Saturday, March 19, 2016





“ Deprivition often makes a writer.”
Ved Mehta

He is Ved Mehta. Ved enjoys a respectful and long  Presence in Literay circles of America.He is an American Citizen but India lives in his heart .

Born in 1934 in Lahore, the youngest of five children in a well-to-do family, Ved was Struck by Cerebro-spinal meningitis . He turned Blind due to irreversible damage from this tragedy when he was barely three years old.

In 1947, his family crossed into India and moved to Bombay as refugees with just clothes on their bodies . Later his father ,who happened to be an affluent doctor in Lahore , got him admitted to the Arkansas School for the Blind .He also went to Cambridge and Oxford.

1983, at the age of 49, Mehta married Linn Cary whom he knew since she was 11.

“ She gave me what I always wanted: Companionship and children. I was a rolling stone, and she brought stability and joy to my life."

Since the 1980s, Mehta has taught creative writing and Indian history at universities including Yale, Vassar, Columbia and Oxford. He has been a staff writer for “New Yorker” magazine.

 His life happens to be the source material for a  great Novel.  Ved Mehta has written about 20 Books . Some  prominent Books penned by him  are …

(1) Face to Face (Autobiography, 1957)
(2) Walking the Indian Streets (Travelogue )
(3)Fly and the Fly-Bottle: Encounters with British Intellectuals (contemporary Philosophy and Historiography)
(4)Delinquent Chacha (Novel)
(5)Portrait of India
(6)Daddyji (Biography),
(7)Mahatma Gandhi and His Apostles
(8)All for Love ( A Personal History of Desire and Disappointment )
(9)The Ledge Between the Streams ..

I have read only one book penned by him; His Autobiographical work “The Ledge Between the Streams” .It is the story of a boy who lost eye sight at an age of three years and his subsequent sruggle to come up the ladder of life and be a successful writer . You also learn how he learnt English, Braille, horseback riding, bicycling, touch typing, roller skating coping with his blindness.
The book takes on an engrossing journey through Lahore, Muree and Rawalpindi . The stories of Partition and then Mehta family living as Refugees. Some rare family photographs also form a Part of the Book .Chapters Like “Threads of Lahore “ keep you engrossed .

kashmir also figures in this book where Ved Mehta along with his parents visited as a boy of 9 during summer Holidays of 1943. In fact the Book derives its title from an incident in Kashmir only where he and his family had a miraculous escape.

During the family’s kashmir visit in 1943, He remembers he was tempted to put his hands in the confluence of Jhelum and an icy stream. A narrow ledge separated the icy fast-moving water coming from the snows of the Himalayas and joining Jhelum river . When Ved sat on his heels down on the ledge and put a hand in each stream at the confluence point, A cloudburst suddenly caused the Jhelum River to rise, and the Mehtas had a miraculous escape.

The book comes up as a  brilliant  and engrossing Narrative  .  He writes with a unique and impressive style that is unruffled  and leisurely.  I read it in one go .

He has been a frequent visitor to India and has also visIted kashmir during some visits . About one such visit Poet Farooq Nazki Informed me as under :

“Yes I did spend sometime with him in Nedous  Hotel where he stayed for a couple of weeks.I  read out some passages from kashmir history  and also about the Prophet’s (PBUH) relic  at  Hazratbal shrine in kashmir. We  had a shikara ride up to  to Chhatabal.  He never made you to believe that he had some disadvantage;  I mean his unfortunate  blindness. He was brilliant and well informed  all along our conversation. Such people are actually God’s gift  “

My friend Adarsh Azad Arora ( son of poet Jagan Nath Azad ) informs  as  under :

“I met Ved Mehta when I went to invite him for a DD programme. As I entered his room, he got up from his chair, came to me unerringly and offered his hand. A person who did not know would never imagine his visual handicap.We sat down and talked. I told him of a book of his which I had read. I appreciated the masterly way he had narrated the issue concerning the 1964  Holy Relic issue  of kashmir  , and quoted the exact lines where without specifically accusing, he made it clear who actually was  responsible  for that unfortunate incident . He liked it.”

In July 1982, he won a  John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation award, a five-year fellowship for $236,000 .

So Long so much on Ved Mehta …..

( Autar Mota )

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