Written by a cop and an ambassador, this autobiography traces the life and journey of the author through life. It begins with his birth and ends with his retirement after reaching the position of a superintendent, Travancore division with headquarters at Quilon. Sankara'sfather got transferred frequently and so did Sankara'sschools changed. Narrating his childhood experiences he talks of being belted once and the only time by his father for telling a lie. ?The treatment taught me that one should know how to sustain a lie before telling one.?
Once, at the end of his school days in1934, Sankaran removed his sister'swatch from her trinket box. His father guessed that his son was the culprit and reprimanded him severely, though Sankaran failed to acknowledge his mistake. Sankaran quietly went and replaced the watch in his sister'sbox, much to the satisfaction of the sister and a knowing look from the father. On completing class, he sat for ICS examination but did not succeed. He qualified for the Indian Police Service but joined the law course where he had an interesting experience. In an incident, a colleague named Farooqi was subjected to much leg pulling in class by another boy named Eric. One day when Eric pulled his Indian Penal Code book from Farooqi, the book fell on the ground and Eric'sfoot accidentally touched it. ?Farooqi erupted like a volcano and almost started a one-man communal riot.? It was later discovered that what had made Farooqi explode in such rage was that his ?full name Mohammad Farooqi had been written in his book.
As part of police training, Sankaran attended a criminal trial in the Sessions Court and also witnessed a judicial hanging from the point of medical jurisprudence. The criminal had crushed the head of a young girl with a large lump of rock. He then sold her gold chain to buy himself a meal. Sankaran describes the gruesome hanging thus: ?The hangman'srope quivered for three minutes with his final agony, after which the doctor asked the cadets to step down into the well. He made sure that the prisoner'sheart had stopped? and explained the symptoms of death by strangulation.
The author relates an amusing story of the time when he was posted to Ghana. V.K. Krishna Menon, as Foreign Minister visited Ghana for its inauguration as a republic. The Indian High Commission had organised an evening reception to the visiting Foreign Minister to which the author was also invited. Krishna Menon asked him, ?Are you a Malayali or a Punjabi Nair??
This is a book which throws light on some personalities of the era when the author was in Indian Police. It undoubtedly makes for interesting reading of dated happenings though.
(Manas Publications, 4402/5A Main Ansari Road, Daryaganj, New Delhi-110002.)