Hi, Everyone! Right after I got the review, I sent out an email to all my contacts (some of whom I do not even know). In general I got a very good response, but one really stood out.
I got an email from Mr. Vishnu Pandya saying he would like to review my book in his column and prestigious magazines in India. I was most excited, even though at the time I didn’t know who he was. I hadn’t expected to get any such request at all. I sent out my book in a couple of days.
Very soon I discovered that Vishnuji was a prominent personality in Gujarat and an author of 92—yes, 92 . . .!—books. All of his books are either on revolutionaries, interesting people he came across, or political analysis, not light topics in other words. He has written in all forms too—novel, biography, drama, poetry, journalism, everything, really. Most impressive!
Even so, when he referred to Gandhi as a “saint” in our communication I couldn’t let it go without a protest. There is something about Gandhi being referred as a “saint” that gets my dander up instantly.
Feeling every bit conscious of the inappropriateness of contradicting someone senior to me in so many ways, I nevertheless wrote to him that calling Gandhi a “saint” was unacceptable to me for Gandhi’s politics were dirty and he was ever so far from being saintly (in so many ways!) I also gave some examples. I felt so sure he would find it offensive.
But I was entirely wrong! Far, far from getting offended, he actually lauded me for my research and frank speech . . . ! I could hardly believe it. And then he went on to ask if I would like to submit a “hard-hitting” article on Gandhi to be published in his book Gandhi, Sardar, ane Subhash which he had just that morning submitted to be printed. The book is in Gujarati, but he said he would get it translated there.
Really, I had to read that twice before it registered. You could have knocked me down with a feather. Unfortunately, I had no article on Gandhi ready to be submitted, and I had to write and tell him that.
What an honor that was, especially for a one-and-a-half-month old, one-book, unknown author like me! I was sitting there regretting my missed opportunity. And then it occurred to me: why should I not write one now?
I dislike writing articles. Writing or even researching on Gandhi is nothing short of torture. When I read the first research book on Gandhi (Keer’s), I put it on my kitchen table and circled around it for three days before I gathered the strength to read the first page. That should tell you what an ordeal I find it. But that didn’t even come in my mind now.
I was practically tripping over my feet in my rush to find a way into Vishnuji’s book. I quickly asked him for a couple of days’ time to write the article. He gave it willingly. Then somewhat hesitantly I said, “How many pages . . . ?” It is my experience that one has to curtail one’s creativity into so many words, a mighty difficult job. “Write as many pages as you like,” he said.
It certainly was a moment to fall down on my knees and thank God! I even pinched myself to see if I was perhaps dreaming it all.
But then I had to get down to brass tacks. I decided to write a low-key article without expressing my opinion but letting the documentation speak for me. I surrounded myself by books with Gandhi documentation, ignored the sick feeling in my stomach that thoughts of Gandhi always bring and wrote furiously. It took me three days.
When I handed it to Vishnuji, he liked it so much he kept it in the original form, no translation into Gujarati! The book will even be released by the end of September and the targeted audience is the intellectuals of Gujarat.
Now, how many authors do you think get an opportunity like this? Most certainly connecting with Vishnuji is the latest Divine Intervention in my life, no doubt about it!
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