In love and war
VOGUE India|February 2021
Can epic love stories stand the test of time? Do they even exist? Meet Raj and Norah, an Indian major and a British nurse, who were worlds apart until she rescued him in Naples and they found love in the midst of one of the darkest times in human history. Teir granddaughter, Shaina Kohli Russo, tells their story
Shaina Kohli Russo

One of history’s cruellest and darkest periods, World War II, birthed a love that transcended faith and country. My grandparents taught me that true love cannot be dictated by religion or culture. Or by boundaries or barriers, whether internal or external. But most importantly, nothing can stop destined souls from finding one another.

I grew up in the US and my grandparents lived in India, so, unfortunately, I didn’t know them well. What I did know of them stemmed from the stories my father would share. My eyes would be left wide and my mind filled with wonder; it seemed unreal, the sort of story destined for a book or a movie. So, after years of talking about it, we decided to share their story. As my father Peter R Kohli and I wrote Raj & Norah (HarperCollins India) I was reminded of my grandparents’ awe-inspiring love.

HARD TIMES

My grandfather, Rajendra Shamsher Singh Kohli, a Sikh, was born in 1919 in Benares. His father, a respectable Punjabi man, only wanted the best for him. And in his mind, the only way to achieve that was to send his son to university in England. So off went Raj to study at Cambridge University.

“MY GRANDPARENTS TAUGHT ME THAT TRUE LOVE CANNOT BE DICTATED BY RELIGION OR CULTURE”

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