew about Santanam. One day he met Bari Alig a writer who styled himself around Victor Hugo and influenced by Bari, translated Hugo’s ‘The last days of the condemned’, into Urdu. Within a matter of months Manto produced an Urdu translation of Victor Hugo's The Last Day of a Condemned Man, which was published by Urdu Book Stall, Lahore as Sarguzasht-e-Aseer (A Prisoner's Story). Bari on behalf of Manto had sold this off for all of Rs 30.00. Soon he was writing film reviews for Masawaat, an Urdu newspaper. His 1934 Urdu translation of Oscar Wilde's Vera won him recognition amongst the literary circles. At the continued encouragement of Abdul Bari, he published a collection of Urdu translation of Russian stories as Russi Afsane in the Humayun magazine. Gorky was next in the translation list and soon Bari left for Lahore. Manto after this writing blitz and bereft of intellectual company, again fell into boredom, and took to liquor and gambling. But they met again, to work for Khulk and as that was also short lived, moved on to pursue literary studies at the AMU. It was at this juncture that Manto fell ill with tuberculosis and took to drinking caustic country liquor to dull his chest pains. And that was how Manto ended up in Kashmir for rest and recuperation with financial support from his sister Iqbal begum.
A couple of years of quiet life in Kashmir and a very interesting one sided love affair were to follow. But by 1936, he ended up in Bombay to work for Mussavar and later Caravan magazines. In 1941 he moved on to Delhi to work for the AIR, but he came back to Bombay a year later. It was at this point of his life that he entered the tinsel town of Bollywood and as a popular script writer, associated himself with the top circles earning a good salary from Filmistan. Shyam, Dada Moni – Ashok Kumar were among his close friends.

Indian Independence came soon, the partition followed and with it came the pain, frustration and disappointment. At Filmistan, many of the friends he had suddenly became enemies, Hindu Muslim rioting had started in Bombay and his work was no longer in demand resulting in the shattering of his somewhat strong ego and arrogant demeanor. To exacerbate the situation, his family soon moved to Lahore. In 1948, Manto finally left Bombay for good, with a heavy heart and by then, fully under the control of Ethyl alcohol.
Public space records what Manto had to say about it years later. It was a blow to have to leave Bombay, where I had lived such a busy life. Bombay had taken me in, a wandering outcast thrown out by even his family. She had told me, “You can live happily here on two paise a day or on ten thousand rupees. Or if you want, you can be the saddest person in the world at either price. Here you can do whatever you want, and no one will think you’re strange. Here no one will tell you what to do. You will have to do every difficult thing on your own, and you will have to make every important decision by yourself. I don’t care if you live on the sidewalk or in a magnificent mansion, I don’t care if you stay or go. I’ll always be here.” I was disconsolate after leaving Bombay. My good friends were there. I had gotten married there. My first child was born there, as was my second. There I had gone from earning a couple rupees a day to thousands - hundreds of thousands - and there I had spent it all. I loved it, and I still do!

Santanam on the other hand, was faced with the partition, while on the Indian side. In reality he was not even at Lahore, but was resting and recuperating at Kashmir (what a strange coincidence!) when all this happened. He was away in Kashmir at that period, to avoid the allergic dust of Lahore. And as Santhanam left Lahore, Manto of Kashmir came to Lahore. As Manto despaired of leaving Bombay, Santhanam was saddened leaving the place of his life and living in Kashmir. Events that followed prevented him from ever returning to his adopted home, Lahore.
 His daughter says - At the time of Independence, he was in Kashmir with his family to escape the heat and dust of Lahore as he was suffering from an acute bout of asthma. But he could never return to Lahore as Partition riots had broken out and my father’s house and other properties were lost forever. We reached Delhi practically empty handed.Most reluctantly, he came to Delhi, leaving friends, associates and property. The two years that he lived after Independence, surrounded by displaced and grieving Punjabi families, drove him to refugee rehabilitation work, and he became member of the Advisory Committee to the Ministry of Relief and Rehabilitation in 1948. Had he wanted, Santanam could have joined Nehru’s cabinet for he had all the attributes. But he was a sad man who was completely shaken by the Partition and the accompanying holocaust. The thought of office never crossed his mind. He died on August 31, 1949 in Delhi. His two-volume report on Jalianwala Bagh is not known to anybody, nor are his links to the Insurance industry. But the government finally took note and issues a stamp in his honor some six decades later. 

 Sadat Hassan Manto arrived in Lahore in early 1948. Manto had at least one consolation. His nephew Hamid Jalal had already settled his family in a flat next to his own in Lakshmi Mansions near The main Mall. The complex was centrally located. From there every place of importance was at a stone’s throw. These flats were occupied by families of some of the people who were destined to become important in the intellectual and academic fields. But then came the barrage of court cases against his writing, citing obscenity, when all he did was paint the stark realities of life and sex in his stories. As Pakistan’s film studios were nonfunctional, newspaper and creative writing was the only avenue for his talent and soon he was churning out many a great short story, while still in the grip of alcohol addiction. In a matter of years, the fire was extinguished and Manto was lost to the world in 1955. Not to be outdone, the Pakistani government also issued a stamp with his face on it. We see neither stamps of these lone warriors against orthodoxy, in circulation– that is life!!

‘Toba Tek Singh’  is a masterpiece, set in the lunatic asylum in Lahore at the time of partition, and those interested, should read about the Thanda Ghosht, Babu Gopinath, Bu (odor) or the Dog of titwal, or for that matter Manto’s letters to Uncle Sam….
The Lakshmi Building, which was constructed way before the partition, is associated with the memories of Hindus and Sikhs. It was later used by the Muslim League of Hindustan who gathered here for meetings and social events. It is located in a small residential enclave just off the Mall between Hall Road and Beadon Road. Today, Lakshmi Insurance may be part of LIC, but in Pakistan many of its buildings still bear its name and the temple motifs on their facades, though not the Lakshmi representations that once adorned them. The Lakshmi mansion at the mall howver got a new name and is called Ahmad mansion, or so it seems. Recently somebody decided to build a food street at the mall. The Lakshmi mansion, is supposedly protected by the Punjab Archeology Department which naturally did not want the building to be altered, but some bright guys had it repainted camel white and blue. Apart from this, ‘Allahu Akbar’ has also been written on the top of the building. When the town engineer was contacted, he stated that no permission was needed to alter the building. He said - “Who cares, it is just a building.”

Pandit K Santhanam is not Kummattithidal Kasturiranga Santhanam who was also prominent in Lahore and a freedom fighter, living between 1895-1980. Nor was he the TVS Santhanam.

Manto’s stories are available in English.
Diplomat Mani Shankar Iyer and his parents used to live at the same Lakshmi mansion

Tribune article – remembering K Santanam – Madhuri Santhanam Sondhi
Hindu article – Story of the Lahore pundit = RC Rajamani
Statesman interview with Rajamani – ‘My father was too proud to ask for anything’
The life of Sadat Hasan Manto – Manto Nama – Jagdish Chander Wadhawa
Manto’s Collections – Selected short stories, Bitter fruit, Black margins
Sadat Hasan Manto – Mahnaz Ispahani
Pics - Google images - thanks to the owners, uploaders...