Memory of Light
Nominated | Book Awards 2021 | Creative Writing in English (Fiction & Poetry)
Memory of Light
Preparations for King George the Third’s fiftieth birthday gala are in full swing in Lucknow. As poets and performers vie to be part of the show, Chapla Bai, a dazzling courtesan from Kashi, briefly enters this competitive world, and sweeps the poet Nafis Bai off her feet. An irresistible passion takes root, expanding and contracting like a wave of light. Over two summers, aided by Nafis’s friends, the poets Insha and Rangin, and Sharad, himself in love with a man, they exchange letters and verses, feeding each other the heady fruit of desire. When Chapla leaves for home, they part with the dream of building a life together. Can their relationship survive the distances?
Narrated in the voice of Nafis, Memory of Light weaves an exquisite web of conversations, songs, reminiscences around a life-changing love.
Ruth Vanita taught at Delhi University for twenty years and is now professor at the University of Montana. She was founding co-editor of Manushi, 1978-90. She is the author of several books, including Love's Rite: Same-Sex Marriages in Modern India (2005); Gender, Sex and the City: Urdu Rekhti Poetry in India 1780-1870 (2012); and Dancing with the Nation: Courtesans in Bombay Cinema (2017). She is the co-editor of Same-Sex Love in India: A Literary History, and has translated many works of fiction and poetry from Hindi and Urdu to English, most notably Chocolate: Stories on Male-Male Desire by Pandey Bechan Sharma 'Ugra' (2008). This is her first work of fiction. She divides her time between Missoula and Gurgaon.