My heartfelt gratitude goes out to my cousin Radhika Jayakar Herzberger for setting me off on this journey, and for her continuous support over the years. After my mother passed away in 2002, Radhika urged me to preserve her letters, diaries, and papers. For the sake of my children, grandchildren, other family members, and those interested in Krishnamurti’s teachings, it was important that Nandini Mehta’s life be remembered in her own words. Since her passing, I have kept my mother’s letters by my bedside, and turned to them in times of joy and sadness.
Whenever Radhika visited Mumbai, we sat together for a few hours every day transcribing my mother’s letters and diaries. I would read aloud and Radhika would type. We would discuss things together, just as our mothers Nandini and Pupul had done 60 years earlier when they explored Krishnaji’s teachings. It was a magical time as we laughed, questioned, argued, and often wept together.
Though our work was nearly finished by early 2017, without a narrative account to hold it together it remained fragmented. What was the next step?
Should it remain typed and formatted in a seldom-opened drawer?
My daughter Aditi insisted that I connect the fragments in an account of Nandini’s life, my son Aditya urged me to at least give it a try. My three grandchildren Karma Vivan, Ayesha, and Amaya, and my niece Maithili encouraged me and held my hand whenever I felt discouraged by the magnitude of the task. I am grateful for their support. I would also like to thank my cousin Asit Chandmal for permission to use photographs of Krishnaji.
In December 2017, my daughter-in-law Mamta introduced me to Niloufer Venkatraman. I was fortunate that she agreed to work with me on this project. I am grateful for her sensitivity, patience, and perseverance in shepherding me through the process, and editing and rewriting this memoir. I struggled to begin, but eventually writing about my mother and her life became a source of deep joy. With Niloufer’s collaboration, this manuscript has become a coherent narrative that I am happy to share with my family and anyone else interested in the life of Nandini Mehta.
Devyani (Devi) Mangaldas