Friday 24 August 2012

#OBSummer #Books - Ford 99 - The Destiny of Shaitan

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Genre - Fantasy / Metaphysical
Rating - PG13
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I loved this exercise. When I opened to page 99, prophetically you could say, in the fashion of the foreshadow—a technique I love—this turned out to be my personal all-time favourite narrative of The Destiny of Shaitan. The paragraphs on this page were part of the original short-story which I wrote a long time ago… words which sparked off my nine-year-gestation

—“ A scene from When Tiina met Egreog etches in her mind, a tableau of sorts. So innocent, yet her mind replays it over and over again in the coming months—him watching her watch the rain.”

It sums up my obsession with coincidences; two people being at the same place at the same time, what are the chances of that happening in the real world anyway right? And what would happen if they had not been in that same space? How would that have changed their life journey.

On a more personal level, I have always wondered what would have happened if I had taken a different direction in life. What would it have meant for my own future? What if I had followed my heart instead of my head more often? Would I be where I am today? I term this as opportunity-cost. The cost of the would-have-been. After beating myself up and questioning this from many directions, I stumbled across a truth. That it is what it is; it was what it was; for there are no alternative routes. There is no future and there is no past. There is only the now. Living in the now, in this moment when you are reading these words, that is all there is. There is nothing else. Makes sense?

I find this strangely liberating for it takes the matter of choice out of my hands. When I live in the just now, I am happy. I don’t plan, I don’t have to achieve I don’t have to worry about what things will be like five-ten-fifteen years later. For all that is not real; what is real is here, in this infinitesimal second. It contradicts and yet dove-tails so neatly with the Indian concept of fatalism which says that one’s life path is planned out even before one is born. Your blueprint—so to speak—is set. So may as well just settle down and go with the flow right?

The truth of the now balances out my obsession with predicting the future, of looking into the deep unknown and finding out if the force will be with me?

So this is why I write fantasy—set hundreds of years in the future—obsessed as I am with living in the past-the present-and the future at the same time.

On top of this is layered my pre-occupation with a futuristic Bombay. Which believe-it-or-not is what page 69 is about. Growing up in the crowded & grimy twentieth largest city in the world, packed to its seams with thirteen-million people had a permanent imprint on my soul. It was as if my ten chakras were opened so that all six senses touch-smell-sight-hearing-feeling-intuition were uber-sensitised. It was about living life in overdrive, a constant adrenaline rush to step up your game. It taught me to be street-smart, to master the game of survival at any cost, very early.

My favourite fantasy is therefore of a dystopian Bombay. Imagine this: what if nature rebelled one day and decided to crash under the burden of this heavy load? What if the Arabian Sea rose and cleaned Bombay of its people, its rubbish, its slums, its new-high-rise-apartment blocks, its steel & chrome office buildings, its gaudy brand-toting malls and the millions of smoke-spewing vehicles which clog its lungs. And then, when this tired city has returned to its original virgin seven islands which it was built on, and was to be re-populated by lives and half-lives (half human-half alien futuristic species) what would it look like then? How different would it be? Well this is what I am going to explore in more detail in Return to Seven Islands, #2 Chronicle of the Three, which I hope to release next spring - Holi 2013.

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