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Tilak Rishi, born in India, has been working as a career corporate executive, after doing his MBA. Passionately pursuing his hobby for writing, he also remained a regular contributor to newspapers in India and the U.S. Many true happenings and characters he came across in life, including interaction with former president Bill Clinton, inspired Paradise Lost and Found, his first novel. A family saga, it starts from Kashmir, when this paradise on earth is lost for the tourists who thronged in thousands every year to enjoy its scenic splendor. Terrorists have turned it into one of the most dangerous places in the world. The family is not only a witness to the loss of this paradise, but also to another tragedy of much bigger magnitude. In the aftermath of the partition of India, along with millions uprooted from their homes in Pakistan, the family leaves behind all that it has in Lahore. Starting from a scratch on the difficult path to progress, it still has many joyful moments when along the way it makes a difference in many a life. The survival-to-success story climaxes in California where the family finds the paradise that was lost in Kashmir.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!!

Inderjeet, my wife, hardly ever wished something for herself, but I know whenever she wanted something, she got it without her asking, no matter the thing she wanted was important or insignificant. At times it was amusing to see her wishing for very small favors from God and He granting them all the same. We had been recently married when one weekend, after dining at a restaurant in Connaught Place, she expressed her desire to see the newly released Ganga Jamuna, running at the Regal theatre. I was surprised because going to movie was the last thing she ever got into a mood to do. May be, she wanted to make me happy, as she knew that my most favorite film star, Dilip Kumar, was in it. As we expected on the opening weekend of a big blockbuster, a huge “House Full” sign greeted us at the gate.

“Oh no, how can it happen that the very first time I want to see a film and we cannot. There must be someway we can see the movie.” She really seemed eager to see the movie.

“No way, even the black marketers seemed to have gone away after quickly making a big buck. Let us go home.” I said feeling equally disappointed.

“No, let us wait a little while more, who knows some surprise help may come, and we may be able to see the movie,” she said as if actually expecting someone to show up and lead us into the hall. And there that someone was, as soon as she completed her sentence. It was no one else but the manager of the theatre himself. He offered to give us the tickets which he had kept for a couple, who had just called to inform they would not be able to come.

I could not believe it, even if it could just be a coincidence. But in another case what happened could not be explained by any logic. A very famous Guru, having a huge following in India and abroad, had come to Delhi for the first time at the request of her devotees. After reading a beautiful write up on her in the newspaper, Inderjeet expressed her desire to see her personally. We went to attend her discourse, being held the same day in the Modern School auditorium in New Delhi. Although we went very early to have seats near the dais, we were disappointed to find that the auditorium was already full and no further admissions were allowed. Even the lawn outside the auditorium, where they had installed a TV, was almost filled up, and we got seats towards the end of the lawn from where we could not get a good view of the TV screen.

“I had wished to see Guruma but not like this. On TV we could have seen at home, watching news coverage of the event.” As she was complaining, we saw a female volunteer of foreign origin coming towards our direction from the distant corner of the compound. Crossing through the entire lawn, she came straight to Inderjeet and said, “There is a seat for you in the auditorium, please come with me.” I could hardly trust my eyes when I was watching the discourse on the TV; she was sitting just in front of Guruma, in the very first row.

The most amusing wish that inderjeet must have made in her life was when it was raining heavily one Sunday morning and she had a craving for 'jalebis'.

“Wouldn't it be wonderful if somebody brought us warm jalebis in this wet weather?” She gave went to her wishful thinking, when there was a soft knock on our door. As I opened the door, we were delighted to see Ahluwalias, our dear friends and the sweetest couple we had known in our life. The husband had a packet in his hand which he passed on to Inderjeet. “Here are some jalebis for you. As we got down from the bus we saw a vendor frying them, and thought there could be nothing better to enjoy in this weather than eating warm jalebis.”

As I kept counting in my mind the countless such instances, major and minor, amazing and amusing, when she got whatever she wished, I was getting more and more confident that this time too her wish would be granted. I had asked her to pray that the book I had almost finished writing would be published in USA, where we were moving to join our son, settled there. I knew how hard and tedious task it was for a new author to have his book accepted for publication. Even before our plane touched down at San Francisco airport, I had made up my mind how to go about it. Immediately after arriving in the U.S., I would go to the nearest library, study all the guide books on the subject, get the names of prominent publishers and agents, particularly those who were known for encouraging new writers, write to them about my book and so on.

As it happened, more than my efforts, it must have been my wife's prayer that paid off. It did not take long to receive a positive response to my query letter from a renowned publisher. They desired to see my manuscript, which they liked immensely and accepted it for publication. Our son, who had prepared me to be patient for a long wait as his friend had been waiting for his first book to be published for many years, did not believe it until he saw the publisher's letter of acceptance. He said it was a miracle that within months of landing in USA I had my first book published. “How did it happen?”, he asked. In reply I could only point to his Mom, “She must have wished so.” I knew that was the truth.


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