History, Short Essays

The Importance Of Being Ramachandra Guha

images (8)I still remember that day. I first saw it in the brick and mortar bookstore, a chain of the Odyssey book stores, in the first storey of a tiny mall in my small town – my hometown.  I took upon in my hands the mighty beast of this book which ran for more than seven hundred pages, and I began reading a few pages of it (Read as the first eight pages). I still remember the amusing look which my dad gave me, for he was both puzzled and delighted that his daughter is holding a history book, and that book is making her smile. That book I held then was Ramachandra Guha’s “India After Gandhi“. I was only sixteen then – a good age to fall in love – and we bought the book home.  When I was in my teens, we had no internet connection in our home and I would wait for Guha’s columns published often in The Hindu. The name would always bring me certain happiness as if I saw a friend who has come home for a play. When we got Internet, I began following and reading him regularly and extensively.

I grew up reading Ramachandra Guha and in a great way my outlook on India, its politics and culture is greatly affected and molded by his writings. Looking back now, after nearly nine years since I began reading him, I wonder what really made me to fall in love with this man’s writings, then. Also, it still astonishes me that his words brings the same cheerfulness I had felt when I read him for the first time. Years have run by; I have grown from my teens to mid-twenties, boyfriend and crushes have come and gone, there are authors whom I have once swooned only to find them repelling as I grew and finally abandoned, Sachin no longer plays, Modi has become India’s PM, Salem has got its own Dominoes outlets, and  I have grown good enough to read and understand Samuel Beckett. Still, his writings give me the same infectious smile I had when I read him for the first time in that brick and mortar store of that small town.

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