They Came to Praise My Books.
It happened with me, exactly four years ago, and to find it happening with me once again drives me superstitious.
The event I’m reminded of had to do with the publication of my book of poetry, “In Harness”. At that time I had with me a bagful of poems and I did not know what to do about them. There was no publisher willing and it was a tall order to think of publishing my first book all alone, with no experience on my side.
It was at that juncture that I came across the gentle man, Mr X. He was a person of wide-ranging interests. Himself a published poet in Sanskrit, he knew what it takes to bring out a book. He was only too willing to share that.
The day when we met, it was a query from his side.
‘Sir, I heard you also write poems,’ Mr X was abrupt in his introduction of a topic, but he was confident that a question like this, if addressed to a poor unpublished author, would not ordinarily evoke anything wrong as a response.
‘Yes, I do, but I don’t know what to do with the poems,’ I had responded, rather lugubriously.
Thereafter everything happened as was destined to. Mr X disclosed that he had access to great publishers(If there are any in this part of the world!) and I believed it. He assured that I should not worry too much about it, as my poems are excellent and heart-rending ones! And finally before he left me, he assured that my book would be in the market in a month’s time.
A month passed, then the second, and then the third…. All the time Mr X had some reason or the other to explain the previous slip and was ready to give a fresh date. The reasons were varied: once it was the month, for the month of May is well beyond the publishing season; then it was the local election time and his hectic engagements; on a third occasion he was to go for a lecture tour; then once his phone went out of order for a month, and so on. Once even his sister-in-law’s illness was to interfere.
More funny was the kind of new dates he used to give, always off his sleeve, but quite interesting ones. ‘Yes, your book will be released on the Independence Day’, ‘Dushera is the right time to bring out a book…with the blessings of the Mother Goddess!’
And finally after seven months of chasing I gave up. Yes, better things were waiting to happen only after I gave up chasing Mr X.
* * * * * * * * *
And now, after four years, I have another book to publish. So, there has to be a Mr Y.
I met Mr Y on that day at the printing press while I was correcting the proof of “The Remix of Orchid”. He introduced himself as a budding publisher presently into translation in a big way. He has a range of connections, pan-Indian and effective, with all kinds of book business fellows beginning from a page-setter to the distributors. He is also known among the political circle.
And he liked my book, “The Remix of Orchid”. Particularly he liked the excellent cover design and the foreword from a big timer.
‘I’ll help you giving a proper publicity to your book. I know quite a few big sorts and one of them will come to release your book—maybe the chief minister or His Excellency Governor,’ Mr Y said this pompously.
‘Or if you want I can bring Mrs. Z, Mrs. M, N, O, P, Q…,’ Mr Y added.
His assertions took me by awe and reverence. The young man is really something, not the one I surmised from his unassuming appearance and soft-spoken words.
‘Look, I’m not thinking of the book’s release now. I’m more concerned about the paper—some twenty-five quires of 80 gsm maplitho of natural shed,’ I responded.
‘This I’ll give you, in a week’s time,’ Mr Y responded.
Then I paid Mr Y eleven thousand rupees that constituted fifty percent of the value. And I waited till the next week.
The next week did not come—it is so very elusive that it has not come so far. ‘Your paper has come’, ‘Your paper has reached the press’, ‘Your paper is with the transporter, and it will take a day’s time to clear the tax liability’…. I had no clue how to get out of this. And I felt as though I were inside a big ballooon of lie!
Only the day before yesterday I decided: ‘Even if it entails a loss of my eleven thousand rupees, I’ll give Mr Y a piece of my mind’.
I had to stand outside his premises for five hours on Saturday and for four hours on Sunday to get him and get my money back—not in full, but nearly so, say ten thousand out of eleven.
To end the note happily: now ‘The Remix of Orchid” is out of danger.
A. N. Nanda