Tributes to Ved Mehta

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Noted author Ved Mehta passed away at the age of 86 on January 9, Saturday in New York. Born in 1934 in Lahore, he lost his vision at the age of four due to cerebrospinal meningitis and was soon sent to study in a school for the blind in Bombay, followed by another one in Arkansas, US. In an interview with The New York Times, he said that his father — Amolak Ram Mehta– however, refused to believe that the loss was permanent. Later, Mehta studied at Pomona College and Oxford University, and over the course of his lifetime, wrote several books, most notable among them, being his personal essays.

In the same interview, Mehta admitted writing is partially a result of loneliness. “Partly I write because of blindness, because of the heightened sense of loneliness that many intelligent blind people feel.”

Commenting on his style, Mehta disclosed, “When I started to write, I wanted to see how I could exploit my other senses. I reached the point where I wanted to experiment. To really plumb the depths of the experiment, wanted to explore my own life. I think of autobiographical writing as a letter to myself.”

His first book Face to Face published in 1957.  His other works include: Fly and the Fly-Bottle: Encounters with British Intellectuals, Daddyji, A Family Affair: India Under Three Prime Ministers, A Ved Mehta Reader: The Craft of the Essay among others.

An immigrant, rootlessness was his idea of home. In an interview with Los Angeles Times he had said, “In order to feel dislocated, you have to belong somewhere. I feel I really don’t belong anywhere. I really belong to the 20th-Century population of displaced persons, refugees.”

The author of 27 books, including the twelve-volume autobiographical series Continents of Exile, a MacArthur Prize fellow, and member of the British Royal Society of Literature, Mehta also taught writing at numerous colleges and universities.

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