Chapter XXXIV from E M Forster’s A Passage to India: A Detailed Summary and Analysis (Part 3 Temples)
Fielding has remained absent from the scene for the last entire chapter and again enters the scene as a senior official to inspect the situation of education in Central India. Aziz hoped to avoid him because he had learnt Fielding had married Miss Quested. Seeing the two together would be like a repetition of the catastrophe. However, the note arrives from Fielding forwarded by Godbole and seeing the situation of flood and bad weather, this time Aziz would not be able to avoid them. The hatred inside the Muslim was difficult to control.
Dr Aziz and Godbole left the palace at nearly the same time. Godbole was slightly ahead of him and Aziz tried to call out a hello. However, Godbole did not want to be disturbed so just waved to him adding that “He had arrived at European guest house possibly”. Aziz knew who he was but did not want to think of him and hoped the floods would have kept him for longer. He was Fielding and for anyone else to get there was impossible in such weather. Fielding was on an official visit. He was sent to Central India to investigate the situation of English education there. He had married Miss Quested (Aziz knew) and so Aziz did not want to see him again.
He thought of Old Godbole and knew he was a simple old man despite not understanding what these annual antics meant. Aziz had come to Mau through Godbole and without him. It would have been difficult for Aziz to grasp the problems so totally different from Chandrapore. Two major sects in Mau were the Brahmin and the non Brahmin. English and Muslims hardly found mention or were not as prominent as in Chandrapore. Forster again notes the muddle that Hinduism is. It is divided into thousands of sects and clans which are known by several names and even after you research it for years, you will hardly see a consistent picture. In Mau, Aziz lived a not so noticeable life. He worked under a Hindu doctor but was the chief medicine man to the court but the energy of the game like in Chandrapore was missing and his operating instruments were laid down to rust. He lived without making any fuss.
When things start going wrong, they keep going wrong. Trust once shaken becomes difficult to regain. The English had frightened him so much he had lost trust in them completely including Fielding. There were just two escapades for him – one was to show his frustration on committees and the other to retreat into some jungle state where he could carry out his profession without getting disturbed. He felt tricked by Fielding and the rift that opened between them after the case had kept widening. The post cards that he sent from Venice were formal communication and therefore appeared cold to the Muslim community that believed in confidences. At last the news that he expected had arrived from Hampstead. Fielding had written that he was going to marry someone he knew..and Aziz did not bother to read further. Forster has opened and read the Indian Muslim mindset through these characters of Aziz, Mahmoud Ali and Hamidullah. Once they start hating it is difficult for them to stop it and despite their modesty, they are quick to suspect and lose trust in someone. Aziz destroyed all the subsequent letters from Fielding without even opening. Fielding’s friendship felt like a foolish experiment and even if Aziz sometimes thought that his dear friend and made sacrifices for him, at last the hatred for the English would overcome him. He thought he was an Indian at last, being no friends with any of the English.
Life had been free from jolts since then and Aziz had married again and lived with his children. He wrote poetry and also went hunting when no Hindus were watching. His poetry was mostly about purdah and the oriental woman. He made claims like India would have been free had the women fought beside the men in the battle of Plassey. One of his poems touched Godbole deeply who appreciated it so much that he wanted to translate it into Hindi and Sanskrit. His poems did not have much logic but did not fail to strike a note. Godbole told him that His Highness felt proud of his works and had been talking about it to Colonel Maggs. Maggs was a dejected opponent of Aziz and a political agent of neighbourhood. The CID had been watching Aziz since the age and thanks to Miss Quested’s mistake he will be under watch entire life. Colonel Maggs had learnt of the suspect going to Mau and approached his highness to let him become his sacred doctor. Till some years ago these political agents were formidable people who wanted every royal treatment till they decided but the system had changed now and these agents had adopted their manners to suit the states and their rulers. Rajah had kept him since with time Hindus had grown more tolerant in approach.
All had been well for Aziz till now when the note arrived. Godbole had forwarded the note from Fielding to Aziz because he had religious duties to perform. Fielding had inspected Mudkul, nearly been drowned at Deora and now at Mau he had not been supplied with amenities. He wanted to see his highness and there were no eggs or nets at the Guest house. There was to be a torchlight procession and Fielding with his wife and her brother wanted to see it. However, Aziz found it difficult to overcome his anxiety associated with Miss Quested and tore the note. The condition of flood was worse down the country and so these people were going to remain in Mau for several days and it would be difficult for Aziz to avoid them. However, he wished not to see them again on any cost.