Vidya Mani comes out with third book at 87
Many believe that old age is more to look back on than look forward to. At 87, Vidya Mani, a former principal of Government College, Mohali, has proved them wrong by penning down her third book, The Last Lap.
“Pain is not as important as happiness. One has to carry one’s own cross but happiness must be shared,” says Vidya, who started writing at 80.
Her first two books, The Guide of Destiny, and Of Us and Them, were a collection of short stories, while the third is her first novel. It took her four years to write it because of a lung ailment and her husband, who is her silent pillar of support, being diagnosed with cancer.
“This book is a by-product of the angst and struggle my parents went through in the last four years. The novel, set in the Europe of a century back, is focused on the life of a girl, Maya, with the sea as the leitmotif. The author relies on magic realism and weaves her story around the theme of us having no control over our destiny,” says Vidya’s daughter and bureaucrat Arti Ahuja while introducing the book.
Releasing the book in Panchkula on Sunday afternoon, Punjabi playwright Atamjit Singh, a former colleague of Vidya, recalled their association as academicians. “Her subject was zoology but when she retired, I suggested she take up writing because not only will people benefit but she will also live long and better. A writer is jawan (young) even in old age,” he says.
“Most literature is born out of pain and empathy. Writing is cathartic. The writer has to get into the skin of his or her characters, infuse blood and breathe life in them with emotions. But after writing, the creative satisfaction is bliss,” he adds.
The author’s son-in-law Manoj Ahuja, who is a special director at Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration in Mussoorie, says, “Vidya Mani is progressive and not a prisoner of norms. She has the empathy to see dignity in all. She is caring, concerned, optimistic and non-judgmental which is why she has friends across age groups.”
Wrapping up the event in her inimitable style, the author says, “The question of ‘what next’ nudged me to write. I wanted to do something purposeful. With my family’s support, particularly my daughter’s motivation, I’m three books old. Life has its ups and downs but there is a balance. If you lose something, you gain something, too. Jo paaya hai woh paas hai, so enjoy the blessings. This book was an excuse, my real purpose was to meet all my friends.”