Looking for Lakshmi

By Rajan Soni

This story begins at high seas on a 12-day voyage across the Indian Ocean, in the bowels of the SS Karanja bound for Bombay. It is February 1972, and author Rajan Soni has 200 pounds, stitched into the inside pocket of his trousers by an Indian tailor in Mombasa who is 'wise to the embraces of Indian pickpockets.' The 1,000-mile journey to his ancestral home in North Punjab lies ahead. Rajan Soni weaves together aspects of both his African and Indian inheritance to fashion the tale of his search for his anonymous Indian grandmother, Bibiji, whose legacy is shrouded in silence. The political and spiritual entwine as the writer traces the shadow of Bibiji through generations of his family dispersed across continents. His is a search for meaning that conjures universal themes which will resonate for readers who see their own migratory histories etched on familiar canvases of social turmoil, latent lines of fate, family, and political history shaping personal destiny. This evocative narrative straddles the emerging discipline of Indian Ocean studies and the popular genre of life writing. By turns restless, sardonic, lyrical, reflexive - and always quietly compassionate - Looking for Lakshmi is an engaging new contribution to diasporic writing. *** "Rajan Soni's gentle lyricism gives content to the abstractions of provenance and becoming. While we are all aware of the constitutive intersection of the roots and routes of identity, Looking for Lakshmi maps vividly the various journeys that ushered the author into being. Its portraits - of different times, contexts and people - transform cultural history into lived reality. As readers, we are blessed by Soni's invitation to travel with him." -- Michael Titlestad, Professor of Literature, U. of the Witwatersrand (Series: Unisa Flame) [Subject: Biography, Diaspora Studies, India Studies, African Studies]

Publication Date: 3/3/2015
Format: Paper
ISBN: 9781868887941