On the day I met my father’s family for the first time, a strange coincidence occurred on a train. It was October 2006, a year after the great earthquake in Kashmir. I was travelling south from that troubled region, when a young man burst into my cabin.

He wore flared jeans and a faded denim jacket. His long, well-brushed hair was tied back and there was something of the Frontier in his dark sunburned features. He gave me no explanation for barging in. He simply dropped into the facing seat, loosened the coloured bands of his ponytail, and began talking.

Ida: Noon. Why Noon, Aatish?

Aatish: To my mind that hour–especially on the subcontinent–has a kind of menace about it. It is an hour of glare and stillness, of short shadows. And that apparent placidity that contains, in fact, an underlying violence is the mood of Noon; it is there right in the beginning when we encounter the false tranquility of the lake, formed over a terrible scene of devastation.

On a lighter note, noon—a meridian hour, remember!—is both literally and otherwise as far away from Nehru’s “freedom at midnight’” as it’s possible to be. And that for a book about the legacy of Partition is no bad thing.