Mauli – Badrinarayan Pradhan


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In the five years following the Anglo-Gorkha war of 1814-16 the officials of the Raj painstakingly survey and map the boundaries between British India and Nepal. Unaware that it now divides the two territories, the Mechi calmly flows southwards from mountain to sea, wending its way in and out of the line of border posts set by men.

More than a century later as the world goes to war with itself for the second time, a young girl goes home after finishing school in Loreto Convent, Darjeeling, fording the Mechi on an elephant to a life in the feudal Tarai along the foothills of the Himalaya.

Immersing herself in the warm embrace of an extended family she hardly remembers, she rediscovers the bliss of pastoral Nepali life and language in dances and festivals, markets and fairs. But she also encounters, endures and overcomes adversity, loss and impuissance as a woman in the great upheavals of the fifties, the first birth pangs of modern Nepal. Meanwhile, across the border posts, unshackled from two centuries of English rule, a newborn India is only just finding its feet.

Mauli is an account of her journey, first as a girl and then as a woman, set against a transnational ferment and the ironies of a rapidly decolonising world.


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