Most people will agree with me that David Davidar knows more about book publishing than anyone else in the world today. A little over 20 years ago he was sent by owners of Penguin International to open a branch in India.
Aveek Sarkar of Ananda Bazar Patrika bought 42% of the shares and appointed me his nominee. We made a modest beginning in a flat with three rooms, one for David, one for me and the third for the typists and a chaprasi.
Within two years, David made it India's leading and most prosperous publishing house. I got some of the credit without earning it. He was transferred to Canada to perform the same miracle on a world-wide scale.
He had earlier married a very beautiful girl, Rachna, and the two set up a home in Toronto. They were going great guns when he allegedly fell victim to envy and racial prejudice and was sacked unceremoniously.
Rachna and he are back in India and have set up their home in Gurgaon. He has recently published his memoirs in fiction form, Ithaca (HarperCollins). He has two earlier novels to his credit - The House of Blue Mangoes and The Solitude of Emperors - both of which won him acclaim abroad and in India. As one would have expected, his latest novel is based on his experience as a publisher and is highly readable.
I had pleaded with Badey Mian who lives up in the clouds to relieve me of my obligations to write columns for newspapers. He thought over the matter and replied: "Khushwant, if you stop writing your columns, you will soon lose the attention you get from your readers. No one will give a flying toss for you and soon you will regret your decision and go into oblivion. You better keep going till I send for you."
* The views in this column are personal.