Arc on the Horizon
Arc on the Horizon is a story of a man, who, in trying to trace the origins of his great grandmother, moves closer and closer not only to his roots in the land of his ancestors but ultimately his place in the universe. It is a narrative of love, not just of the heart but also of the soul. Furthermore it is a story of romance, not just between two persons who discover their connections in a previous life, but within the context of their former life-role in the history of a nation struggling to find itself in the modern world. In this attempt to connect and relate the narrative shifts through differing perspectives and corresponding epochs patching together themes of reincarnation, philosophy, lofty quilts of myths, legends symbols and imagery as it traverses the vestiges of India to find meaning in the life of two little known personalities as the architects in India's first struggle for independence.
We first meet the narrator as a yogi of sorts aboard an Air India jumbo jet heading for Bombay. Even though the tone is relaxed and casual we feel that things are not what they seem and soon there is a forced landing in Paris. In a brief sweep we get the background of the narrator: he comes from a humble sugar cane plantation in the Indo Caribbean and after studies at London he occupied an enviable position as a former diplomat in the higher echelons of the United Nations; we are also told that his great grandmother had an important role in the Indian Mutiny of 1857, and that she, rather than the Rebellious Queen, the Rani of Jhansi, was perhaps the real power behind the Jhansi throne -that princely enclave in the Bundelkhand which was a power to reckon with at the height of the Mogul hegemony. In many ways she practically stage-managed the Mutiny, which not only lasted for more than one full year, but in whose turmoil the concept of India, as a unified nation, was born.
As the plane lands the narrator meets his nemesis in the person of Rani Roy, a Belgian writer who is on her way to India to do research for a book she is writing on the Rani of Jhansi. They are told the plane is unable to fly and there is not another flight till the next day. Fate has them sharing a suite in a Parisian hotel which looks remarkably like something they experienced in Cusco, Peru. This is where intrigue takes us on a tour de force of the Peruvian Andes, the Sacred Valley of the Incas and the Peruvian Amazon, and where Rani manages to strip away his confidence as a yogi only to reveal his nakedness and vulnerability to the power of the flesh. But this is no ordinary flesh: the woman he comes in contact with is very much the vision of his childhood dreams, the person whom he knew as Agee, his great grandmother. Even when his hands fall on Rani's breasts, they are the breasts of his great grandmother, nursing him as her very own. He is caught in a web of conflicting emotions, which shatters his mind to the core of his very soul. Still, his yogic eye is resolute and gradually his nemesis is transformed into something far greater than anything he had ever imagined. There is little doubt about the former identity of Rani Roy, but could it be that he is the reincarnation of his great grandfather, the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Jhansi, and Rani´s emissary at the court of the Mogul Emperor at Delhi. Is it possible that he has met his wife of a former life, and if so would it be wise to reveal this knowledge to her?
This is the main conflict of the story, for it is the narrator's contention that there is a prime directive among yogis, never to divulge what they know unless the sadhak's "student", is ready and willing to receive such knowledge. Moreover, we are informed by the narrator that such knowledge about the nature of the soul, especially as it relates to former past lives, is better for the student to be guided and the knowledge attained within the framework of their own experience. And the narrator proves this