I'm very excited to announce that my graphic novel titled "People of the Indus" has been accepted for publication by Penguin Random House India and is going to come out in May 2022!
This is my first full-length graphic novel and it has been quite a journey. It took me more than 4 years to finish. There were several times when I felt that I had bitten more than I could chew. The project was just too big. There were nights and days of dread, doubt and despair when I felt that I would never complete it, and that even if I did nobody would want to read it. Getting through those times was the hardest part of the journey. Often I was ready to give up. But I'm glad I didn't.
It started off after a visit - on a whim - to Lothal, Gujarat, one of the well-known Indus Valley sites. At that time I didn’t know anything about the civilisation. I knew vaguely that it flourished around the same time when the Pyramids were being built in Egypt. I went to Lothal expecting something as spectacular. But I was sorely disappointed.
The site was a ruin. The houses and structures were all gone with only the brick foundations left. There was nothing to see. What's more, the site wasn't even that large. Wasn't this supposed to be a city? It seemed no bigger than a village. I mentioned this to the caretaker of the site, who was by then sitting in the shade of a tree. He mentioned that only a small portion of the site had been excavated, the rest was still buried in the ground. He then pointed in a particular direction and asked me if I had seen the “dockyard” over there. I hadn’t.
It wasn't until I walked through some bushes and the so-called "dockyard" (shown above) opened up before me that I realised there was a lot more to this place than met the eye.
After leaving Lothal that day, I started to read more. And the more I read about this civilisation the more I was fascinated by it. It is true that visually it is nowhere as stunning as the Egyptian sites of the same time period, but the kinds of things the people of the Indus were doing really made it stand apart from the other civilisations of the time. I discovered that this was a civilisation with no kings and no warfare. It was a decentralised society, with traders and craftsmen being the most powerful. And what’s more these people were seafarers. They built large ships and routinely traveled all the way to Mesopotamia to trade. This was in complete contrast to the other civilisations of that time.
I spent a year doing research and then began to write the graphic novel. When I was done with the first manuscript I sent it to Dr. Jonathan Mark Kenoyer, a senior archaeologist and professor at University of Wisconsin, whose academic work I had used extensively in writing my book. He was gracious enough to read the manuscript but pointed out that there were several misinterpretations of the academic literature. We then decided to collaborate and he became my co-author. Another few months of revisions and corrections, and we finally submitted the manuscript to Penguin who offered to publish the book.
The People of the Indus not only depicts the ruins and artefacts as they are today, but also recreations of the people, costumes, architecture and city life as it may have been back in the day. There are very few recreations of Indus life of the past, and nothing as extensive as what this graphic novel has attempted. This is what makes the book really unique.
I have written the book in a way that it will appeal to a lay audience. You don’t need to be a history buff to read it. Anybody interested in the topic - young and old - will be able to enjoy it. I will be posting updates here as we get closer to the publishing date. Stay tuned!