A visit to Poland becomes the premise of Jyoti Menon’s second novel Lock On Bridge Tumsky

A love story entangled in the tragic irony of war — Lock On Bridge Tumsky is about this and more. A mix of history, travel and fiction, Chennai-based Jyothi Menon’s second novel was recently released in the city by Mrs. Y.G. Parthasarathy. The first copy was received by Latha Kumaraswami, managing trustee, TANKER Foundation.

Jyothi was on a professional visit to Poland in March last year and suddenly found herself on the Tumsky bridge, along with a tourist guide. “I had a weekend to myself and decided to look around the place. Mateusz Kornacki, my tour guide took me on a five-hour walk around the city and I found myself on the bridge over River Oder. There were all these locks on the bridge and I was rather fascinated by it,” says Jyothi. Her guide explained that many people who left the German Breslau (which later became Polish Wroclaw after World War II) put locks on the bridge with the names of their loved ones. “A lot of them fled the country to Asia or elsewhere. When they came back many years later, they found that other people had occupied their ancestral homes and so on.”

Among those locks was one that was sea-green, with the names Peter and Lena written on it. This became the premise for Jyothi’s book. Two lovers, Peter and Lena are in love during World War II. When Breslau is going through a transformation, they are torn apart. Peter stays back (in Polish Wroclaw) and Lena travels to Cochin. Will they ever find each other again? “The lock is symbolic of eternal love,” says Jyothi. “I bring one of the characters to Kerala because it’s not a very well-known fact that Cochin then had quite a few Jews. The story has some amount of fact and history but it is fiction because I’ve taken a lot of creative liberties.”

The Lock On Bridge Tumsky took a year to write. “As I kept writing, the story built itself and in the end, it became a short, pocket-friendly book,” says the author. Jyothi’s previous book The Angel of God won the 2009 Jaycey Award for Best Novelist in the Indie Book category. “I was approached by a few people to make it into a movie but nothing has been finalised yet. Currently, my friend and I have compiled a book of short stories,” says Jyothi. The Lock On Bridge Tumsky is published by Helios Books and is available for Rs. 200.