Roopa Ghosh wound through the crowded roads in a three wheeler. She had just 30 minutes to reach Chittaranjan Park for her appointment at 4pm.Had she known the previous day she would have been well prepared. It was only when she reached her office at 2 pm, she found a slip on her desk from the Editor. It read
”Mr. Nakul Goswami, the celebrated author, has agreed to give an interview at 4PM today. Meet him at 24, RT road, CR Park sharp at the appointed time. Carry slips of paper for questions and answers as he is deaf-mute. His latest book Doubting God has already become a best seller for the year and a heated topic for discussion in literary circles. Can I have your report day after tomorrow? I wish to carry it in this weekend edition. Cheers, Som”
She knew this book was popular and much in demand though it is in her shelfari under books to be read. She quickly ran thro Wikipedia and the net to know about the man, his background and his literary output. She read some rave reviews and jotted down some points in her diary. There was a tinge of envy when she found he was just 34 and already famous as a writer with a few more books in the pipeline and possibly already wealthy. She looked at the mirror, had a small touch up, applied lipstick and sprayed gentle perfume. She did not want to look like a sun beaten reporter with a disheveled hair.
She rang the bell a minute before 4pm and was ushered into the study where Nakul Goswami was waiting for her. She greeted him with folded hands and he reciprocated by extending his arm. She shook his hands warmly. Both smiled at each other without a word. There was a twinkle in his eyes and looked younger for his age and was very handsome. The hair was slightly receding but it only enhanced his charm. He sat opposite to her at the mahogany table in the spacious well furnished air conditioned room. They kept silent for a few moments when Roopa scribbled her question in a slip.
“I am Roopa Ghosh from Bharat Times. I am fortunate to meet a celebrated author for the first time. I visualized a serious looking person and am pleasantly surprised to see a young man who has achieved so much within this young age. I have read enough about you though I must confess I have not read your latest book Doubting God.I will do within the next two days. My interview will not be about the book but more about you, your life and motivations” She handed over the slip and kept the bunch of slips on the table under a paper weight.
He read it and laughed aloud. He wrote”You have a sweet name and an apt one too. I was actually looking for a middle aged guy with three days stubble and not a young lady. Before we start tell me what will you have, tea or fruit juice?” and gave the slip.
She signaled a no with a wave of her hand but he ignored her and rang the bell.”I appreciate your honesty in telling that you have not read my book. Tell me about you before we proceed with the interview. How long are you with this daily? You look in your early twenties. Where are your parents? What is your goal in life?”
“I am not that young and am 27.I live in Motibagh with my parents. My dad is government official.I did graduation in English literature and have a degree in Journalism. I am with this daily for nearly two years and wish to be a writer like you. Can I now start asking you questions?”
“Wow! We are birds of the same feather, a writer and a budding writer. We are both Bengalis too, he he. Okay, shoot your questions”
‘Born in a Bengali family where Maa Kali is held in great reverence, the title of your book Doubting God is intriguing. Are you not a believer?”
“Good question. My mother is a very pious lady doing all pujas and observing rituals. My dad is also a devotee but not very demonstrative. Much to my mom’s disappointment, I am an agnostic. I don’t interfere with her beliefs and gladly eat the sweet prasad she makes. May be when I grow old I may change or may not. I do not discuss this with others though the book is about an agnostic converted later by his lover. I am sure you must be a great devotee of Goddess Durga.”
“Yes, I am very pious and pray twice daily. Now coming to your writing, you are already an icon among the youngsters after the release of this best seller. What were the motivations of taking up such a theme? Can I say that it sounds like autobiographical after knowing your beliefs?”
“It is simply like this. I do not know whether god exists or not. I am not sure like others. So when I write a book this unsureness about god unconsciously reflected in the story. It is a theme that is known to me and has been discussed in the novel. As in all novels there is a woman in it and inevitably a romance. I wished to give a happy ending and made the agnostic succumb to her persuasions.Ofcourse she could not prove the existence of god but he found it comforting to agree with his beloved. Please note he is not an atheist who refuses to believe in god but only professes his lack of knowledge about existence of God”
“Do you mean an agnostic is a cowardly or a weak atheist vulnerable to romantic persuasions?”
“Haha, I think love is a powerful emotion. Won’t you agree?”
“I have no idea. I have had no lover” she laughed and he joined her
Meanwhile the help brought a tray full of sandesh, rosgollla and singharas with tea
They talked for quite some time through the slips of course about the initial difficulties in publishing a book, the disappointments of rejections, the unexpected break and finally when the book is out the tremendous response from readers. They talked about the publishers who rejected initially making a beeline with new offers and about the fame and wealth that followed.
“Do you have any plans to write a novel?” he asked
“I wish to but do not know how to start it. My mind gets blank”
“Make a story line for some 15 chapters and bring it to me. We shall discuss and refine them. You can then start writing. I am willing to help you” he said
“I am touched by your kindness. I will consider it seriously. Thanks for the interview. It is nearing 7pm.I must rush back” she wrote in the slip
He came up to the door, shook hands with her lingering a tad longer than usual and profusely thanked her.
On the second day a messenger brought an envelope containing a draft of the interview and a small note from the Editor.
“Dear Mr. Nakul Goswami,
Please see the draft enclosed. It is excellently written by Roopa. If you wish to modify, you can make the corrections. My office boy will come to collect tomorrow.
Incidentally Roopa is all praise for you and thanks you for the courtesy shown to her. She was telling me about her plans to meet you soon though she did not reveal the purpose. I do not know whether you had observed as she did not use sign language. She is also a deaf-mute. But she is one of our best sub editors.
With best wishes and regards, Som”