As a teenager, one of the innumerable books that I read was The Diary of Anne Frank which made an indelible impression on my mind. Six decades later, to come across the Hindi translation of Hana’s Suitcase by Karen Levine, and reading it in one sitting, gave me goose pimples.
A battered suitcase with the name Hana Brady 625 gab 16/v 1931 Waisenkind (Orphan) engraved on it is loaned by the Auschwitz Museum to the Tokyo Holocaust Educational Centre set up by an anonymous donor. And thus begins the relentless search by Fumiko Ishiko, a young woman who heads the Centre, to trace the lost life and world of Hana. The child visitors to the Centre and the eight-to-eighteen year old members of Small Wings (an organization set up by a dozen Japanese youth in the belief that the future of world peace is in the hands of the young), fuel Fumiko’s passion to somehow re-create the short life of the little girl Hana.