Author Ruth Vanita's new e-book Memory of Light is a same-sex love story in the 18th century India
Set in the colonial backdrop, this story explores a romantic relationship between a female courtesan and a poetess
Amidst the gloomy lockdown, Penguin Random House has come up with a beautiful lesbian tale set in the 18th century India. The e-book titled Memory of Light by Ruth Vanita, to be released on April 20 is a love story of a dazzling courtesan from Kashi named Chapla Bai and poet Nafis Bai. As poets and performers vie to be a part of the celebrations of King George III's 5oth birthday, an irresistible passion takes root, expanding and contracting like a wave of light when Chapla enters into the life of Nafis for a brief while. When Chapla leaves for home, they part with the dream of building a life together. Can their relationship survive the distances? That's the riveting plot of Ruth's story.
Narrated in the voice of Nafis, Memory of Light weaves an exquisite web of conversations, songs, reminiscences around a life-changing love. The book also highlights how gender stereotypes were not so strict in those times, where same-sex love was common among both men and women, as was the egalitarian friendship between men and women.
Ruth Vanita taught at Delhi University for 20 years and is now a professor at the University of Montana. She is the author of several books, including Sappho and the Virgin Mary: Same-Sex Love and the English Literary Imagination (1996); Love’s Rite: Same-Sex Marriage in India (2005); Gandhi’s Tiger and Sita’s Smile: Essays on Gender, Sexuality and Culture (2005), Gender, Sex and the City: Urdu Rekhti Poetry in India 1780–1870 (2012); Dancing with the Nation: Courtesans in Bombay Cinema (2017).