It was something that came up many months ago. I received a mail from Annshu Mishra of Puffin Books, the children's edition of Penguin Books, that he was compiling an anthology of sports stories for children. Could I write one on cricket? I said I would be delighted to see my name in a book with a Puffin cover or a Penguin cover and so got down to writing my story. I wrote it at great leisure over a six month period since Annshu gave me a generous deadline, during which it underwent many small changes but I think it turned out well in the end. I will leave that story out for readers to read when it comes out.
But today I received the formal letter from Penguin asking me to sign the letter with the terms and I did and sent off one copy. It did feel good to be signing on the letter because Penguin is one of those imprints that every author wants to be on. First choice.
And of course first rejection for many as well. I regularly keep sending my stuff all the time, only to get rejected in a couple of days from Penguin but I do persist and am sure I will keep sending stuff there forever. Until one day they cave in and allow me inside.
One thing about the Penguin imprint and logo is that it carries many memories from my childhood as well. My father was a pretty voracious reader of English fiction for someone who came from a really small village in Andhra Pradesh. I wonder how he developed these tastes for English novels. I remember that he had wonderful handwriting as well and excellent command over the written language as well. He read everything and had many Penguin books in his wooden shelves, orange spines and the black and white Penguin which can be quite fascinating for a five year old. I vividly remember Wodehouse's 'Frozen Assets' among those many books even at that age.
And so life turns full cycle and I feel very satisfied that sometime soon I may hold this fine book in my hand and smile and take a picture and say 'Hey Dad, something here for you'. Will put it on the blog. I remember my father also being pretty unhappy about me wasting time playing cricket those days so it's all the more reason to say 'And its because of that cricket that I played'. I don't think he will complain, sitting up there in heaven probably shaking his head.
But on a more serious note, the celebration was more to do with the fact that I do think it reflects a bit on my gradually increasing self-worth. I have made it a point to acknowledge each and every sliver of a recognition of my self-worth, and I do think that signing up for my short story with Puffin in its sports anthology is huge. Well done Hari!
The dinner with Shobha, Anjali and Anuma at Our Place was well worth it. And now for the day when you sign up the big book as well!