The Surveyor melds together the journeys of a father and daughter. Spanning decades, it is both an intimate portrait of family life as well as an exploration of more public histories.
“Intensely poetic, richly imagined, Ira Singh’s landscapes are dream-filled and haunting. Her language maps the heart.” Janice Pariat, Author of Boats on Land August 1947. Ravinder joins the Survey of India, about to devote his life to mapmaking, traversing unchartered territories, braving the elements. Alone in his tent he devours books by the light of a lamp. He militates against a tyrannical father and a faith he cannot be true to.
In 1958 he falls in love with Jennifer, an Anglo-Indian, the daughter of Grace Robbins – a woman who will never accept this marriage. But marry they do. They have two daughters, Anushka and Natasha.
Natasha is the chronicler of this family of outsiders, peering from the wings as her older sister takes centre stage. Hers is a journey from the small town to the city.
Natasha’s father passes on to her his fierce love of the written word and a curiosity about cartography. She traces, as he did, the histories of those relatively unknown surveyors who mapped the country, putting their lives at risk. She also, in the process, traces his life.
The Surveyor, wistful and elegiac, spans several decades and is about the search for identity; about solitude, longing and the price we pay for freedom.