Thursday, October 25, 2012

I read 'Those Days' when i was in high school. It was a big book, some six hundred pages or so. I think it was the first book of that size that i laid my hands on. I wanted to see if i could hold onto a long story. Those days i could. I used to go around the house carrying a book, with a forefinger inserted to mark a page. Without having anything to worry about, i would read for more than ten hours or so on holidays. And we didn't have cable television then. Read while i was eating food, watching news bulletins and speaking to others. My mother used to tell me that i wouldn't notice a green chili on my plate as my attention was elsewhere.

I was young and immature to comprehend what i read then. Of 'Those Days', i remember one instance when the boy is shocked to see his childhood friend as a widow and praying in front of an idol of Krishna. And he sees the same friend later in Varanasi as a prostitute or a mistress. And of course, the aristocracy of Bengalis. I'm sure that if i would read the same now, it definitely will impact me more. I hardly remember anything of most of it.

Sunil Gangopadhyay was one of those people who made me like Indian literature, in the presence of a Tom Clancy or a Michael Crichton. They write well, keeping the reader engrossed in a fast, racy plot. But, when i observed that the name Lakshmi can be spelt in more than two ways; that these are the people, the mountains, the rivers and the stories that i could connect to and moved me, i had to stick to them.

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