LOOKING BACK . . . On Books and Babies
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LOOKING BACK . . . On Books and Babies

Although I have not yet produced a novel, I hope to someday soon. My secret dream is to be one of those authors that live in relative obscurity, but are so beloved by their readers that a new book by them is snapped up and sold out as soon as it is published. I wait for my favourite authors to bring out new offerings and promptly order a copy for myself. Many of them are old and slow to come out with new works but it is worth the waiting.

By D. Lalitha Rao

Writing after many weeks is always a difficult task. The hand is rusty, the thoughts are musty and the sense of continuity has vanished over the horizon. Still, it is the job of a writer to write, create, produce and publish. I thought I would start with a paragraph or two about what’s been happening in my world.

Mysuru has slowly but steadily woken up to the literary world and embraces it with joy. Two Lit Fests were held back to back in June, both resounding successes. They drew large audiences and the cream of Indian literary luminaries like Girish Karnad and Ramachandra Guha spoke to enthralled listeners. This sleepy little town of ours is capable of rising to great heights; even budding authors are encouraged to produce more works.

I am reminded of a story that the famous Canadian author Margaret Atwood had to tell about the launch of her first book The Edible Woman. The book signing had been arranged at a department store down town and for reasons best known to the publisher, she was put with copies of her book in the basement where the men’s boxer shorts and socks were sold. Came lunchtime and men began to wander in to do their shopping; as soon as they saw the lady with the pile of books with the funny title, they took one look and retreated hastily or just fled. The poor author ended up signing two copies of her book. Of course, she went on to achieve literary fame, winning the Booker Prize for The Blind Assassin and writing a number of wonderful novels, but that first experience stayed with her. A lot of us ambitious authors have been through this experience where nobody seems to be interested in what you have to say and the world is a loveless friendless place! But we cannot give up hope or the act of writing because it defines us as people, gives substance to our personalities.

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I was at a Meet-the-Author session some years ago in Chennai, the author being the legendary Wilbur Smith. He was lively and amusing despite his age, and kept us enthralled with his anecdotes about the literary world. One of the stories he told us was about the time he was at a signing event of his first book at the famous bookstore Doubleday in New York. He was put in a room along with another author who he noticed was signing books in a great hurry, even though there were no customers waiting in line. Looking up he noticed Wilbur Smith regarding him with wastonishment and no doubt feeling that an explanation was due, said sheepishly, that by signing the copies he was making sure the publisher did not take them back! The author turned out to be none other than Frederick Forsyth the best-selling English writer of spy and adventure thrillers.

Although I have not yet produced a novel, I hope to someday soon. My secret dream is to be one of those authors that live in relative obscurity, but are so beloved by their readers that a new book by them is snapped up and sold out as soon as it is published. I wait for my favourite authors to bring out new offerings and promptly order a copy for myself. Many of them are old and slow to come out with new works but it is worth the waiting. John Le Carre the English master of spy thrillers is out with a book in September which I eagerly await, and he is in his eighties!

So much for the world of creativity and literary delights. Now for some natural phenomena. Life always renews itself and the promise of new things keeps one going from day to day.

As I look out of my window at the gardens below, I see that the African Tulip tree is already in flower. Beautiful red blossoms are bursting into flame and soon the whole tree will be filled with scarlet flowers that brighten up the dull skies. Nature sticks to her schedule no matter what and the passing of seasons is to be noted with a sense of satisfaction and rightness.

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Then, we are shortly to become grandparents. My daughter-in-law in faraway San Francisco is in the last term of her pregnancy and junior as we currently call him, is kicking away vigorously at his mummy’s  tummy. I am delighted and wait in eager anticipation for the happy event to take place. I guess all grand-parents reading this would immediately understand how we feel, the sense of something wonderful about to happen, the knitting of baby sweaters and bootees, the whole glorious new life about to unfold. It’s too early to think in terms of what will he become or do, but I know what I have to do to make this house child safe, so that he can crawl around and explore to his heart’s content without hurting himself. I must put away all fragile and breakable ornaments, all sharp and poky objects, and leave only toys at his eye and hand level. I have to fix a gate at the entrance to our open kitchen. I have to prepare to be a granny with all the fun and little of the responsibility that parents have. Does that sound selfish?

I think I can justify myself by pointing out that when I was at the parenting stage there was nothing I did not do to ensure that my boys grew up to be fine citizens. They have made us more than proud. Now it’s time for us to sit back and enjoy the joys of childhood once again. One of the things I definitely want to do is write story books for my grandchild. Books that his parents or we grandparents will read out to him.

In our time the guide to parenting and baby care was by Dr. Benjamin Spock the famous Paediatrician. I don’t know what baby books the young parents-to- be refer to these days but I’m sure that all advice centres on plenty of tender loving care. Here’s to all babies !

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September 4, 2017

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Mysuru's favorite and largest circulated English evening daily has kept the citizens of Mysuru informed and entertained since 1978. Over the past 39 years, Star of Mysore has been the newspaper that Mysureans reach for every evening to know about the happenings in Mysuru city. The newspaper has feature rich articles and dedicated pages targeted at readers across the demographic spectrum of Mysuru city. With a readership of over 2,50,000 Star of Mysore has been the best connection between it's readers and their leaders; between advertisers and customers; between Mysuru and Mysureans.