A historical fiction novel set during the 1800s in North America, Europe and India.
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Historical Fiction Writer
Waheed Rabbani's first novel, Doctor Margaret’s Sea-chest is Book I of a trilogy of historical fiction, set during India’s struggle for freedom from the British Raj.
In 1965, a century old sea chest is discovered in a hospital in Delhi. An American doctor, Sharif, is entrusted with the task of locating and returning the trunk to the owner’s relatives. Sharif tracks down Doctor Margaret’s descendants in Canada. Her diaries and other artefacts are found in the coffer.
Margaret, born in New Jersey, becomes, in 1850, one of the first American women doctors. She travels with her husband to serve in the Crimean war. There they face hardships of battles, and also endure other conflicts.
From events leading to and after the infamous Charge of the Light Brigade, Margaret meets a Russian officer. The surprise ending of Book I leaves Margaret in a quandary, on whether to seek vengeance or continue on her journey to India.
The full moon hung like a lantern, as if held by an invisible force, in a cloudless sky. We galloped on a treeless plateau that sloped down to the glittering waters of a wide river. From the numerous smouldering pyres, visible along the ghats*, I believed it to be the mighty Ganges. The river flowed endlessly, until it seemed to drain into the star studded heaven to deposit the ashes of the departed. Although I had gazed at the flickering stars countless times before, there seemed to be something strange about them that night. Was it the weird pattern they had formed themselves in, or their unusual brightness? I could not resolve just then. In the hot night-air, sweat poured down my face and body, drenching my light cotton tunic and riding breeches.
The rider ahead of me, clad simply in a white wrap, charged with speed, waving frantically at me to keep up, as I fell behind. Was it not for the simple fact that the rider rode side-saddle and had long blonde hair that shone in the moonlight, I would have taken her for a man. Her horsemanship was flawless; in the bright moon-glow, her mount jumped over dry gullies and manoeuvred around large boulders without breaking stride.