Diary of Nishchint Srikumar

RogerBW

(Roger disclaims: we’re a bunch of middle-aged white mostly-English men playing in a culture that isn’t ours. We’re trying to get things right, but we will inevitably get details wrong and may be insulting. That’s not our intention.)

Translator’s Note

The translation of this diary, recovered from the effects of Mrs Srikumar, has been a lengthy process. Even once the encipherment had been cracked, the plain text was in a mixture of languages and even alphabets, with allusions to Hindu literature unexpected from a woman largely without formal education. This thorough, one might say excessive, effort to keep the contents of the document confidential may perhaps be justified by the nature of her wartime work, and only now can the details be revealed.
The translator is grateful to Dr von Lambsdorf of the British Magical Society for assistance in esoteric matters.
“Hari”, addressed in several passages, is believed to be Mrs Srikumar’s late husband Harinder (1902-1930).
Other members of the Logistics Section were:
”The Indians will only be united under the threat of danger. Nobody can simply bring together a country that has 265 kinds of God.”
– Nishchint

1939

(20 November 2021)
Dear Hari,
Such times! My small business has come to the attention of the Delhi Intelligence Bureau, in a small team recruited by William Davies-Wright to tackle special matters of Intelligence.
Ernst Schäfer is leading an SS expedition to Tibet, seeking early Aryan civilisation (the Aryan civilisation all around them presumably not being wite enough). He is primarily a zoologist, but after his last expedition was promoted rapidly from SS-Private. His five-man expedition has been travelling in the region for most of a year; they seemed happy after they’d spent time in the Yarlung Valley, but have vanished on the way back to Gangtok.
Our task is to find and arrest them, and clearly to find a way to hang on to them until they can be interned after the expected outbreak of war.
There are several plausible routes the expedition might have taken, but one is clearly the best. We travel by train, then drive a police charabanc on to Gangtok.

19 August

We meet Sir Basil Gould, the Political Officer, and a pilot who is prepared to lend his Tiger Moth for reconnaissance; he takes up Miss McDavis to look at the likely routes; she spies two caravans, one of which definitely has some blonde-haired members – at least a week’s travel away from where the useful road starts.
We consider how we may find an excuse to arrest them; if I join the caravan before it returns to civilisation, I should be able to learn more and cause suitable trouble.

22 August

I join the caravan, and impress them with cooking (my mother’s recipes continue to do well). It seems that the geophysicist Wienert has “gone crazy” after an argument one night, and is restrained in a litter.
I keep an ear out. There are clearly topics that the other Germans don’t raise with Schäfer, and are concerned about what happens when they get back to society.
Wienert isn’t spontaneously complaining, but I get some opportunity to speak with him, under the guise of his teaching me German. After some days he asks for help escaping, and of course I agree – he doesn’t think he’s mad, the way they say. So when we get back to Chungthang he starts acting mad, and I arrange that some gunfire comes from the caravan…
(They have five Lugers, three Gew98s and two scoped small-calibre rifles. All quite reasonable for the expedition.)
Arrests are made. It seems that the expedition found an old shrine up a side valley of the Yarlung, treated it as neglected, and brought a heavy item back from it. This proves to be an idol, carved from a single piece of iron or similar metal (though un-rusted), something like a thousand years old by McDavis’ evaluation of the costume. There are no inscriptions.
Wienert requests asylum… and turns out to have tried to get into esoteric contact with the statue, and eventually it spoke to him. It explained the illusions of the world, and suddenly Nazism didn’t seem such a good idea any more…
“Not my incarnation, not my Buddha.”
– Vijay

2 September

Back in Delhi. The scientific material will be examined by people who can understand it. A telegraph message arrives from Lhasa asking whether the Germans stole the statue known as “The Iron Man”, with an accurate description…
Several of the team want to talk with this statue themselves. The clergy don’t come up with much until we find someone who speaks Tibetan Buddhism, and he manages to listen effectively.

3 September

Lord Linlithgow declares India to be at war without consulting the Parliament…

12 September

(11 December 2021)
Bill Wright asks us to lend ourselves to the Constabulary in Kolkata; it was the site of the German Embassy, until it was closed down at the outbreak of war. More to the point, there’s a pre-German underground newspaper, which the local police have been failing to shut down: someone goes to talk to them, then comes back saying this is not a problem.
“We ought to find out about this before we set fire to it.”
– Hannah
The situation in Bengal is complex. Mostly-Hindu West Bengal and Mostly-Muslim East Bengal were split thirty-odd years ago, then reunited. This has given strength to the Muslim League of India, now largely disassociated from the Congress, which wants both independence and a separate Muslim country; the Hindu Mahasabha opposes both the Muslims and independence…

13 September

In Kolkata, we meet Sub-Inspector Ashok. His account matches what we have been told; we also speak with Constable Ramprakesh, who has no memory of events inside the building, or of ordering his men away.
I have a look inside the back goods area; the visible posters, newspapers, and so on seem to be legitimate. So why the magical defences, if the place could withstand a casual search?
Vijay and Parminder place an order for posters; this seems to go smoothly, though Parminder detects traces of earlier magic use in the office.
Iqbal doesn’t manage to follow the boss home, but we get his address. Ardeshir randomly follows the secretary, who goes to a café and waits until a specific man turns up; they go on to a cinema, then he walks her home.

14 September

We consider sending in the constable who was mind-altered before to see if something new happens to him. He points out that his visit was in the evening. (The written report confirms this.) There has been some minor change among the food vendors, but the local constable doesn’t think it significant.
In the evening, the constable goes in first, with Iqbal nearby, and Parminder planning to follow a few minutes later. There’s a very slow answer to the constable’s knock at the door; he’s whammied again, though Parminder isn’t when he turns up hoping to collect the posters early.
We obtain a search warrant, and I go in ahead. Thngs go smoothly; the real surprise is one Mohindra Gahlot, a Hindu priest who claims not to be able to read Bengali and therefore to have nothing to do with all this subversion that he’s shocked to discover.
He is clearly a well-known person in Kolkata, and I ensure that he has nothing to complain of during his brief arrest and interview. (But he will definitely bear further observation.)
There has been reasonable blinding in the matter of payment for the printing and so on, though the account is associated with the German Embassy. Other outgoings there have been in cash.