At the beginning of You Have Given Me a Country, author Neela Vaswani writes, “What follows is real, and imagined.” Thus begins Vaswani's memoir, a dreamy collection of reflections on her family's multiracial, multinational history.
Ashok Vaswani, Neela's father, was born in Sindh (now a province of Pakistan) before the cataclysm of Partition. As a toddler, Ashok fled with his family to the new state of India, where his father found a job as a traveling railroad physician. Later, Ashok traveled to the US to practice medicine and to leave behind a tense postwar economy and a family that had fractured under the pressure of exile. “To my father, nationality was fickle, unreliable,” writes Neela. “My father said, 'Homeland is in the body,' and 'Land is in the blood.'”