A what-if love story for Kipling
Shreekumar Varma’s latest book recreates the world of an Anglo-Indian in today’s age
It usually takes an idea, or a character, to get a story flowing. But for novelist Shreekumar Varma, all it took was two words. The title of his new book, came to him long before the story did.
Well, figuratively speaking. “My earlier books had taken about six or seven years to finish. This one was over in four months… shortest book I have ever written,” Varma told the audience gathered at Grand Hotel for the launch of his book published by Anglo-Ink. “But to begin with, all I had was the brief ‘about Anglo-Indians’, and the words ‘Kipling’s Daughter’.”
Kipling’s Daughter, Anglo or Euro?
What finally emerged, after much reading and bouts of dry spells, was a fictional love story of the notquite-fictional and much loved author Rudyard Kipling.
Seen through the eyes of a fictional current-day descendant named, somewhat curiously, Reuben White,
travels back and forth in time to recreate the world, the mood and typical phrases and expressions associated with the term Anglo-Indian.
But that is not the term historian S Muthiah The Chronicler of Madras was invited to the launch to receive
the first copy of the book. Beginning his address with “Sorry I’m not in the best of form to entertain you today. But I couldn’t say no to one of my favourite students,” he brought to attention the community’s diverse roots, that could be traced back not only to the British, but also to the Portuguese.
“It is time you realised you are Euro-Indians, not Anglo-Indians. There are Pintos and D’Silvas and Harringtons…” said the noted writer, not so much to author Shreekumar Varma, as to members of the community gathered for the book launch.
Varma’s reading of an extract from the book, which drew many laughs from the audience with its descriptions, quips and tone, was followed by a conversation with Superintendent of Customs, Richard O’Connor, who is an Anglo-Indian himself. The conversation touched upon questions of identity and belonging, and comparisons between the Anglo-Indian and Parsi experiences in the country.
O’Connor also encouraged the author to discuss, among other things, his own experience with the Anglo-Indian community. “I grew up — from a childhood in Good Shepherd colony to my school days to college to a newspaper job — with Anglo-Indian friends,” recounted Varma.
The book launch had been organised in collaboration with Madras Book Club.