Mother is gone. Wife has taken her place. Now I can continue to be a child for the rest of my life, because the past 10 days have showed me that my wife is as good a mother to me as my mother.
The past 10 days have been, to say the least, most horrible in my recent memory. As someone who regularly smokes and drinks and keeps irregular hours, throat and chest infections are like cousins with who I muddy my feet in the neighbourhood pond all the time. But this was a viral infection that knocked me dead. I shut myself off from the world, the worldly desires having already deserted me with the onset of 103 degrees fever, and the only desire that would surface now and then would be to be in the possession of a loaded gun that I could put to my head and end my miseries.
One sure-shot sign of recovery is the rekindling of the urge to live -- the urge to do things you are always used to doing. Tonight, touch wood, the urge has come back and that is how I am here, trying to write. But till this morning, I was almost a dead man, kept on the ventilator by an efficient and a concerned wife. She was perhaps sure I would pull through, but I myself wasn't sure at all.
This morning something else happened as well. As soon as I woke up, someone held a mirror to me -- which did not show the ghostly, unshaven me, the sight I was beginning to get used to seeing, but something more promising. It was a review of Chai, Chai in desicritics.org, a website I used to occasionally write for once upon a time.
After 10 months, it felt nice that someone had remembered the book again, and said nice things about it too. No, the review was anything but flattering. But it spoke the truth -- something I value more than just praise. Here is the review: please read it.
Chai, Chai may have a few firsts and pluses to its credit, but it is also true that it isn't the best Indian travel book ever written. In fact I would rewrite most of it if I had a chance now -- a chance I hope to avail of at a later stage. The best Indian travelogue, as the reviewer says, is yet to come. And that's where hope lies for people like me.
But what really made my morning was the reviewer's thought: "This is Ghosh's first book and I get the feeling that as he writes more, he will add that edge and depth to his existing narrative skills. We may yet see the first great Indian travelogue coming from Bishwanath Ghosh." How many, really, make that allowance for you? I owe the reviewer one good book.