My first book

 


The complimentary copies of my first book arrived just one day before I took a leap into the dark at the age of 41. It was the summer of 2001. I had quit my job at St Edmund’s College, Shillong and had packed my little belongings. A colleague from Edmund’s came in the evening with a packet that had been delivered at the college address. Four copies of English Poetry: From John Donne to Ted Hughes, my first book. I took it as a good omen though I was battling the most protracted depression of my life.

That book had a tragic history. I had done a lot of research before writing it. But all through those months of research I was treated by my colleagues like a mental retard with an ethereal ambition or something like that. Edmund’s was my hell. It scorched my very soul. Purification before you enter heaven. Delhi turned out to be my heaven.

Strange things happen in life. I have narrated all those strange things of my life in Autumn Shadows. I wrote many books after English Poetry. But nothing delights me today as much as that first book. I consulted hundreds of books by scholarly writers before writing this one. It was an experience that I would love to go through once more. But I don’t have access to so many scholarly books today. In those days, the library of the North-Eastern Hill University [NEHU] offered me all the wisdom I wanted. Except the most essential: practical wisdom.

I left Shillong just the day after the author’s complimentary copies reached me. For good. I guess no one leaves Shillong for bad. In one of the interviews I attended in Delhi [for an editor’s post at Vikas Publications], I was asked why I left such a beautiful place like Shillong and chose a hell like Delhi. The devil belongs to hell, I wanted to answer. I had not yet overcome my depression. “I did not belong there,” I said. That was the same thing in different words.

Vikas Publications appointed me with a salary slightly higher than I had asked. But I didn’t join them. I chose teaching instead with a much lower salary, the same job I was doing in Shillong, the only one I knew. I had no guts to try something new. Shillong had broken me entirely.

These are some thoughts and memories that flashed through my mind when I read Chinmayee’s blog post today. I wish Chinmayee all the best with her forthcoming book. And I think of writing my next book on literature once again, fiction this time. Some essays on a few contemporary novels. Maybe. I’m not a broken man now. I can afford to toy with options.

PS. This post is a part of Blogchatter Half Marathon

PPS. Paperback editions of Black Hole and Autumn Shadows are available exclusively at pothi.com

Comments

  1. Hari OM
    I am in awe of all who finally get their works out in book form, electronic or traditional, whilst my own all linger in drafts...

    I've recently begun Autumn Shadows - worried that I would have read the whole thing via the "foreword", I decided to skip that after several pages. No disrespect to the prof. Will now enter your own writing. YAM xx

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    1. The foreword is too long, many told me. In the paperback edition i cutvit short with the writer's permission.

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  2. The 1st book is like the 1st love?!

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    Replies
    1. Yes, I'd say so. In my case, I had spent a lot of time and energy on the first one. That matters too, I'd say.

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  3. Congratulations to you, for your decision to start a new work. Writing is tough, I can say that much from my experiences. And, may I know,who edits your work.

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    1. I'm my own editor. Most of the books are self-published. Except the 1st which was published by reputed Atlantic Publishers and they have their own reviewers who may suggest changes. It's always good to have a reviewer or editor but I couldn't find any.

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    2. Thank you. I asked that question as I struggle to sort out that edit/review part for my short story manudscript.

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  4. It is admirable how you managed to overcome your setbacks and turned them into creativity. The great experience!

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  5. Nice to know about your story.
    The amount of research you had done for your first book is interesting.
    Yes, many would say Shillong is calm and beautiful but it all depends on the situations we face in life.

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    1. That 1st book went a long way. It found a place in some reputed libraries even in London. My work was rewarded.

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  6. The memory of Autumn Shadows is still fresh. I could understand how you would have felt. Looking forward to your essays on contemporary novels.

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    1. Thank you. You are an outstanding reader who understands the soul of the writer. I'm happy to have your reviews.

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  7. Great to read, Congratulations :)
    Best wishes.

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  8. That's a meatier slice of your literary life Tomichan.
    One more thing... "devil belongs to hell" brought me chuckle and made me aware of your dry sense of humor as well.

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  9. First of all, I am more than humbled to have been mentioned :-) And Congratulations to you for the new work, may you never stop sharing your profound thoughts with us, which I personally adore. I wish you all the very best. And more than anything, thankyou for sharing your personal journey with all of us & about your first work in the literary field. It is surely special just like first love in one's life, I guess :-)

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    1. You have always been an enthusiastic supporter of my writings. Thank you.

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