New Delhi: As India celebrates 75 years of Independence, a new autobiography by an Indian who grew up in Japan during World War II and later joined the Indian National Army brings forward a unique perspective on the war as well as the Indian freedom struggle.
In roughly 250 pages, ‘Asha’ Sahay Choudhry takes her readers through a journey across war-torn Tokyo to the jungles of Thailand, from learning how to hold a rifle to discovering her passion for Indian liberation.
Published by HarperCollins, ‘The War Diary of Asha-San: from Tokyo to Netaji’s Indian National Army’ – written by Lt Bharati ‘Asha’ Sahay Choudhry and translated by Tanvi Srivastava – will be released on 8 November on Softcover, ThePrint’s online venue to launch non-fiction books.
Through her book, the author showcased her captivating story as the eldest daughter of Indian expatriate freedom fighters living in Japan who joined the Rani of Jhansi Regiment of the Indian National Army in June 1943, after meeting Subhas Chandra Bose. Written between 1943 and 1947, ‘The War Diary of Asha-San’ is the courge-filled historical account of a young girl forced to grow up quickly in the midst of war.
Born in Japan’s Kobe in 1928, Choudhry joined the Indian National Army at the age of 17. Her father, Anand Mohan Sahay, was a political adviser to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. Today, Asha is 94 years old and lives in Patna with her son. “While this book is a personal story, encapsulated within it is the history of our struggle for freedom. I hope that the love for India will propel our youth to make it a ‘sone ki chiriya’ (golden bird) once again. I hope The War Diary of Asha-san is read by every young Indian, especially our girls”, said Choudhry, while discussing the significance of the book.
This is the first time the book has been translated into English. Translator Tanvi Srivastava called it a ‘privilege’ to research on the Indian National Army and learn about the author.
“It was a privilege to research the Indian National Army and to learn about young men and women like Asha-san who sacrificed everything for Netaji’s idea of independent India—an inclusive, pluralistic India”, Srivastava said.
Anita Bose Pfaff, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s daughter praised Choudhry’s ‘indomitable spirit’ calling her ‘a true Rani of Jhansi in her ripe age’.
Sugata Bose, the author of ‘His Majesty’s Opponent: Subhas Chandra Bose and India’s Struggle Against Empire’ said, “Bharati ‘Asha’ Sahay’s war diary is a deeply moving first-hand account of the patriotic fervour of the Azad Hind movement led by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose as seen through the eyes of an idealistic teenager as she travelled from Japan via Taiwan to Thailand to join the Rani of Jhansi Regiment. This evocative translation of a diary originally written in Japanese will be an inspiration for the younger generation of Indians on the 75th anniversary of independence.”