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Amrita Tripathi

Writer/ Journalist/ Time Traveller

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Blog posts September 2017

Like a Bridge...

September 16, 2017

It's been one intense and busy summer -- hope you've all managed to keep your cool? (Why for the love of all the gods is it still so hot in Delhi mid-September!) 

My updates, such as they are: 

-- As usual, madum is jumping out of her comfort zone and wondering where she lands. I've taken on a new role over at Twitter India. You'll find a little (not a whole lot!) more on my LinkedIn and Twitter account (@amritat). Feel free to connect and share your thoughts, comments, feedback and what-not

-- The passion project that is The Health Collective continues with some fab contributors, so do check it out!

-- The writing continues on a less grand scale, sadly. I have a draft manuscript I've sort of decided to overhaul entirely, and I am will be re-working (that's the plan at any rate)
While I'm doing that, do feel free to check out my last two novels The Sibius Knot and Broken News, if you like! Buy! Read! Share! (More on that on the books page)

-- I finally wrote about my father. It's been weird and difficult and heart-wrenching to think about him in the past tense, and I will say, memories pop up at the oddest times.
But I reckon you have to keep trying to make your peace with, if not make sense of, it (nothing about life and death *really makes sense). Many more of you know what I'm trying to say in this garbled fashion. The piece that Scroll published encapsulates some of that journey, through ... books, what else?!

Sharing a short excerpt below.

 

FAMILY TIES

Reading with my father, from my childhood till the time the end was near for him

She, a writer, prefers fiction. He, a diplomat, liked nonfiction. Together, they created a museum of reading memories.

It’s been five months since my father passed away. Time softens the blow, they say, but it’s still unimaginable that there are conversations we’re not going to have anymore, say about who’s a total fraud, how things are going to hell in a hand-basket, where the world is headed. Out of these, the most frequent question was: “What are you reading?” Followed often enough by a “Challenge yourself”!

We’re a family of readers and I wonder if this inherent judgement of other people based on whether they read in the first place, and what they read, is an inherited trait.

I’ve always had more of an appetite for fiction, speculative fiction, fantasy, and some literary fiction, of course, and I have to make a conscious effort to read non-fiction. My father was the opposite, barely reading fiction as an adult. We argued about that, of course, once I found my voice, and judged each other from our sides of the boxing ring.

When he did read 15-odd pages of my novel The Sibius Knot the year before last it was a major deal. It unmoored him though, so he stopped. (Perhaps this novelist took more inspiration from real-life events than she let on.)

Last year, mid-treatment cycle he said he would read me when I reached 30,000 copies in sales... You’ll have to hang in there and keep fighting for years, I laughed.

Alas.

Over the years

Our journey through books had so many ups and downs, but it’s like a trail, something out of Hansel and Gretel.

The first book I gave my father was back in college, City of Djinns, which he enjoyed. I later got him a Jared Diamond and then much later, I lent him a review copy of Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal which I had been sent. He read it, was moved by it, and essentially gave me a “What the hell was that”, sort of reaction which of course made me read the book and then…understand what he meant. It’s an insanely powerful account of the need to come to terms with our mortality, with how we want to die.

We do not want to think about how our loved ones might die. Like my dad, I refused to read The Emperor of Maladies, once I knew his diagnosis. Something about the finality with which we were told “Stage IV cancer”. He said that I could read it and give him the gist of it, but neither of us had the heart for it, once it got so personal.

But it is personal. One line that stayed with me from Paul Kalanithi’s When Breath Becomes Air, which I repeated and insisted on repeating to dad, was the poignant moment where he says:

“Even if I’m dying, until I actually die, I am still living.”

Kalanithi’s book was the last book I gave Dad to read. (He later gave it to his oncologist, who was touched, I daresay, but also implored my father to read lighter things.)
 

... (More on Scroll)

 

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