Here’s how a women-led Indian jewellery company is making a global impact
Paksha, a jewellery brand based in Kolkata, was founded in 2021. With an in-house team of master craftsmen, artisans, and high-tech facilities, it has the unique advantage of overseeing all aspects of the product journey. Tarinika owner and the driving force behind its new venture, Paksha. Her grandfather moved to Hyderabad, India’s ‘City of Pearls,’ in the 1970s, and established a business as a pearl merchant and artisan, which has lasted for decades. Bharati ‘Asha’ Sahay Choudhry kept a diary for more than 75 years, recording her daily activities. She wasn’t just any ordinary 17-year-old; she was a young woman living in extraordinary times. Anand Mohan and Sati Sen Sahay, her parents, were freedom fighters who were close to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and the Indian National Army (INA).
Born in Kobe, Japan, in 1928, Asha-san (as Bharati was known in Japan) began writing about her experiences as a child, vividly recreating scenes such as falling bombs, being holed up in trenches, a father and uncle away at war, Netaji’s effervescent personality, and joining the Rani Jhansi Regiment at the age of 17.
Asha-san attended Tokyo’s prestigious Showa Koja College (now Showa Women’s University) for higher studies after completing her primary and secondary education in Kobe.
Life in a war zone Hers was an uncertain life. World War II had begun. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose arrived in Tokyo from Germany in 1943, establishing the Azad Hind Government and the Indian National Army throughout East Asia. Asha-san, like her father and uncle Satya Sahay, enlisted in the Indian National Army and rose to the rank of Lieutenant in the Rani Jhansi Regiment.
When Asha-san returned to India in 1946, she translated the Japanese version of the diary into Hindi with the help of her parents and a Hindi professor, and the series was published in the Hindi magazine Dharmayug. It was also published as a book, Asha-san Ki Subhas Diary, but typographical errors crept into the translation, causing some amusement. Tanvi Srivastava, her granddaughter-in-law, has now translated her grandmother’s diaries into an English book, The War Diary of Asha-San (HarperCollins), in order to reach a wider audience. The book focuses on the bravery of a young girl who is willing to give her life for India’s freedom.
From Japanese to Hindi and finally to English Tanvi came across the Hindi version of the diary on the bookshelf while cooped up at home with two young children and her safari company out of business during the pandemic. She hadn’t read it up until that point. “I’d been writing fiction in English for ten years and had a few short stories published.” “I thought it would be a good exercise to try my hand at translating the diary when I started reading it,” she says.
Around the same time, she applied to the British Council’s Write Beyond Borders writing mentorship program, which included writers from South Asia as well as South Asians from the UK. During the program, she read an article by author Jhumpa Lahiri in which she stated, “If you want to write fiction, try translation, it’s a great way of learning the craft, getting inside a language, treat it like a literary apprenticeship.”
Tanvi obviously knew about Dadi’s life and diaries, and once she started reading the Hindi version, she fell in love with it, locking herself in a room, working late into the night, and beginning to translate. During her mentorship sessions, she would bring it up. They encouraged her to finish it, and her Bangladeshi mentor, Saad Z Hossain, sent it to an Indian literary agent, who accepted it. “I had no idea the story would be so captivating. Tanvi says, “The coming of age portion and hearing the voice of a young girl resonated with me.” Tanvi frequently checked dates, events, chronology, and other information with Asha-san, who gave her full permission to edit the Hindi version of the diaries.