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  • Writer's pictureBernard Jan

India Was One

An Indian gave us the book which should encourage us to rethink our viewpoints and attitudes towards ourselves and others, especially now, when the walls grow around the globe like weeds after the heavy rain and the world seems divided more than ever in our lifetime.

With his slow and casual narrative style, An Indian introduces us into the lives of two childhood friends, Khaai and Jai, and guides us through their preparations for marriage and the mutual life as wife and husband. We learn about their everyday life and honeymoon in India, their departure for the United States and challenges and acclimatization to the new culture and customs, their trip through Europe and return to India when their homeland is divided in two countries and their life and the lives of millions of Indians take a face of a never ending nightmare.

An unusual angle of An Indian's prose is its educational character. Throughout the whole narration, even at the most gripping moments, An Indian teaches us about the Indian culture, language, religion, historical background, geography, extending this educational component even to the countries and places Jai and Khaai travel to. Some of the situations and moments he describes at great length and detail, like a cricket match between India and Pakistan, which might be too detailed and a little boring for a reader not into cricket, but is appreciated and entertaining for an Indian who lives for and is passionate about this sport.

Without a doubt, An Indian builds a climax of his story when Jai finds out about the turmoils in their country and talks over the phone to the operator of the Indian Consulate in San Francisco. Those are the moments when Khaai and Jai give in to their emotions and knowingly risk their personal fate to return home and find out what is happening to their parents, family and friends, in a country that was one but is now divided into two countries which practically cut all the communication with the rest of the world. Jai and Khaai are not the only ones; thousands of Indians from all corners of the world flood the sky in their urgency to return home, because you could take an Indian out of India, but you could never take India out of an Indian.

Khaai's and Jai's return to the two Indias is pumped with so much emotions and hopelessness mixed with irrational faith that it stands as a stark contrast to everything written and said until then. From now on An Indian's narration takes a turn into a passionate, emotional and more gripping one, making us believe any outcome is possible for that young couple, at the same time cleverly avoiding to give us nothing but a guess how their story ends.

The strongest message the novel India Was One sends us is not only about the importance of the unity of the country that has so many differences and divergences recognized under its flag, but the unity of the whole world. No political games or ideological and religious conflicts are worthy of the pain and suffering of a single, even the most insignificant, human being. Every man, woman and child has the right to happiness, and, if for no other reason, India must remain one.

For those intrigued to find out who is behind the pen name An Indian, the note about the author in his book says: The author was born and raised in Mumbai, India. He came to the US in 1989 to New York. He currently resides in Los Angeles with his wife and two children.

Nothing more than that. I can add one other detail he told me about himself in his personal correspondence with me, still respecting his wish for anonymity. He likes to write very thought-provoking books while being an entertaining story. And so he does.


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