where the writers are
Another life

The man whose biography I am completing is dead. I am at a loss. There is the personal loss and then the helplessness that there won’t be the challenge of arguing with him. The obituaries have come in – after all, he was the former prime minister of India.

My book would cover his controversial political stint, his remarkable out-of-the-box thinking and his jack-in-the-box punches that left everyone stupefied.

I am trying to replay the tapes only to hear his voice. I refused to let anyone transcribe them. For me every act – that starts with a thought, captures words, ambience, silences - is about writing. It is like understanding body language. Seeing black on white is merely the final result.

The process of peeling another’s mind, and a complex one at that, is fascinating, disturbing and insightful. I read the sentences I had typed – his quotes that would be superimposed with my opinions. Would they clothe him or bare him?

I think the art of writing about someone else is to see them emotionally and intellectually nude without making them feel naked.