The Lone Wolf, written by author Neha Dwivedi and published by Penguin Random House, intersects Col Ashok Tara's childhood and adolescence against the background of political tensions caused by linguistic hegemony in Pakistan. This eventually explodes into a full-fledged war that we now know as the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971 and that India specifically remembers as the Indo-Pak War. On the very day that the war ended, Col Tara was at the centre of a high-profile hostage crisis. He was tasked to negotiate the release of Pakistani Army hostages, who were none other than the family of Sheikh Hasina.
Col Ashok Tara led the high-profile rescue mission, as was his duty. Still, his tact and bravery are emblematic of India's own diplomatic role in the conflict between East and West Pakistan. Neha Dwivedi's book spotlights the side of war requiring strategy, a level of wit and composure that many rarely identify as military strength.
A childhood encounter formed the foundation for these skills. For Col Tara, The Lone Wolf is more than just a metaphor. At the young age of nine years old, Ashok Tara found himself face-to-face with a wolf while walking through a forest ridge along the Yamuna. Back then, the undergrowth was wilder, and for Ashok and his brother Kirti, the walk to and from school was an adventure. On that fateful day, Ashok was all by himself. With a wild wolf standing in his path, the young Ashok Tara remembered the words of his grandfather, a former shikari:
"When confronted by an opponent, even if it's a wild animal, stare at your opponent with a confident and stern expression. This show of courage will effectively deter them from launching an attack."
These words saved his life, not just on that day but twenty years later, as he stood unarmed in front of a group of hostile Pakistani soldiers.
"Having grown up in the forces and being the daughter of a martyr myself, I have always been aware of the many brave yet untold stories of the men in uniform and have felt a sense of responsibility about telling them when I can. Col. Tara was my friend's neighbour, and when he narrated the rescue incident, I was surprised and then disappointed that I had never heard of it. I knew then that this story needed to be written," said Neha when asked what inspired her to write The Lone Wolf.
"As a writer, I also have a responsibility to the reader, and so to turn the story into a book definitely took a fair amount of revisiting the flow, and running it parallelly with the narrative of the war - fit well."
During her research for the book, Neha came across some fascinating facts. According to Neha, her favourite fact was "the concert for Bangladesh by Ravi Shankar and George Harrison. It was fascinating to know so many people came together in a completely different country to support and help the victims of another country because of the concert. Such is the power of music, I guess."
Neha Dwivedi, a Kargil War martyr's daughter, is a doctor by profession and writer by passion. The Logical Indian recommends the author's book, The Lone Wolf as a must read. Get your own copy of The Lone Wolf from your nearest bookstore to read the inspiring and gripping story of Col Ashok Tara.