Day 47. My hands shake, my mind blurs. How can I even dare to write about him? He who is one of my favourite authors. He whose books I have devoured.
A greenish cover with yellowed pages coming loose… I had seen the book on the shelf for several years, part of my father’s collection, till one day I picked it up. And soon I was engrossed, travelling from the familiar lanes of Golpark to the strange world of London and back and forth. I was lost in the words, in the narrative. That was my first acquaintance with Amitav Ghosh.
I was in college when a friend shared with me a copy of The Calcutta Chromosome and I was hooked. (Remember Ayan?)
Many years later, when I met the (now) man in my life, one of the common threads we picked up right from the start was The Shadow Lines and our love for the book.
I have read so many of his other books but those two remain my favourites. These and another one. The Hungry Tide. That book allowed me a brief meeting with the author himself. I was of course too awestruck to speak. On one of Achintya’s next visits, he came back with a red and white sari. White with a red border. The sari had been woven in the Sunderbans and Mr Ghosh had picked a few of them up on one of his visits. It is one of those that he had given to Achintya’s wife, to me.
But the one exchange with him that I am grateful for and will always cherish happened a couple of years later. It was Achintya’s 40th birthday and I wanted to make it special. I decided to put together notes from 40 people dear to him. So I started contacting friends, family, relatives, colleagues and everyone shared thoughts and memories, by mail or by hand. While drawing up a list, I hit upon this audacious idea of contacting Amitav Ghosh. I even managed to sneak his email ID from Achintya’s contacts. I wrote to him explaining the idea and requested him to mail me a few lines if possible. And then the trepidation began. He will be furious. He won’t bother. How could I? But to my surprise, I got a reply the next day in which he promised to send a note in a few days. I was over the moon. It seemed unbelievable. But as the days passed and the date drew nearer, I started giving up hope. Just as I was wondering if it would be rude to send a reminder, there came the promised note. I can’t appreciate the gesture enough. And among all the notes full of love and warmth, Achintya was surely the most taken aback by this one.
I have been fortunate to attend the launches of the first two books of the Ibis Trilogy and today the third one. I had been hoping to be able to slip out in between work and I managed (thank you Samhita). Work too revolved around the Ibis and its creator today. As I read and reread, somewhere at the back of my mind was the question “how do I write about this man?”.
A memory was created for my sari today. A memory I will cherish for a lifetime.
This Telia was bought from Lepakshi at Dakshinapan. I had for long wanted to have a Telia but could never find one to my liking. All of them seemed to have too much red. Till I found this rather unusual one. The sari had a black blouse but my sister-in-law Sarmistha was going to Puri on holiday soon after and when she asked me what she should get for me, I gave her the sari and asked her to bring a kotki blouse piece.
The accessories today are all silver. The neckpiece is from Silence at Dakshinapan, a gift from an aunt Sohag Mashi. The earrings are a gift from Nina Dimma many many years ago. The tiny studs and ring are from Chambalama at New Market. The khonpar kata is the most recent gift, from my colleague Samabrita. She bought it from a mela.

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