First published: Feb 1, 2013
The Caravanne Magazine / By Vernon Gonsalves
In 2007, the Naxal activist Vernon Gonsalves was arrested by the Maharashtra Police and charged on 18 counts, including that of waging guerilla war against the Indian state. Six years on, though now acquitted in many of these cases, Gonsalves continues to languish as an undertrial in Nagpur Central Jail, after a stint in Mumbai’s Arthur Road Jail. If something fruitful has emerged from his long incarceration, it is words. In Gonsalves’s short story “Jailbird Jabbar”, the narrator—an “old class-strugglewalla”—tells us the story of Jabbar, one of the thousands of adolescents in Mumbai who live freestyle on the street, make a living from its many systems of trade, bootlegging, and barter, and sometimes fall foul of the law.