Farthest Field: An Indian Story of the Second World War by Raghu Karnad
“It is said that the news of the world war reached Calicut along with the morning eggs…..
The egg boy may have been told that rationing and shortages were expected, and eggs would be priced up as a precaution. But he couldn’t have explained about the Panzers in Poland, the craven declaration from London, or the Viceroy in Delhi already committing India and Indians to the fray……….
……………Bobby never imagined, any more than the egg boy, how the war would rise up around India, or how it would divide the country, divide the army that enlisted him, and even divide Bobby against himself. Or that he, his sisters and his new-found brothers, his countrymen and men from all over the Empire, would be drawn out onto roads that led very far from home, and did not all lead back……….” from Raghu Karnad’s Farthest Field: An Indian Story of the Second World War.
Every photograph on the mantle, or the wall, or hidden between aged pages of albums, has a story to tell. Raghu Karnad had seen the three old photographs in his grandmother’s house, but never asked their names. The stories of the three men would have been lost with the death of his grandmother, had Raghu not worked backwards and pieced together the lives of Bobby Mugaseth, Manek Dadabhoy and Kodandera Ganapathy. The result of this painstaking task is a brilliantly documented historical saga, that honours not only the three brothers-in-law, who became brothers-in-arms, but also the countless Indians who were lost to the Second World War.
From movies to history books to novels, all tell the bone chilling tales of the concentration camps, the bloody battlefields in France and Russia, the Japanese Invasion and resilience of the Allied nations. Very few talk about how vital and game changing ,the Indian contribution was.While the nationalists used this ill-fated opportunity to voice out their disenchantment with the Imperial Rule and gain independence for India, there were those who fought valiantly to restore world order, as part of the British Army and Air Force. The Indian Army in the Second World War was the largest volunteer force the world had ever known. The Indian AirForce, formed in 1932, reigned the skies, protecting the eastern and western fronts of British India- The Jewel in the Crown.
With broken stories, anecdotes, and carefully collected evidence, Raghu builds up a poignant story of his family- their aspirations, their dreams, their failures and their losses. Intricately woven into this narrative, are glimpses of events that changed the course of history on a much larger scale. The account is not only heart wrenching, it is a valuable plethora of little known( or should one say…carefully withheld) facts pertaining to the Indian contribution towards a war that had nothing to do with the politics of India. Raghu’s ingenious and deft writing can be attributed to his successful career as a journalist. However, what makes this non fictional piece stand out and connect with the reader is his passionate emotional need to piece together reality!!!!
Definitely one of the best books I have read this year!!!!!
Artika Aurora Bakshi
Artika Aurora Bakshi is the author of three well-acclaimed children’s books,My Little Sikh Handbook, My Little Sikh Handbook 2: Ardas, My Little Sikh Handbook: Travel Journal, and an anthology of stories, Hold On To Me. Her first story, set in Amritsar, during the pre-Partition period, All She Had Left, was published on Story Mirror.
She co-manages thegoodbookcorner.com, a manuscript help and book review site. Her passion for reading has led her to helping other writers with their manuscripts.
She comes from a family of lawyers and has a master’s degree in International Banking & Finance.
Currently based in Sri Lanka, she teaches Commerce and History on a part-time basis at an international school and enjoys being part of the literary scene in Sri Lanka. A regular at the Galle Literary Festival and other literary events in Sri Lanka, Artika’s articles and book reviews have featured in the Daily Mirror, Daily News, The Ceylon Chronicle, and various blogs, such as, talkingcranes.com, sikhchic.com, sikhnet.com.
She was actively involved with SAARC Women’s Association of Sri Lanka and was President of the Association in 2016.
An avid reader, Artika runs an online book club with a membership base of over 600 members.
Her quotes are featured under soul.nightingale on Instagram and on Soul Nightingale by Artika Aurora Bakshi on Facebook.
Artika is also working on her fourth children’s book in the My Little Sikh Handbook series and a second anthology of stories for adults.
You can reach Artika at firstname.lastname@example.org .