THE banquet hall of Hotel Park Plaza in Sector 17 on Tuesday afternoon could well have been mistaken for a ‘get-together’ of Army veterans. The camaraderie was unmistakable— where else would you be greeted with a cheerful ‘Born to Battle’ greeting instead of an insipid hello but in a fauji gathering. Discussions regarding One Rank One Pension (OROP) were not hushed as a handful of retired senior officers and a few serving mingled around. It was in many ways the perfect backdrop for the launch of Bhaavna Arora’s latest book, Mistress of Honour (Penguin Random House/Rs 199). The book, formally launched by Lt Gen H S Panag (retd) and Prof Surindra Lal of the Modi Educational Society, is inspired from real-life stories that Arora came across as an Army brat (her father is a retired Army Colonel) and during her travels.
A corporate trainer, and a doctorate from Pittsford University, US, Arora worked as a director of B-School till few years ago, but she says she really wanted to pursue a profession of her “passion”. “My first book, The Deliberate Sinner, was about relationships in an unhappy marriage and I didn’t want to stick to one style of writing. I like to write about multi-dimensional relationships,” said Arora at the launch.
The story of Mistress of Honour is set across a historical timeline spanning Operation Blue Star, insurgency in the Northeast, Indian peace-keeping forces in Sri Lanka and the battle of Kargil. Incidentally, the author admits to interviewing as many 160 officers, retired and serving, to put together her tale that also has romantic interludes. “My father was a part of Operation Blue Star and I have heard a first hand account. I always wanted to write a book on the Indian armed forces, especially one that talked of the sacrifices made not just by the soldiers but their families and loved ones,” remarked Arora.
Packing in quintessential novel elements such as love, tragedy, sacrifice and war situations, the author says she’s tried to keep military jargon out to make it an easy read. “It’s the story of mother-daughter duo Pansy and Rihana. While Pansy’s love story with Captain Potnis unfolds in the time of Operation Blue Star, Advik, an airforce pilot, and Rihana’s love blossoms during Kargil war,” explained Arora who spent nine months researching the history and plot.
The book, since it was first released on Kargil Diwas (July 26), is slowly climbing the popularity charts. Buoyed by the success, Arora has pledged her initial royalty from the book to fund the ongoing protests at Jantar Mantar for OROP. “I want to boost the confidence of those protesting for their legitimate rights. We can’t be treating our veterans this way as it will set a bad example for our present forces,” said Arora, who is already drafting her next book.