Pain most intense emotion: Author of partition saga

By Anjali Ojha, IANS
Saturday, December 11, 2010

NEW DELHI - Why are the stories she writes so sad? That is a question even Ruskin Bond asked her. Author Mona Verma, who is ready with her second book, says pain is the most intense emotion and real people are not afraid of accepting their pain.

“My characters are based on real people, and real people are not ashamed to accept their pain…Real people accept their mistakes, correct them, and of course, pain is the most intense emotion,” Verma, who explores the pain of a little girl in her upcoming book “God Is A River”, told IANS.

Her first self-published book “Bridge To Nowhere”, a collection of short stories, was launched last year by Ruskin Bond and won much acclaim from critics. The noted author had put the same question to her.

“When I took my first book to Ruskin Bond, I asked him if he liked my book and told him that I wanted him to launch it…,” Verma said.

“It was a small room with lots of books and his Padma Shri was there. Then he asked, ‘you have such a nice smile, why the stories are so sad?’,” she recalled. She had then replied, “Our lives are like wet sunshine, sometimes we don’t want to reflect”.

To Verma’s delight, Ruskin Bond agreed to launch her book. “I held my husband’s hand and said let’s leave before he changes his mind,” she laughed.

Her new book, being published by Prakash Books, is a novel set in pre-independence India. The book starts at the turn of the 19th century, weaving a story that blends history, events and fiction together.

“There are incidents in the book which retell stories I heard from my grandparents about partition,” said Verma, who is settled in Haridwar.

The story is spun around ‘zamindar’ patriarch Kulbhushan, his domestic help and caretaker Naaz bibi, and her daughter Noor.

“Belonging to different religions, their survival under the same roof when the country was sensitive to the slightest provocation was rather cumbersome. The mistakes that Kulbhushan makes come back to him after years,” she said.

The name of the book itself reflects the innocence of intention that lies within.

The pain of little Noor’s life is that her mother, a speech-impaired, cannot speak to her. The innocent child asks a Sufi saint who god is and from the explanation she gets, she concludes that god is a river, flowing eternally. Little does she know that this simple definition will land her in trouble with rioters who mistake her religious identity.

Born and brought up by her grandparents in the serene and spiritual Haridwar, Verma says she developed a keen interest in reading and writing as they did not have television at home.

“My grandfather brought lots of books for me,” she said with a smile.

Left in her grandparents’ care as her parents settled in Britain, Verma, however, moved to Delhi to do her graduation from Lady Shri Ram College. But she decided to go back to Haridwar for her grandparents. She now stays there with her husband, a teenaged daughter and son.

“Making them feel proud is the biggest satisfaction for me,” she says. “At the end of the day, you don’t have to go laughing your way to the bank, you must go to sleep with a smile,” she added.

(Anjali Ojha can be contacted at

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