The idea of a novel had stayed with me for a while but a few years ago I felt a compelling need to write. I did not muster up the courage to do so and it was only after a conversation with Prof. Meenakshi Mukherjee that I decided to start writing. I commenced work on Twice Written , originally called Palimpsest, in December 2004 and it was completed in September 2008. This work is going to be launched and available to readers in October 2011. In the last few years, I have done a few readings of Twice Written. In the following, you will find a summary of the novel.
My novel, Twice Written, is primarily an exploration of the idea that a text is a metaphor for life: the possibility of a representation of a thing becoming the thing itself. It is primarily an attempt to get to grips with a central hypothesis through the lives of self-conscious beings -- an essay in philosophical possibilities.
This is a theme that runs through the entire novel and I have chosen to present this exploration in terms of a narrative which deals with the lives of three young people living in Bombay in the 80's. The story maps their hopes, aspirations, confusions and contradictions in terms of their complex histories, and in doing so, I am able to engage with the history of Bombay itself and present it as part of the narrative. In dealing with the three protagonists whose families come to Bombay from Tamil Nadu, Calcutta and Lahore, the novel engages not only with the notions of location and identity but of displacement and loss and traces the predicaments of these three to the alienation that results out of these histories. A chance meeting of the three protagonists with a writer, who returns to Bombay after disappearing for a period of thirteen years, brings in a new dimension into their already uneasy relationships. The writer eventually decides to "rewrite" their lives and the second part of my novel deals with this rewriting.
The context of this novel is set out in the Prologue which brings about the tension between the spoken and the written word -- the Vyasa/Ganesha duality -- which, in turn, correspond to my first and second set of chapters, respectively. The first nine chapters deal with the stories of the three main characters and the writer. The next nine chapters present the rewriting of this story by the writer. The final nineteenth chapter, set against the backdrop of the 1992 riots in Bombay, can be read as an ending to either story line.