Many good things have been happening, but my Internet connection hasn’t been strong enough to keep up with them. Firstly… well, I’m not yet allowed to talk about the ‘firstly’. (I’ll post about it and put a link here as soon as I am.)
So, secondly. PodCastle put up my story on the third day of February, narrated by Elizabeth Green Musselman, who was excellent with this multilingual universe I loved the way the story sounded. (All those horrors abated.) And everyone at PodCastle – and especially editor Dave Thompson, who bought the story in January – was very nice and very positive about the story. And now I’m diligently following the story’s discussion thread on the Escape Artists forum, where other people are saying other (largely) nice and accurate things about it.
I have been building and obsessing about the Johuree universe for so long (I started writing the first story in 2009 back in UG3; never finished it) that I keep needing to remind myself that this is the first Johuree story that has actually seen the light of day. If anyone wonders what the inside of my head looks like (though I cannot imagine why anyone would), do go and listen to the story!
There was another publication, equally happy-making. On the second day of February Kindle published its latest poetry edition, and my very old poem ‘Hip-Bone Butterfly‘ finally came out in it. The poem is from 2011, but it is one of the last poems I’ve written (I hardly write poems any more), and it had won the first prize at the Poetry with Prakriti festival the winter when I was interning with Blaft in Chennai. I had this blog even then but I hadn’t mentioned it on the blog – although it was the first time I received a reasonably important prize for my writing, and I was super kicked – because back in college I was too cool for all that.
And now I’m too old to be cool, but I cannot for my life imagine that to be a bad thing. :)
I am about to begin the first day of what may be my last year of college, the last year of being a student, just one more decisive little push away from childhood. Just now I had to take out this book and scan the cover, because there isn’t a good copy of it online, there isn’t even a Wikipedia page; and I had been very particular about wanting to post this cover because this is the image I will always associate with this novel, and the summer vacations at school spent reading about and imagining the Dehra Dun of Ruskin Bond’s stories.
So reading The Room on the Roof was a watershed of adolescence, as Bond perhaps intended it to be. I’d started reading Bond in instalments that came out in TeleKids, back when the children’s supplement of The Telegraph used to be published on Thursdays. Those were the, um… ‘safer’ stories. Growing up, I was entirely unacquainted with books that could be categorized as straightforward romances — sweet and simple boy-meets-girl stories — because my puritanical parents put a blanket ban on anything that promoted ‘that kind of thing’. I never read a Mills-and-Boon at an age when I might’ve enjoyed them. Never watched a Bollywood film at the theatre till I was old enough to watch them with friends. The ideal level of maturity for being excited about Love Story and Gone with the Wind passed me uneventfully by. But my parents didn’t actually look into the content of a book beyond the cover and the blurb, so I ended up reading a lot of potentially risque literature like The Godfather and The Diary of a Young Girl before I even entered high school. The Room on the Roof was the first of that long list. I remember reading the novel over and over again, trying to come to terms with it, trying to decide if I liked it or hated it, trying to decide if I should like or hate it, wanting to discuss it with someone and never finding the ideal person. (Kids at the school I went to really did not read.) I haven’t returned to this book in more than ten years, but of late I am repeatedly reminded of how great an impression it has left on my mind. I can’t even recall the entire story to details but it keeps resurfacing, it’s like a latent obsession that had never quite gone away. I guess that’s a sign of a book being more than a just a story. More of a memory and an experience.
Long books are the bane of my life. The size of a book can instanty wither my most sincere intention to read it. All through my training in literature I have carefully sidestepped triple-decker Victorian behemoths, maintained a respectful distance from the likes of Joyce and Dostoevsky, with the result that the longest single-volume books I’ve read (page-wise) are all anthologies, poetry or short story collections, complete or selected works of certain authors and things like that. On the other hand I could write about several serieses, if you’re asking for the longest narratives occurring in the same universe and (usually) written by the same author. It’s the longest single work of fiction or non-fiction that puts me in trouble. Therefore, although this will not feature in any longest-books list in the world, I must mention The Godfather.
Once again, this selection is partially because this is a book I really want to write about. A book that I read nearly ten years ago, in middle school and much before watching the films, back when it had felt too shocking and irresistible to lose interest in before finishing. I wouldn’t have remembered it was so long ago if the book hadn’t come up in a conversation with R sometime back, for I had (rather indiscreetly) proceeded to impose it upon her at the tender age of eleven or twelve. I followed up The Godfather with Omerta which came in the same volume. I haven’t read The Sicilian, nor any of the non-Puzo sequels. I don’t think I’ve ever gone back to the novel either, not when I watched the films, not when I was heavily reminded of it while reading Men of Tomorrow in the first year of college. Maybe if I read it again I’ll find it less impressive. Maybe I will read it one of these days. But then I am perfectly content with the way it is right now inside my head.
It should be Day 7 but I’m skipping the entry because I can’t think of a very remarkable instance of A Song That Reminds You of a Certain Event. Some other day, then, while I put up the next entry.
Unfortunately, yet another song without a video. This is not the most well-known version of the song, but it is the one I memorized the lyrics from.
This is also the version I remember singing aloud with a bunch of people at G-Point, that terribly dirty and not-so-terribly secret hideout in campus that we never frequented after first year. I went to look at it again last summer and found the place turned entirely into a garbage dump. The friend who came along with me had not spent her UG1 there and could never have guessed the magic that has left that bit of desolate ruin.