ved mehta

‘ I didn’t want to be a blind writer. I wanted to be a writer who is blind’

‘ Now we are living in an age everything has to be fast. We are living in an odd world where the written word is at a discount. To me, a book is a long journey. I don’t like short cuts. Literature can only survive with individual taste. It cannot be mass opinion’ .

( -birthday – 21- march- ved- mehta)

There are many writers in English from the sub- continent who mad a mark on the world literary stage. One of them was Ved Mehta, who, despite all odds, has contributed a lot to English literature. He wrote about 24 books. Several of them deal with the subject of blindness. He wrote many articles for New Yorker.

His Life

Ved Parkash Mehta ( born March 21, 1934) lost his eye sight at the age of four to cerebrospinal Meningitis ( wikipedia). Due to limited prospects to blind people, he was sent to Dadar School for the Blind in Bombay ( now Mumbai) from his place of birth Lahore ( Pakistan). He was educated at Pomona college , Oxford in modern History and Harvard college,USA where he earned double BA and an MA. As few books in Braille were available, a student reader Eugene Rose used to read out to him. He mentioned about the reader in his works with admiration. Ved Mehta in his second bok of Memoirs ‘ Stolen Light’ mentions that the reader read with clarity that Mehta had the illusion that he was explaining things. He lived in the western world since 1949 and became an American citizen in 1975. His first bok ‘ Face to Face ‘ was published in 1957 which deals with his early life and politics in India. He was a staff writer at ‘ The New Yorker’ from 1961 to 1994. He was elected a Fellow of ‘Royal Society of Literature in 2009. He attended ‘Jaipur Literary Festival ‘ in 2014. Among his books include  Walking the Indian Streets(1960) a travel journal

Fly and the Fly Bottle: Encounters with Brutish intellectuals ( contemporary philosophy and historiography: Boston : Little Brown 1962
Delinquent Chacha ( a novel: New York: Harper and Row 1966)
Daddyji ( biography 1972)
Mahatma Gandhi and his Apostles ( portrait of Gandhi1977)
The New India ( study of modernisation 1978)
All For Love (2092) , etc
He was awarded MacArthur Fellow(1982)

His writings

He has been a prolific writer on various issues. His forte is the personal essay, but the personal essay of ideas,and nearly all the essays in The Ved Mehta Reader record his experiences with some of the more complex philosophical and political issues of modern life. (A ved Mehta Reader ( critical survey of contemporary Fiction) He has lived in different cultures and therefore, brings all his experience into his works.

A unique writer

The uniqueness not only reflected in his autobiographical writings but also in the images he conveyed through fictional figure and situations. Though he was born in a relatively well- to- do family and his father being a doctor, he was exposed to the poverty stricken India early in life while he was studying in Bombay. He has written his experiences with society and the stigma of blindness that resulted in many humiliating experiences. He is concerned about those poor blind people who could not afford special education which he was lucky to have due to his parents affordability.

Ved Mehta’s writings discuss not only obstacles to visually impaired and the ways of overcoming them but also various social, political and literary issues.

Sheshu Babu is a writer from anywhere and everywhere

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  1. Sally Dugman says:

    When Borges, another writer, went blind he didn’t think of himself as handicapped. He merely thought of it as a changed condition, he said. … It is all about the way that one defines himself or herself and the world.