05 Jun 2009 – Hay-on-Wye Bookshop (Bookends), Hay-on-Wye

This particular Bookends had a  big section of second-hand books, and I stumbled across a rich seam of these volumes of Mehta’s autobiography, enabling me to fill in nearly all the gaps.  I also now understand that he did a couple of summary-type volumes, which explains the strange overlaps I’ve found.

This volume covers Ved’s younger years, up to the time when he went to America in his teens to study at a blind school in Arkansas.  Notably, it covers the years of Indian Partition, vividly and movingly without being inappropriately gruesome. He is honest about his feelings about Hindu behaviour during the time, and gives such a vivid picture of the time – I’ve read a lot of memoirs and novels about this period and this really takes a detailed approach to what it was actually like for a normal family, all the more exceptional as Ved went blind at the age of four.  There’s light relief too – he learns to ride a bicycle and forms friendships and allegiances among the families and servants.  A great read – I love this series and am looking forward to the next few, although I fear I’ll be compelled to read them all in strict order at some stage, since I have nearly all of them now!