Serendipity and After/12

a novel about publishing of a novel

The ground floor of the hotel is the size of a football playing ground. Garments’ corner, wine shop, gym, auditorium, disco. Some foreigners sashaying in the aisles. We were led to a huge dining hall.

Then it dawned on me. Guaranteed Cure pharma did a trick about it. In stead of booking the space adjacent to the conference room, it pushed us down into this common dining space. It was, in fact, a cost-cutting measure.

No buffet system here. Get your food items together from the food counter and sit at a table to eat it. There was no arrangement for any hard drinks.

I was eating alone at a table when i saw a doctor coming towards me with his plate filled with food. He was dressed all in white and a bit overweight, possibly in his forties.

“May I?”

“Yes, please.”

He put the plate on the table and sat in the seat across the table from me.

We introduced ourselves.

“You’re Bose and I’m Basu. I think they are the same thing. Bose is of course more smart-sounding,” he said.

I nodded in approval.

“By the way, Dr Bose, are you a cardiologist?”

“I’m a physician.”

“I think I’ve seen you before and a lot of times. Do you attend these CMEs frequently?”

“I used to, but I’ve lost interest, and I don’t really join that often now.”

I saw him mulling. He seemed to be digging something in his memory.

“Ever since I saw you in the conference room, I’ve been trying to locate where I saw you last. Your face looks so familiar to me.”

“May be you’re mistaking me for someone you know. My face has a problem with it. Some time ago I was going to attend a home call and I stopped in the marketplace. There was suddenly a jostle among the crowd and I found the shop-keepers downing their shutters and fleeing.”

“ But why?” He looked really surprised.

“They thought I was from the crime branch.”

Ha ha. Dr Basu guffawed. “Because of your hard, expressionless face, I think.” He began to think again. Then he almost jumped up from his seat.

“Do you, by any chance, write for the net?”

I was surprised. I said,”Yes.”

“Are you writing a novel on Medium now?”

I was more surprised. Yes, I said.

He was yelling in glee. “ Now I get it. I’ve been reading your novel since its first chapter. They publish your image with your writing. I see it everyday. How can I not recognize it?”

“Do you like the novel?”

“Of course,” he said, “I’m not much of reader, but I find this really engaging. You’ll be glad to know that I’ve made a folder for it. I’m saving all chapters in it.”

“Thank you.”

“What a coincidence! I’m seeing you in person. I never imagined it.”

He was eating very slowly and now seemed more interested in the conversation.

“I find it really intriguing — this concept of publishing one chapter a day from your novel. You’re writing on the go, I presume.”

“Yes,” I said.

“But how do you do it?”

“I just write the chapter and push the publish button.”

“Oh, I don’t ask that. How do you knock out a whole chapter each day?”

“I rise early in the morning and start tapping on my keyboard in a furious way without a thought and get the whole thing done just before my wife is up from her bed.”

“How many chapters are there in this novel?”

“I don’t really know. I have no outline for it.”

“But how long can you do it, I wonder.”

“I have roughly a plan to continue it until my actual novel is published.”

“Shadowland. Such a good title.” He drank some water from a glass. “Do you notice they have not arranged drinks for us?”

“Yes,” I said.

“What do these fucking companies think of us doctors? Are we that cheap?” he suddenly burst into a rage.”I find this very insulting.”

“Do you notice their entire sales force comprise doctors and only doctors?”

“Yes, yes. They’re fucking up our profession every way. Did you ever talk with that Bardhan? He thinks he gets a good salary from this job. Fool. I told him, you can earn that sum just in a week if you practice just two hours each day. Am i right or not?”

“You’re absolutely right,” I said.

“I’m going to stop writing any product of this company right from tomorrow. I want to teach them a lesson. What’s a seminar without drinks?”

He emptied his plate and stood up to bring some more food. He came in soon enough.

“Dr Bose,” he said taking his seat, “Would you mind if I seek a favor from you?”

“Oh sure,” I replied with a bit of apprehension.

“My wife is a writer. She has written five novels, some hundred stories, and many essays. But she has not had any publisher for it.”

“A common problem for new writers,” I responded.

“Could you please introduce her to your publisher?”

“Not at this point. I have yet to know him well. “

“What’s his name?”

“Did you notice I have never mentioned his name in the novel? Can you imagine why? He has actually threatened me saying that if I leak out his name, h’s going to sue me.”

“Strange. He should have taken this opportunity of getting out his name more in the media.”

“He’s a weird kind. He has his own rules, I suppose.”

“Is he really very educated?”

“I have no idea. but he was a newspaperman. He worked for the ABP Group for about 40 years and he did publishing on the side, but he’s retired now and works full time for his publishing house.”

“Sorry to disturb you. But I’ve no peace in the family. Having no publisher for her work, she is so frustrated these days. And you know, she makes me responsible for it.”

“How could you be responsible?”

“That’s the point. I never told her to be a writer. Actually when I married her I never knew she had this writing bug in her. It was an arranged marriage, you know. I saw her, fell in love with her great beauty and married her. Now this problem. She now taunts me saying “So what kind of doctor you are? You can’t get a publisher for your wife!”. This has become a refrain with her.”

“I understand it’s a unique problem,”I empathized Dr Basu.

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Thanks to Tessa, augustkhalilibrahim, SF Ali and mark-john clifford for their response/recommend