Torn between identities

National identity is the cornerstone of Ratan Kaul’s recently published romantic novel, “Wings of Freedom”

December 03, 2014 08:15 pm | Updated April 07, 2016 02:33 am IST

Ratan Kaul at the launch

Ratan Kaul at the launch

Inter-religious love affairs often surface. Yet they are much frenzied about and seldom accepted by society. Such is the hype that it often leads to crises of identities, between two people in love. Recently, attending the launch of “Wings of Freedom”, a 270-odd page work of fiction, one realised how many layers exist in our diverse society for a simple emotion like love.

Seldom inter-religious love affairs are mired in linearity. Because, often, there lie multi-dimensional complexities like religion, culture, societal status, values and customs. In the book, the protagonist Raju and his beloved Eileen hail from different religions and nationalities, different races and cultures. Yet the love affair takes off. But what makes it different from the usual is that religion isn’t the cornerstone here. Instead, it is the national identity that stirs up a dilemma.

The story opens in the year 1911 when Delhi became the Capital city. Raju, a college student, is an Indian and Eileen, a teenager, is a British. The backdrop depicts the scenic tapestry of the city of Delhi as it existed a century ago. It takes you through the freedom movement and blends with it a bit of suspense and adventures.

“It offers an Indian perspective to the colonial days,” points Ratan Kaul, the author of the novel. “There have been many books on the days of British Raj. But almost all of them have been written from the British point of view. Novels like E.M. Forster’s ‘A Passage to India’, Paul Scott’s ‘The Jewel in the Crown’ are quite popular. But, they don’t capture the India story.”

Does it then mean that history changes with the change of pen? “Well, history besides being facts is also about interpretation. So, it is how we interpret it,” points out Kaul who has had a career in corporate management.

Does the love affair survive the societal pressures, the cultural divide and the political turmoil? Or does it get lost in the multiple identities? To know more, you need to know the story of Raj who is in an inner conflict. He is torn between the love of his life and the love for his country. But, just as one said, there are several complexities. Who knows you could get lost in the religion versus love or culture versus love debate. And for that, the “Wings of Freedom” author suggests, “You should just enjoy. Live free and love.”

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