What? A book by a fifteen year old? Aren’t they usually out playing cricket or sitting indoors glued onto their computer screens? But the fact is that young Dev Popat has written and published a book of his own. What a feat!
Now about the book … almost every Indian is well-versed with the plots and at least a few subplots from the epic Mahabharata. There are scores of characters – lovable, awe-inspiring, mighty, impressive, despicable…. Dev has picked one of the most misunderstood and wronged characters and made him the protagonist of his first book ‘The Forgotten Son’. The hero, Karna, abandoned at birth and forsaken by those he looked up to, is one character from the Mahabharata you don’t hear about as much as you’d want to. His face off with his enemies, his initial infatuation with the woman he could never have, the only friendship he forges and stands by steadfastly – all this and much more has been dealt with by Dev in a style of story-telling that is simple yet engrossing, informative yet interesting and entertaining. He has done his research well and isn’t just narrating an oft-told tale that we think we know so well. So kudos to you on that, Dev.
The book itself is eye-catching with the colours and illustration on its cover and I think the title indicates more than the fact that ‘this son’ was forsaken by almost everyone, even those that should have been on his side the most. It also seems to remind us that this brave, honest and faithful man, son of our soil, has seldom received his fair share of the respect and awe he rightfully deserved.
To sum it up, this is a well-written first book by Dev and I hope he keeps writing and continues to impress…
These are the stages (and some difficulties) I go through as a writer of novels (having written a second one, both unpublished and a couple of partially completed novels as well, the stages been pretty standard every time)
- The excitement following the conceptualisation of a theme, building characters, the plot. I can’t wait to start writing the novel. I am so excited that I may even dump other half-done projects quite unceremoniously.
- The writing part. The creative energy flows. The characters that had been lurking in my mind comes alive with their many foibles, troubles and problems. The first parts of the jigsaw puzzle pieces come together.
- Period of uncertainty. Half-way through the novel, the plot isn’t thickening the way I wanted it to. I worry that it doesn’t meet my initial expectation. This is also the period when a project can go into limbo if another better and seemingly more thrilling story has popped into my head.
- I persist. I plod on tapping away on my keyboard. The story has to move on and reach the end I must. I suddenly see that the word count isn’t in keeping with the ideal number of words for that kind of genre. So I ease down a bit. In my worry that this may also be one of those has-been projects, I’ve been going at it too quickly.Hence the shorter narratives.
- Another reason I’ve been hurrying up is that I can’t wait to get to the end. It is exciting for me as well to know how the last bit will turn out (although I know it in a gist). Quite a bit of the story has written itself by this time. New thoughts have arrived during the writing process. New characters have introduced themselves with a promise to fill in a certain unforeseen loophole that needed to be fixed.
- The end. Phew! Quite a ride it was. I remember a point in time when the whole story and plot had the makings of a best-seller. But I am not so sure about that any more. Only time will tell. Meanwhile I am happy I even wrote it down. It wasn’t all that easy and I managed to get it done. So I pat myself on the back and give myself a treat because I just wrote myself a story.