Those seven days

What an unforgettable time it was! Those seven days, when I made the hero of my novel suffocate in the attic while I shaped and scribbled his life in a creative frenzy!

Yes, frenzy it was, as thoughts raced ahead like the galloping horse of the villain-hero Ramsingh. Clangs of swords, shouts of abuse and shrieks of pain...

Thus did my novel Barale Innu Yamune (made into the popular film Sipayi Ramu) spring to life. Listening avidly to the raids of Chambal valley dacoits narrated by relatives whenever they came over, an urge to write about them rose in me. It grew further upon reading about their life and travails through the book of Baba Vinoba, They laid down dacoity.

In between, I happened to read the biography of the notorious dacoit Mansingh. The innate grit of that tragic figure had a profound effect on my imagination and I decided to make him the second hero of the novel, which was still in the embryo stage. The first hero, though, had to be a sort of villain to the hazy story churning inside the womb of my mind. And the title? Well, it was like an apple that fell on my lap from the heavens!

One night, I walked in my sleep to the writing table. As though guided by some unseen hand, I took up the pen, scribbled a title, and the words began pouring out! Perusing it in the morning, I was stunned to see the title Barale Innu Yamune as well as the final chapter of the novel! Which muse had taken possession of me and driven me to compose it?

Thereafter, I wrote like one possessed. Since I resided in a sort of headquarters with relatives around, I would deliberately lock myself in the house soon after my husband left for work. I would close all the doors and windows, ignore all calls, and ride straight to Chambal valley. My chair became my horse and my pen, the sword. I would become Ramsingh, the dacoit, and abandon myself completely to my imagination.

For four days, I had my Ramsingh cooped up in the attic, conjecturing the situation through sounds coming from the streets and the sights seen below. Cooped up similarly, I penned all the sounds I heard outside (even the braying of donkeys and barking of dogs) and described all that I saw through the small window opened furtively whenever needed. As such, it was a wrench to get up and open the door to my husband on his return from office. "Please put down the pen and open the door," he would request. And lo, I would return to my normal self after being distanced from the pen!

The same scene went on for seven days at a stretch! On the eighth day, with the novel finished, and the villain safely behind bars, I became myself again completely. Oh, what a relief (to my husband, of course)!  

Soon after, it was adapted into a film Sipayi Ramu with Dr Rajkumar as the hero. "I will hash it, mash it and cash it," the producer had said. He did all three, and how! I felt like Rip Van Winkle, while also being given the title of the first person to have introduced dacoits to our placid Karnataka!  

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