A friend persuaded me to attend a book reading session by Tarun Tejpal, editor-in-chief and publisher of Tehelka, post the launch of his latest tale "The Story of my Assassins".
So Friday the 13th (:-), not as ominous as it may seem) late evening saw me at Landmark, Pune wondering what would be the tenor of this session but braced myself with enticing option of going on a book buying spree just in case….. so…. Here goes what little I can regurgitate and apologies as the narrative is not all chronological and not comprehensive.
After the customary welcome (gushing by the host) and a few warm up questions about his earlier opus, Tarun Tejpal launched on the incident which inspired him to forge the story…borne out of internal inquisition that perhaps the life of the assassin was of more value than that of the person he was hired to extinguish?!
(I have not yet gone through the book nor have I read any reviews so I will desist commenting on the intricacies of the book.)
Following this was a short reading from his book, which seemed to exhibit a brutal candor while etching out his characters and their chronicle.
There was the expected Q&A spanning from his writing modus to Indian politics/politicians to who his target audience were to how he disentangles his role as a “hard facts” journalist from that of a creative fiction writer to Mayawati epitomizing the dalit aspiration - a potential P.M. no less (I object on the basis of a "label" and not qualification being the criterion!) to how the media should review what should be the focus of their reportage to what was ailing our society to how we as ordinary citizens can bring out the change we seek to see .
Throughout the Q&A, the motif of his response was “empathy”; the masses become cognizant of and sensitive to their environment only then will our polity, our society transmute into a more conscientious entity.
The tail piece was the book signing….I waited in line for my turn. Finally face to face, while the flourish of his pen inscribed his best wishes on my copy, I went on to say. “A group of us have ventured beyond the stage of empathy. We have launched an online initiative.”…a brief pause from my end and he looked up at me and asked me what the website featured. A one liner response from me described what www.neverforget.in aimed to achieve. He ended this 1-1 with a, “send me a mail about this website”,hopefully suitably piqued (am I being too optimistic!) and off I went.
While making the payment at the cash counter, there comes this mid aged lady who was apparently at the book reading . She said that she had overhead me speak to Tarun Tejpal about Never Forget and said ever since she read the piece in Pune Mirror, she was very keen to make contact with the team. She very enthusiastically commended our work , declared that this was the need of the hour and went off with my telephone number.
Not a bad day after all,eh!! :))))