Following the recent release of my book, Visa, Stickers and Other Matters of the Soul, I was asked if I was planning to write anything else.
‘I don’t know,’ I answered. ‘I don’t feel like a writer. I feel like someone who just happened to write a book.’
It wasn’t modesty that prompted my response but the fact that the book came into being in such a ridiculously easy manner that it feels odd to claim credit for it. Whenever I sat to write (and I sat in whimsical spurts), the required thoughts, phrases and vocabulary all presented themselves. Many chapters in the book required no rewrites/major edits, just the basic proofreading. The hunt for a publisher went by equally smoothly (Its published by Pan Macmillan India).
Yet there was this one chapter that caused me grief. It was portentously titled ‘Surrender’. I suspect Swami’s hand in the mischief. Here’s why.
Surrender comprises three sub chapters full of disclosures of a very personal nature and like the rest of the book, I’d written them down intuitively, not sure what they were leading up to. Ever since its first draft, though, I’d sensed something missing and wasn’t happy with how they connected (or not) to each other. Hoping some theoretical background might help, for the next couple of days I scanned through my small personal library of spiritual books- 2 volumes of Bhagavad Gita, teachings of Ramana Maharshi, Paramhamsa Yogananda, Anandamayi Ma, Swami Rama, Swami Vivekananda… Somehow, I found nothing appropriate! I went online. Nothing!
And only then, I did something I should’ve done at the start, had I been smarter! I closed my eyes and from the bottom of my heart, literally ‘surrendered’ the chapter to Swami.
‘If it’s incomplete, tell me,’ I prayed. ‘If the chapter has come from my ego rather than from you, tell me too, so I can remove it. I don’t want to portray you wrong.’
I went back to the computer, and this time, the second link that turned up on my search engine was on Saranaagathi, Surrender. It was exactly what my sub chapters spoke about, in the same sequence too! The thread the chapters lacked.
During this process I’d been chatting with Sumana, my friend from college who lives in USA now, and is often referred to in the book. She’d been helping me edit the chapter, holding my hand as I muddled my way through the concept of surrender. I sent her the edited text and for more than an hour we discussed the concept, it’s suitability to my narrative and whether I was interpreting Swami correctly.
The next day (still evening of the previous day in US) I received an email from her.
‘This morning, except my laptop, nothing in the house was working,’ she wrote, ‘including my VOIP phone.’
Unknown to her, their internet router had busted. She’d watched her husband, even as we’d chatted, bemused at his fidgeting with their household’s various communication devices. Soon after we’d finished our discussion, her laptop had stopped working too.
‘Now I know I was working in the ‘grace’ bubble,’ she ended. ‘Just for you Lom! You surrendered! He worked!’
He did. And not just for that chapter.
Posted by Lom Harshni Chauhan
Alumnus, Anantapur Campus, 1991-94