She is without doubt the most gifted and enigmatic of all the girls I have known. But obviously I cannot marry. What will become of my freedom?
Mircea is twenty-three, I am sixteen. But both of us are a bit too serious for our age.
In 1930, while living in Surendranath Dasgupta’s house in Calcutta, Mircea Eliade fell in love with his daughter, Maitreyi Devi. Subsequently he wrote the thinly disguised roman á clef, Maitreyi/La Nuit Bengali. In 1974, Maitreyi Devi wrote her account of his time in her father’s house in Na Hanyate, also a roman á clef. Both books did not appear in English translation until 1994. Subsequent analysis of the book has been largely of the he said/she said, East/West sort but I won’t go into it here, though I might point you to this review.
La Nuit Bengali/Bengali Nights was made into an English movie of the same name, which was promptly banned in India.
Na Hanyate found its way into Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam though it is uncredited.
There aren’t very many photographs of the two from the 30s but in the few Mircea Eliade appears in Indian dress. Maitreyi is usually in a simple sari (she was greatly influenced by Rabindranath Tagore) and in one she seems to be in a sleeveless blouse much like the fashions of the 20s/30s.