NEW DELHI, Oct. 18, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — In June 1943, seventeen-year-old Bharati “Asha” Sahay, a headstrong Indian teenager living in Japan during the Second World War, decides to join the Rani of Jhansi Regiment of the Indian National Army after meeting Subhas Chandra Bose. She starts to jot down her thoughts in a diary, and thus begins one of the most significant personal accounts of the Indian freedom movement.
Biography, Memoir and True Story | History | Non-fiction
Hardback | 252 pp | Rs 599 | Releasing 28th Oct 2022
“Lt Bharati ‘Asha’ Sahay Choudhry—Asha-san in her first home in Japan—tells the gripping story of her unusual life. As the eldest daughter of a couple of Indian expatriate freedom fighters, she had burned with the desire to fight for the independence of her faraway motherland, India. She was allowed to leave her war-torn first home, Japan, to join the Rani of Jhansi Regiment of the Indian National Army by her commander-in-chief Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, at the age of only seventeen, in March 1945. After the defeat of the Indian National Army in August 1945, she came to India in 1946, where she made her new home in the country to which she had devoted her love and her wish to sacrifice everything. With her indomitable spirit she is a true Rani of Jhansi in her ripe age.”
— Anita Bose Pfaff, daughter of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose
ABOUT THE BOOK
In June 1943, seventeen-year-old Bharati “Asha” Sahay, a headstrong Indian teenager living in Japan during the Second World War, decides to join the Rani of Jhansi Regiment of the Indian National Army after meeting Subhas Chandra Bose. She starts to jot down her thoughts in a diary, and thus begins one of the most significant personal accounts of the Indian freedom movement.
Together with her father, Anand Mohan Sahay—a close companion of Bose—and others committed to the cause of Indian independence, Asha forges a path that takes her from war-torn Tokyo to the jungles of Thailand. She learns how to hold a rifle and shoot the enemy, and she discovers what it means to be a patriot fighting for the liberation of a country she has no memories of but carries deep in her heart.
Written in Japanese between 1943 and 1947, and translated into English for the first time by Tanvi Srivastava, The War Diary of Asha-san is a memoir of courage, honour and love, by a young girl who must grow up quickly in the midst of war.
Lt Bharati “Asha” Sahay Choudhry says, “When I originally wrote the Hindi version of my war memoirs in 1972, it was from scraps of paper and from my memories of my tumultuous teenage years in Japan, the country of my birth, in the 1940s. That it has now been translated into English by my granddaughter-in-law, Tanvi, is especially gratifying—she has been able to capture my emotions and the passion of those days. I have always wanted the youth of today to know the sacrifices of those freedom fighters who gave us free India. While this book is a personal story, encapsulated within it is the history of our struggle for freedom. I hope that the love for India will propel our youth to make it a ‘sone ki chiriya’ (golden bird) once again. I hope The War Diary of Asha-san is read by every young Indian, especially our girls.”
Tanvi Srivastava says, “It is an honour to share The War Diary of Asha-san with a new generation of readers. Translating this book, however, was a fortuitous accident. Sometime last year, I read an article by Jhumpa Lahiri advising emerging writers to try their hand at translation, treating it as a form of ‘literary apprenticeship.’ On my bookshelf was my grandmother-in-law’s war memoirs. I thought translating it would be a good way of getting to know her better while improving my craft. Little did I know then that translation is all about discovery—discovering Asha-san’s state of the mind, discovering myself as a writer and translator, and discovering the historical context of the story—the remarkable world of the Azad Hind Government. It was a privilege to research the Indian National Army and to learn about young men and women like Asha-san who sacrificed everything for Netaji’s idea of independent India—an inclusive, pluralistic India.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR AND THE TRANSLATOR
Lt Bharati “Asha” Sahay Choudhry was born in Kobe, Japan, in 1928 and joined the Rani of Jhansi Regiment of the Indian National Army at the age of seventeen. Her father, Anand Mohan Sahay, was a minister in the cabinet of the Azad Hind Government and a political adviser to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. Asha is currently ninety-four years old and lives in Patna with her son, Sanjay.
Tanvi Srivastava is a writer of fiction and has published short stories both online and in print. She is also a travel entrepreneur specializing in African expeditions. Tanvi is married to Asha’s grandson and lives in Bangalore with her two wild children.
PRAISE FOR THE BOOK
“Bharati ‘Asha’ Sahay’s war diary is a deeply moving first-hand account of the patriotic fervour of the Azad Hind movement led by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose as seen through the eyes of an idealistic teenager as she travelled from Japan via Taiwan to Thailand to join the Rani of Jhansi Regiment. It documents the dramatic impact of the saga of Netaji and the INA on the Indian people in the aftermath of World War II, as she travels across India with her father Anand Mohan Sahay and is eventually reunited with her mother Sati Sen in 1947. This evocative translation of a diary originally written in Japanese will be an inspiration for the younger generation of Indians on the 75th anniversary of independence.”
— Sugata Bose, Gardiner Professor of Oceanic History and Affairs, Harvard University, and author of His Majesty’s Opponent: Subhas Chandra Bose and India’s Struggle Against Empire
“A valuable first-hand account of an important part of history, still relatively untold, when the struggle for Indian independence crossed paths with the war in the Far East. Asha-san’s memoirs bring out her love for Japan, as well as her fierce love for India, and provide a cultural cross-reference that is not available in Allied accounts of the Second World War. Seen through the unfiltered lens of a seventeen-year-old who signs up for the Rani of Jhansi Regiment, it is a glimpse into the leadership of Subhas Chandra Bose in the Far East and the organization of the INA. This translation will bring a complicated story to a wider readership. It shows that the narrative of war and independence is never black-and-white, and not always the one told by the victors.”
— Shrabani Basu, author of Victoria & Abdul: The True Story of the Queen’s Closest Confidant
“This is a beautiful, engrossing book that I wholeheartedly recommend to every Indian. The role of militant women in national liberation struggles is forgotten all too soon, and they become mere footnotes in history. Lt Bharati ‘Asha’ Sahay Choudhry, of the Rani of Jhansi Regiment of the Indian National Army, is a historical figure in our nation’s freedom struggle, and this memoir, in her own words, makes for exhilarating reading. It is humorous (as when she learns Hindi) and exciting (as when she learns to fire a machine gun)—and I urge you to pick up this brilliant memoir.”
— Meena Kandasamy, author of When I Hit You: Or, A Portrait of the Writer as a Young Wife
About HarperCollins India
HarperCollins India publishes some of the finest writers from the Indian Subcontinent and around the world, publishing approximately 200 new books every year, with a print and digital catalogue of more than 2,000 titles across 10 imprints. Its authors have won almost every major literary award including the Man Booker Prize, JCB Prize, DSC Prize, New India Foundation Award, Atta Galatta Prize, Shakti Bhatt Prize, Gourmand Cookbook Award, Publishing Next Award, Tata Literature Live! Award, Gaja Capital Business Book Prize, BICW Award, Sushila Devi Award, Sahitya Akademi Award and Crossword Book Award. HarperCollins India also represents some of the finest publishers in the world including Harvard University Press, Gallup Press, Oneworld, Bonnier Zaffre, Usborne, Dover and Lonely Planet. HarperCollins India is now the recipient of five Publisher of the Year Awards – In 2021 and 2015 at the Publishing Next Industry Awards, and in 2021, 2018 and 2016 at Tata Literature Live. HarperCollins India is a subsidiary of HarperCollins Publishers.
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