Serendipity and After/8

a novel about writing of a novel

Last evening I had a weird vision, sitting in the chair in the writing corner of my tiny apartment. I saw it clearly that Tim Barrus was reading my novel out there at his hole in Appalachia. I’ve no idea about Appalachia and I don’t know how far it’s from Kolkata. But at that time the distance didn’t matter. and I could easily track down Tim through his reading.

I’m no believer in supernatural things, but this kind of thing happens to me sometimes. Some days I can tell you beforehand who among my patients would come to my clinic today. It’s of course absurd and unbelievable. May be it’s some kind of prescience. I’ve tasted it many times myself secretly. Let me elaborate. Suppose for some reason I think of a patient in the morning, and you would not believe, when I reach my clinic, I find him sitting there right in my clinic. It gives me goose bumps. How is it possible? Is it any power?If it is, it’s an evil power. I never indulge in it. And I’m never comfortable with such experiences. I’m also very careful to never share it with anybody.

So anyway I saw Tim Barrus was reading through my novel. He seemed like an abstract figure, not his exact self. He was reading from a laptop. It must be the first chapter. From here he would move over to the second chapter, then to the third to the fourth. He had already done with the fifth, sixth and possibly the seventh chapter. I knew he would complete it somehow. I clearly saw once again he was reading it carefully like a serious reader or critic. I felt he would surely be writing about this reading experience.

My phone gets a ping. Is it any new e-mail or message?

I open it and hey, here’s a tweet from Tim Barrus. He mentions “publishing of a novel” in his tweet. I get goose bumps. Exactly like the way when I see the patient in my clinic, who I thought about in the morning.

So, I thought, Tim’s done with the first chapter. Has he recommended it? I check out my stats. Yes , he has recommended it. But I’m not thrilled. As if it was something I knew would happen.

Tim’s second tweet follows soon after. He has highlighted from the second part: Manoranjan Byapari, a richshaw puller-turned-writer, who has garnered a lot of attention in this part of the world. So he’s done with the second chapter too.

I keep watching Tim. He’s into third chapter and possibly the fourth as well. Exactly after three hours I get two tweets almost together.

In the first tweet he mentions me, highlighting : “I hope my publisher is not reading this novel.” It’s from the third chapter.

In the second tweet I get him highlighting: “Novelists lie a lot, you know, to speak the truth.” It’s from fourth chapter.

Tim is done with the reading.

At this time I see him mulling something. He leans over the keyboard and starts pounding the keys in a casual but thoughtful way.

But I’m feeling sleepy. I have to go to bed now. Sleep has a way of seizing me at the right hour and I surrender to it without any resistance. “The baby is asleep,” I hear my wife shouting jocularly. Sleep for me is like a brief spell of death. I taste death everyday.

I always rise early in the morning. This is the time when my curmudgeonly wife gets to sleep after his long fight for sleep. I use this time to type some solid words. It’s my warm-up for the day.

Today I check out my mail first. Is there any mail from Medium? Has Tim responded? Yes, it’s there — a long response. But I decide not to open it right now. It’s Tim Barrus’ writing and I must have some preparation for reading it.