By: Githa Hariharan
"Fugitive Histories" is penned down by Githa Hariharan. The story has a deep meaning and feel. It goes as: Mala stays in Delhi. Her house there is empty, save for a lifetime of sketches that are left behind by her late husband and the memories they conjure. Her husband is Asad. While rolling through the sketches with a high intensity, on restless afternoons and sleepless nights, she sends for the ghosts from her childhood. Then she relives the adventures, the heady days of love and optimism when Asad and she strongly defied all social ways or should we say, conventions so to build a life together. She recalls all the struggles of her life, especially of the relations so as to understand how events far removed could so easily be grabbed away with the many certainties that they had always taken for granted.
As her story of "Fugitive Histories" unfolds, various other characters come in to the scene. There is Sara, Mala and Asad’s daughter, who is unable to commit to or focus on a cause that will revive her faith in her parents’ ideals and in fact in her own. She searches a purpose that ultimately brings her from Mumbai to Ahmedabad. Yasmin is another character in the story, whom Sara meets across a lately created ‘border’. She is a a survivor of mayhem, who is secretly dreaming of college as well was hoping for the miraculous return of her brother, Akbar, who goes missing. She moves menacing by-lanes, to reach her school safely, every day. She feels threatened and insecure in addition to feeling depressed and unsure. Many other lives are also trapped in the midpoint of their life, with many of them caught in the net of memory, agony and hate; while others are seeking release in the private dreams and valiant hopes. Marked by an surprising clarity of observation and deep empathy, “Fugitive Histories” exposes the bequest of prejudice that, sometimes with subtlety, and perception-wise, continues to affect the incongruent lives in the present-day of the country. Githa Hariharan portrays all of it quite well with a meticulous precision the web of human connections and how it binds as well as divides.
Githa Hariharan, an Indian author and editor based in New Delhi, is known for her writings. Born in Coimbatore, and brought up in Mumbai and Manila, Githa pursued a BA (in English) from University of Mumbai and a MA (in Communications) from the Fairfield University. She first worked in the Public Broadcasting System in New York. Then, she worked with a publishing firm as an editor in India. Currently, she works as a freelance editor. She, along with her husband, has won the right to have the children named after her (instead of carrying the father's name). This famous case was argued by Indira Jaising, and the Supreme Court agreed that the mother was also a "natural guardian" of the child.
She is versatile in writing and writes on varied topics. She has won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize in 1993. Her first novel, “The Thousand Faces of Night" talks about the problems of women, linked with Indian Mythology. The dilemma of her female characters tangled with the Indian myths as Mahabaratha to the gods, goddesses and legendary heroines establishing patriarchal concepts perfectly weaving all these elements. On the other hand, “When Dreams Travel,” begins from the point where “The Arabian Nights” left off and the author suggests what could have possibly happened to the lead characters.
Published by: Penguin
Available on: Amazon India Price: INR 248 (Paperback)