Over the past couple of years, I've been highlighting an interesting, lesser-known woman on this particular day. Why? Mostly for the same reason that we mark this particular day: to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievement of women. The 2017 theme for IWD is #BeBoldForChange. So, this year, I'd like to share the story of Noor Inayat Khan -- a bold, badass woman I read about last year. She was also featured on Public Radio International earlier this year as the "Indian spy princess who died fighting the Nazis." She was a Muslim. A refugee. A princess. A guerrilla fighter, trained in bomb-making, sabotage and secret communications. But above all, she was a war hero.
First published in 1990, this biography is a rather delicious collection of interwoven anecdotes that take us into the mind and life of a Nobel Prize-winning Indian-American scientist, Chandra (as he was known), spanning decades across India, England and the US. Those who know anything of this unassuming, quiet, professorial man consider it most remarkable is that he did not win his Nobel till 50+ years after having made his stellar discoveries and practically at the end of his long teaching career. And, in 1999, NASA named their premier X-ray observatory after him.
All three characters get near-equal screen time and show enough depth and complexity that it would be fair to say that this story is not just about the artist. It is about the artist, his son and their muse. Yet, the story isn’t so much a drama or even a narrative. Rather, it is a collection of small, but momentous, incidents in the lives of these three people who survive in the eye of the raging storm that is World War I.