I am not the best at writing letters that are also going to be on display but you know, I am trying. I recently read The Night Diary, which is currently the only book I am calling a favorite of this year and I’ve read 86 books so far. Reading it has made me incredibly pensive because the entire time I was reading it, I kept thinking that I was reading your and grandma’s story too. Sometimes its disheartening that something that impacted my family and 16 million other people so much isn’t really talked about. Everyone always talks about the liberation of India with pride or the end of a colonial rule but they always forget about the 14 million people who were displaced. The 14 million people who had to pack up and leave their possessions, homes, friends and sometimes even family behind. Nani has never talked to me about what happened. The only stories that have been passed down to me have been through Mama who told me you told them to her when she was growing up and would summers at your house. Mama always tells me the story of how you grabbed your kids and your husband, packed a little tin full of gold and used it to pay people along the way as you crossed the border. By the time you made it, you had nothing left. No home, no income and no money to start a new life in a country that wasn’t technically your home. Mama says you were a pretty bad-ass lady and I wish I could have gotten to meet you. Maybe you’re the ghost that I think is haunting me? If so, feel free to say hi. Sometimes I also wonder what life would have been like if the partition hadn’t happened and you didn’t have to flee your home but I wouldn’t be here if that happened. I think the thing I reflect the most on is how different my cultural identity would be if you never had to leave because of the horrible things happening at the time. But you know, thats was out of your control and I am glad you made it mostly in one piece. I know millions other didn’t and my heart hurts for them too. Anyway, it was nice talking to you even though you won’t be reading this. I hope you’re as proud of me as I am of you!
Nani = maternal grandmother
About the BookThe Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani
Published by Dial on March 6th, 2018
Genres: Historical, Middle-Grade
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In the vein of Inside Out and Back Again and The War That Saved My Life comes a poignant, personal, and hopeful tale of India's partition, and of one girl's journey to find a new home in a divided country
It's 1947, and India, newly independent of British rule, has been separated into two countries: Pakistan and India. The divide has created much tension between Hindus and Muslims, and hundreds of thousands are killed crossing borders.
Half-Muslim, half-Hindu twelve-year-old Nisha doesn't know where she belongs, or what her country is anymore. When Papa decides it's too dangerous to stay in what is now Pakistan, Nisha and her family become refugees and embark first by train but later on foot to reach her new home. The journey is long, difficult, and dangerous, and after losing her mother as a baby, Nisha can't imagine losing her homeland, too. But even if her country has been ripped apart, Nisha still believes in the possibility of putting herself back together.
Told through Nisha's letters to her mother, The Night Diary is a heartfelt story of one girl's search for home, for her own identity...and for a hopeful future.
About the Author
Veera Hiranandani earned her MFA in creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College. She is the author of The Whole Story of Half a Girl, which was named a Sydney Taylor Notable Book and a South Asian Book Award Finalist. A former book editor at Simon & Schuster, she now teaches creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College’s Writing Institute and Writopia Lab.