2016 started with firecrackers raining fire on my head (really, they malfunctioned and went off not too far from the rooftop). Into its second month, my grandfather died. He was my last living grandparent, and one of my favourite people in the world. I helped carry the dead body of a person I love for the first time in my life (I was abroad for the many major familial deaths of the last decade and a half). I’m guessing that weight stays with you for a long time. I cradled his head as I laid it down on the bamboo frame on which he was ushered into flames.
My grandfather got to read my first published novel, The Devourers, last year, several months before he died. He told me (I paraphrase from mixed Bengali and English), “The plot went a little over my head, but I really liked your writing style. Very good.” He didn’t much like fiction that was ajgoobi (fantastical nonsense, if I’m translating correctly) despite his fondness for Die Hard and Bond movies, but he said my book, unequivocally non-realist as it was, “might have changed [his] mind.” Maybe he said that because I’m his grandson, but hell, he was pretty damn honest.
He lived a long life (86 years), though not as long as we all hoped. If there’s one thing (well, three) I can say for 2015, which was a difficult, frustrating year: I published my first book after years of hard work, and my grandfather got to read it, and he genuinely liked it.
2016 promises to be even more challenging, judging from this past month. But I think what would have made my grandfather happy; to see me publish more stories, more books. To write more. And so I shall.