Speak The Mag

Lavanya Shanbhogue Arvind

Lavanya Shanbhogue Arvind is a writer of fiction and an academic. She is the winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Special Prize (2011) and the author of The Heavens We Chase, a novel set in pre-partition British India published by Roli Books (New Delhi). She has Masters’ degrees in Business, Creative Writing as well as Women’s Studies. She is pursuing a Ph.D. at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai, India. She was awarded the Institute gold medal for academic performance (2015-2017) by TISS. She is currently an Assistant Professor at the Centre for Disasters and Development, Jamsetji Tata School of Disaster Studies, TISS, Mumbai. She teaches gender and other forms of social vulnerability.

Lavanya Shanbhogue Arvind

Art & Culture

The Heavens We Chase

In 1920, eleven-year-old Satya, resident of the temple-town of Shanishingnapur commits the ultimate act of treachery – theft. The houses in his town have no doors or windows because they believe that the malefic planet Shani who watches over their town will punish thieves. When Satya cycles away to Bombay, the deity strikes but undeterred he strives to chase down his heaven – money, privilege and his life’s ambition of a turf club for racing horses that will avenge his ouster from a ‘Europeans Only’ club. Twenty years later Satya has risen in ranks as the Educational Inspector of the Bombay Presidency. In line with the vision of Thomas Macaulay, he sets the curriculum – Pythagoras instead of Panini, Galileo instead of Aryabhatta, Aesop’s Fables instead of the Jataka Tales – to create more and more Brown Sahibs to serve the British Raj. It is in Lahore, where he is sent as an inspector of schools, that he meets Professor Ibrahim Hamid, who teaches his students the poetry of Baba Waris Shah and Kabir and represents a worldview of nationalistic movement that is working towards a free nation. This is also the story of Saraswathi, Satya's daughter, who much against his wishes is a singer of patriotic songs in support of the nationalist movement and falls in love with Professor Hamid while in Lahore with her father. Even as she struggles for her identity and purpose, she is chasing her own heaven – a place where she will find love, acceptance and respite from her father’s cruelty. Set in the colonial cities of Bombay and Lahore, the Heavens We Chase is the story of a dysfunctional family whose dreams contradict each other’s while being inescapably entangled.

The Heavens We Chase
Art & Culture

The Heavens We Chase

In 1920, eleven-year-old Satya, resident of the temple-town of Shanishingnapur commits the ultimate act of treachery – theft. The houses in his town have no doors or windows because they believe that the malefic planet Shani who watches over their town will punish thieves. When Satya cycles away to Bombay, the deity strikes but undeterred he strives to chase down his heaven – money, privilege and his life’s ambition of a turf club for racing horses that will avenge his ouster from a ‘Europeans Only’ club. Twenty years later Satya has risen in ranks as the Educational Inspector of the Bombay Presidency. In line with the vision of Thomas Macaulay, he sets the curriculum – Pythagoras instead of Panini, Galileo instead of Aryabhatta, Aesop’s Fables instead of the Jataka Tales – to create more and more Brown Sahibs to serve the British Raj. It is in Lahore, where he is sent as an inspector of schools, that he meets Professor Ibrahim Hamid, who teaches his students the poetry of Baba Waris Shah and Kabir and represents a worldview of nationalistic movement that is working towards a free nation. This is also the story of Saraswathi, Satya's daughter, who much against his wishes is a singer of patriotic songs in support of the nationalist movement and falls in love with Professor Hamid while in Lahore with her father. Even as she struggles for her identity and purpose, she is chasing her own heaven – a place where she will find love, acceptance and respite from her father’s cruelty. Set in the colonial cities of Bombay and Lahore, the Heavens We Chase is the story of a dysfunctional family whose dreams contradict each other’s while being inescapably entangled.