Writing always came easily to Dr Deepak Rosha, Senior Pulmonologist at Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, New Delhi, Apart from poetry, he scripted plays in school and has so far written about 50 research papers. “Immersing yourself in the world of written characters can be therapeutic, especially during stressful times like the pandemic,” he says.
The 65-year-old earlier published a book of poems titled So Much to Say, and has now released his debut historical mystery novel, Raja of Nowhere, published by Kalamos Literary Services. The idea of this novel struck him eight years ago when his mother told him the tale of a baby who was kidnapped from Lahore in the 1930s, and was found many years later as a grown-up in a well-to-do family.
“By the morning, I had thought out the whole book. Being a doctor, I couldn’t find time to write it. Last year, I took leave to immerse myself in the story, and finally completed the book,” he adds. Rosha’s family hails from Lahore – it is from a park in this city that baby Sudhir is abducted in the novel.
“My mother was born in Lahore, and did her initial schooling there. My father also studied in Government College Lahore. I have never been to Lahore, but I would like to. You know, the Lahories say: ‘If you haven’t seen Lahore you haven’t been born’.” The tale continues 70 years later, when Indu Bhalla, the last survivor of her family, is handed an irrefutable proof about her baby brother’s current identity. He is now Jagganath, ex Raja of Hazarapur, known as His Highness,
The Raja of Nowhere. Following the reunion with his biological family, the knowledge that he is not really the heir to his erstwhile kingdom puts Jagganath in a quandary. “The characters and their traits are from the patients I have met either as a doctor or from the Forces when I served in the Army Medical Corps,” Rosha reveals. Some of his old poetry also finds its way in the book.
“The stanzas took their true meaning when placed in the book. There is a part of the story where Jagganath meets a woman whom he immediately falls in love with. He writes: “We meet strangers today / You cannot recall / The final parting / The glow of your eyes / The lingering look / The last image / Of your half-parted lips / A memory to carry through / Many lives generations / To spark flare and burn now /As we meet once more.” Rosha shares that a large portion of the book is set in Delhi, the city being more of a backdrop with the focus set on the events and the characters.
As a Delhi-resident for the last 25 years, Rosha is appalled by the environmental degradation that began in the 60s. Four years ago, he conducted a study on 3,000 residents between 18 and 25, who were non-smokers, by performing their lung function testing. “It was shocking to see that 60 per cent of the subjects’ lung capacities were below normal.
This paper was presented in the Asia Pacific conference in Thailand. Now with Covid-19 as an added problem, the lungs of Delhiites are under even greater stress,” says this PG Wodehouse and Richmal Crompton fan. Two more novels have already been penned down and just awaiting publishing. “Saga of Spy X13 is about two boys in a strict boarding school that is situated close to the Indo-Pak border, during the 1965 wartime. The boys, motivated by a mysterious spy, unleash a number of pranks on the school that ultimately leads to a disaster. The Droplet and the Pearl is about a man who gets dreams from a past life, and in time his former and present identities begin to merge.”