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Fiji writer lives it up in India

Mereseini Marau
Thursday, June 20, 2013

A FIJIAN author is making his presence known in the literature circle in India since launching his first novel late last month.

Baichand Patel, who resides in New Delhi, said it took him about seven of his twilight years to complete Mothers Lovers and Other Strangers.

Mr Patel, who is from Karavi in Ba and has three books to his credit — Chasing the Good Life, Happy Hours and Bollywood's Top 20: Superstars of Indian Cinema — said working on his novel was challenging, but was glad he completed it.

Dedicating the 246-page novel to his two daughters Shyama and Devika, Mr Patel said he loved writing but it was his neighbour and mentor Khushwant Singh who suspected he had a novel in him.

"Once I started on it, he was a constant source of encouragement," he said.

In the book, Mr Patel crocheted a tale of a young man's journey from poverty to privilege but with a past that came to haunt him.

This is a story of a Bollywood star composer Ravi whose detailed childhood living in debilitating poverty in an Indian village was something that boosted him to work towards fame when he went to Mumbai.

Ravi's idyllic childhood ended the day he watched his mother, Radha, climb into a truck in the wee hours of the morning.

Abandoned with his disease-stricken father, Mahesh, Ravi is hurtled into adulthood and the big, bad world.

Living in poverty, the father and son duo find kindness and shelter in unlikely quarters.

But respite from hardship is brief as father and son are parted and Ravi escapes to Mumbai to find fame and fortune in the big city.

In the hustle and bustle of the metropolis, Ravi can forget his past and concentrate on building a future as a successful Bollywood composer.

From his humble days in Dharavi, to his fortuitous move to Juhu, his perseverance and cleverness pay off and soon, Ravi is living his dream in Pali Hill.

He meets Sandhya, a beautiful, educated young socialite and is engaged to marry her.

But when a body is found on the railway tracks, Ravi's charmed existence is threatened by police enquiries that probe into his past.

Mr Patel said the book was a light and very good Sunday read in which one would easily follow it because of its easily understood prose.

Victoria Mixon, an independent editor who guided Mr Patel through the perils and pitfalls of writing a first novel, said his portrait of India — from a dreamy village childhood to life-threatening poverty and homelessness to the heights of Bollywood fame and fortune — was delicate, detailed, and ultimately stark: a revelation of the hidden desperation that drives all of our most crucial life decisions.

This is no normal rags to riches story.

It's a must read if you love mystery or if you prefer shifting in the setting and not just the straight forward storytelling type.

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