Partridge India Author| Ajit Mani, The Nawab’s Tears
Partridge India introduces Ajit Mani, author of The Nawab’s Tears.
Please briefly describe your book.
My book tells the story of a search for a priceless necklace known as The Nawab’s Tears which belonged to two Nawabs of the Deccan who were defeated and beheaded in serially fought engagements, in battles of the Carnatic Wars (1746-1763 CE). The necklace is believed to bring extreme bad fortune to anyone who wears it. A specialist in Medieval Deccan history locates it with the help of certain Masonic clues. He finds that his life and that of the present owner are now in danger and persuades her to return it to the family of one of the Nawabs who first owned it.
The story unfolds against the pre-modern and early modern history of the Deccan, with a summary of the politics of the Vijayanagara Empire, ending with its collapse after the Battle of Talikota 1565 CE.
The reader is introduced to the rituals of a highly secretive and advanced degree in Freemasonry and the fundamental tenets of Freemasonry – “Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth”. These tenets form the underlying values that appear and reappear throughout the narrative.
1. Who is the author “behind” the book?
I was born on 7 Feb 1947, about eight months before India gained independence. Both my parents were educated and that gave me a head start in life. My mother insisted that my brother and I be sent to an Anglo Indian boarding school in the Nilgiri Hills in the Indian State of Tamilnadu.
In addition to the English language, I studied Western music (violin) and was selected for the school choir. I participated in a number of inter-school music competitions.
I was fortunate to be introduced to the study of Indian history by Mr. St. John Smith who taught us to view history without bias and try to understand what were the major causes of events and their major effects.
I have dealt with my introduction to the English language and my experience with Anglo Indians in my book. I realised soon after I went to college at Madras that I and many others like me were different from those who had come from Regional Language Schools. We would frequently be referred to as Anglo Indians, because at that time there was no term for Indians who are ethnically Indian but educated to think, comprehend and communicate in English.
I studied Indian History at University level for a Bachelor’s degree. I was particularly interested in the medieval history of India which usually begins with the arrival of the Muslims in India in the late seventh century. I was fortunate to study under outstanding teachers like Prof. Ivan Abraham Eraly and Prof. S.Krishnaswamy.
It would appear that Islam with its newly formulated ideology imbued adventurers with energy to raid Indian kingdoms and remove treasure usually stored in temples. This tendency which carried into the next millennium when the Mughal Empire established itself has deeply hurt the Hindu psyche. This hurt is finding expression in hatred today in a country with a majority Hindu government.
2. Which influences have inspired you, with regard to your writing style and your book itself?
I have already mentioned the influence of Mr. St. John Smith, my English teacher at school (final year 1962) who encouraged me to express myself in simple English. He frequently reminded us that the main purpose of the written word is to communicate, not to impress others with the writer’s erudition.
I have read with great interest the works of John Keay, Jon Wilson, William Dalrymple and Charles Allen, which were entertaining observations of Indian history by English authors.
I have been writing blogs for select online groups and that gave me the confidence to venture on a more serious work, which would present a story within a historical context. I also wanted to create an interest in my readers in the history of the Vijayanagara Empire which ruled most of southern India called Dakhan or Dachanos by the Greeks. This powerful empire collapsed under the most surprising circumstances at the Battle of Talikota in 1565 CE. The story of the disappearance and fate of the vast treasure of this empire, reportedly on the backs of 550 elephants is an unsolved mystery which I found intriguing. I have woven some strands of the disappearance of this treasure into the fabric of my story.
My joining the Freemasons and Knights Templar gave me opportunities to go beyond rituals and study the real purpose of such secret societies as the “Invisible College”, “Rosicrucians” and “Illuminati”. It was primarily to give a sense of belonging and brotherhood to carefully selected members. These societies frequently pursued scientific knowledge which was suppressed by Church and State. To avoid persecution by either institution, secret methods, codes and puzzles were used to communicate. I have ‘invented’ completely new rituals to give readers a glimpse into the esoteric world of these societies.
It takes a true sense of history to appreciate that Robert Clive who arrived at Fort St. George, Madras in 1744 became a Freemason and attended Lodge of Rock No. 260 EC, Calcutta (Kolkata), before it was chartered in 1765, one of the oldest Masonic Lodges in India. It is equally important to understand that Robert Clive, who may have suffered from mood swings brought a new, possibly manic energy into empire building in the Indian subcontinent. If not for him, India may have become a French colony. Joseph François Dupleix, eighteenth century Governor-General of French India was checkmated by Robert Clive and Stringer Lawrence, who is regarded as the father of the Indian Army.
3. What is the one message you would like to convey to your readers about your book?
India belongs to everyone who lives in India as a legal citizen. India’s focus should be on unity, not uniformity. India’s diversity is its strength and we must learn to lead the country forward while respecting the culture and history of all provinces, which are unique.
4. Are you working on a sequel to your book?
No, although I am working on a novel about the extremist movement in Kerala State of India, which reacted violently against class or caste oppression. This movement resulted in land reforms and the rise of the Communist Party of India in Kerala which was the first time a Communist Government was democratically elected to office anywhere in the world. The people of Kerala are fiercely independent, rational and ready to go anywhere to earn a livelihood and adapt. The other side of the coin is that industry has not been able to create large-scale employment and wealth in Kerala.
I personally knew some of the dramatis personæ who were involved in violent incidents described in the book. I have visited some of the areas where Naxal violence erupted in the Wayanad district and talked to local people.
5. Are there any events, marketing ideas or promotions planned for your book?
I have purchased a package for Press Release in India from Partridge Publishing
6. What was your favourite part of your publishing experience?
I shall be much better organised for my forthcoming book. My favourite part was the proofing and finishing part.
7. What did you think of your Partridge experience?
I had the most courteous and prompt service from Partridge executives. I was very impressed by the speed at which the process advanced, taking full advantage of modern technology.
8. Finally, what advice would you give to aspiring authors?
If you have a story to tell, you are a potential author. Organise your thoughts and make an outline of what you want to say. Remember that every story must have a ‘Premise’ which consists of ‘the core dramatic issue, the movement of that issue toward resolution, and the fulfilment that resolution sets up for the story’s audience.’ Readers will use their education, imagination, emotions and aspirations to take in your story. You need to give them descriptions of the sights, sounds, smells, linkages, plots, and most important, of feelings. It is through these elements that a reader immerses himself or herself in the story.