The Promised Hand (Vevishaal), an immensely popular Gujarati novel to this day, first appeared in weekly installments in the newspaper Phoolchhab and was published in book form in 1938.
Two small town merchant families pledge to marry their children Sukhlal and Sushila to each other when the two come of age. Before that happens, Sushila's family moves to 43 Mumbai and strikes it rich. Chaak Sheth, the 'patriarch' of the rich family wants to get out of the promised alliance at any cost. Without taking sides, Vevishaal tells the story of the ensuing struggle between a wealthy, ruthless man and his presumed meek adversaries. The showdown at the end of the narrative reveals all the principle characters at the heights of their build-up.
Vevishaal s presentation of a well developed and diverse set of characters is supplemented by vivid portrayals of the 1930s' lifestyles of Gujarat is in Mumbai and the small villages of Saurashtra.
Jhaverchand Meghani (1896-1947), a multi-faceted writer-poet- journalist, is the author of more than 90 books in Gujarati and was credited with elevating Gujarati folk-literature to the level of 'real' literature. Mahatma Gandhi acknowledged Meghani as a major factor in helping build the nationalistic fervour with his songs of patriotism.
Ashok Meghani the translator is the author youngest son was an engineer by professional until his early retirement in 1995. He lives in the U.S.A.
One Tuesday ten months ago, I started writing this story to serialize it in the weekly issues of Phoolchhaab. I did not have the entire story sketched out, not even in a skeletal form. The process of a story's creation works in two ways: some authors develop the skeleton of a whole story and then proceed to add the flesh and blood to give it the final form; and then there are many others like me who start out writing with nothing more than a powerful idea in their head-the characters and the plot taking shape as if on their own. When you think about it, this letter seemingly blind process of story-writing is not something that happens quite by chance as it may appear. Invariably, it is the experiences and thinking of a lifetime that help provide the form and the substance of a story; the raw but refined cotton is all there, ready to be spun out.
On the other hand, it will be wrong for me to say that I had struck out and trekked through this story totally blind. The readership of Phoolchhaab took an active part in its development. The letters started arriving soon after the first installment appeared and continued to come as the story progressed. From near and far, from villages and cities, the college-educated and commoners, man and women alike, wrote to me and suggested the direction the story should follow. Publication of those letters here could shed new light on the art of creative story writing. It is regrettable that the predetermined price of Vevishaal cannot bear the cost of those additional pages. All I will say is, lucky is the writer who receives such affectionate support for his creation from so many.
Did I succeed in telling everything I wanted to tell in Vevishaal? I don't know. What I do know is my firm belief that the author should include what he wants to in his story; he has no right to use the preface to try and make up for his failure to do a complete job of his story. His first-and the last-duty is to tell the story, a good story and only the story. If I make a claim about Vevishaal, it is to have told a story and only the story.
One admission I must make: I have not been happy with the remake of Vijaychandra's character in the later chapters. My attempts to undo the damage have been totally unsuccessful; I have failed to erase what was written.
... I gratefully acknowledge all the people that have taken such interest in the writing of this story. The thought that I may have been unable to do justice to their imaginative ideas makes me shudder. Among them there are many that consider this story to be incomplete without the climax of a wedding. I want to tell them that to include the elements of a wedding and its aftermath a happily married life complete with children - is forbidden by the rules of the creative world. The story about a Vevishaal (betrothal) must stay within the bounds implied in that title.
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