Form and Content
Ved Mehta was born in India of upper-class parents—his father being a fairly prosperous government official in the health department. Ved became totally blind as a result of illness at the age of three. At first he lived at home with his parents, four sisters, and two brothers. Later, his father sent him to school in Bombay before sending him to the Arkansas School for the Blind. This book is an account of his experience at this high school from August, 1949, until his graduation in May, 1952, and departure for college in California. Throughout his sojourn in the United States, Mehta wrote letters home on a typewriter and kept a journal. Thirty-five years later, these letters and his journal became the basis for a series of articles which first appeared in The New Yorker. They were then published in book form in 1985.
The book forms part of an ongoing autobiography. Vedi (1982) and The Ledge Between the Streams (1984) cover his childhood; two earlier volumes, Daddyji (1972) and Mamaji (1979), center on his father and mother. Face to Face (1957) was the forerunner of Mehta’s autobiographies, covering his life through his college days and introducing many of the themes developed in the later works that focus on particular periods in his life.
Sound-Shadows of the New World follows Mehta through his experiences in high school and offers a glimpse into his thoughts, his hopes, his victories, and his defeats. The book contains 430 pages and is divided into eleven chapters. The first chapter deals with the difficulty of getting Mehta accepted into school, his final acceptance by the Arkansas School for the Blind, his journey to the United States, and his first days in New York and Little Rock. The last chapter deals with his final months in school, his problems in getting accepted into the university, and his graduation. Between these two chapters the book offers a narrative of Mehta’s daily life interspersed with letters and entries from his journal.