Now I am going to commit a sin which earlier I have never (or hardly ever, as the Pirate says in Gilbert and Sullivan) committed before. Where absolutely inevitable, I am going to be a bit autobiographical-or rather going to say something about why and what I try to write. Even when I was a student, I always felt that literature should not only be a play, a construction, but always an expression of something that affects man, because he is a man. Many of the then popular novels I found absolutely flippant. Most of the stories today, I found irrelevant today. You said in your letter, (and though your idea was not entirely unexpected to me, I was jolted by it.) that the story is trying to say something beyond literature, something more profound. Do you really believe that this profound something is a taboo to literature, or literature becomes significant, something more than a display of coloured words, like sea shells and cowries, because of this? When writing about पु.शि.रेगे-Ok Ok, I almost forgot out contract. Let me make myself clear. I do not want limps of indigestible social criticism (a la वरेरकर), I hate political novels (a la माडखोळकर). I find आपटे superficial, because he concentrated on social discrepancies when where is a fear at the heart of life itself. A time comes when we have to face Evil, Sorrow, cracks in man, Lamias inside golden snakes, and golden snakes in Lamia. I do not want to turn my back on them and like children, builld sand castles. God knows that I will not be able to answer any of those damned, pestering questions, where Christ and the Buddha have failed. But I will never write anything for anything less. It is an impulse that is inevitable. You see, almost every person in my stories, is a person whom I have seen, observed; some of them from my early, vivid childhood. Sometimes I have not spoken a single word to them. But those characters have haunted, troubled and persecuted me. Every such character was a slap in my face, and to relieve the burden, I am freeing them in my stories. I have tried to know what made them tick-or what came in their way of ticking. Often, many stories are just confrontation with a moment of Truth-death, disillusion, complete despair-or tragedy may revolve around, a child may stick to its vanishing Paradise, as in तुति. This is almost the patter in 'वस्त्र', 'कांकणे', 'राक्षस', 'अंजन' etc... You must have noticed that I have not published any love stories. I do not intent to, but I had written a few. But then Love cannot stand such moments of truth; it itself is a moment of truth; what follows afterwards is a trail, an echo, an empty shell. I have seen happy couples married for forty years. That is the result of adjustments and fitting leg pistons in a car. Kindness surrounds any possibility of truth and after all habit makes even "हिडिंबा" a good companion. (Did I tell you about an old student of mine? A married girl, twenty four, two kids, slightly stout but attractive; voracious reader; husband assistant Engineer in All India Radio: she was extremely devoted wife and mother. Today I remember only two things about her-her devastating essay on Matthew Arnold; and secondly, her habit of raising her eyes from the book in front of her in a beautiful velvety way. Well, once there was psychological and aptitude survey by an outsider. Complete anonymity was guaranteed, to get frank answers to queries. One of the questions was 'Are you really happy with your parter?' The girl filled the form and showed it to the two of us of the department. She had written, 'Absolutely not-He is vulgar, scratches his stomach when taking food, his teeth are bad, and he snores. If given an opportunity, I will be a Buddhist nun.' I quietly tore the form and sent her away.

About the stories now. You say that you have not yet caught up with the form; when I read that I felt a complete fraud. You see, there is no form at all, which I can honorably put before you. Such stories (which started with पारवा-I have attached a few in that collection. Have you seen them?) were first merely doodles, a kind of scribblings-perhaps some constructions, or at best fantasies. There were some aspects, legends, bits situations, which by themselves could not enter my usual stories, but which I could not forget. There is one bit called दैव. I heard that from for whom it assumes a complete epitome of philosophy. (Incidentally, do you know that fatalism is the only philosophy that is without loopholes, and therefore the most satisfying? About that, in some other mood.). I found a sparkle in it. On some occasions, I imagined some possible situations-अष्वथामा meeting गौतम, and wanted to see the other side. (This bit I published in English too, in 'त्रिवेणी'). On one occasion, I made Jesus meet Judas as a boy. Nothing actually happens here, unless you know the later tragedy. Some moments are thus pregnant, prophetic, or deceptively routine. I wanted to write another Helen in her palace bored with a dull husband like Menalaus always under the thumb of his brother Agamemnon. She is spending a dull, indolent afternoon, when an attendant announces the arrival of a guest named Paris. “O go away, ask him to drown himself.” She cries fretfully. But then remembers her duties as Queen, grumbles about yet another fat dull guest, and gets up! The rest is history. Once I told this outline to पाडगावकर, who shrugged, and said nothing happens here. Something happens later-perhaps in our mind. This is only the first push, but then I realized that the response may not be very easy or common : Some bits were deliberate rhythmic constructions as in 'मत्स्यकन्या'.

The other day राम पटवर्धन wrote me a letter. He had criticized the recent stories of mine in 'सत्यकथा' (one of them only he liked), but said that they are seriously written. Well, I was pleased as Punch, because I crave for that kind of praise only. I write stories for one reason. My present life and equipment allow me only literature. With a different gift I would have been a composer. In some other period of time I would have become a Trappist monk. But with my approach, the journey would have been the same. No, आचवल, you have to forgive me. Literature to me can never be merely anything that has some appeal as pattern, construction or form. Please do not misunderstand me in one detail. Because of this purely, personal attitude, I am not suggesting that my type of literature is, merely because of that, superior to other types. What I am trying to say is, fortunately or unfortunately that is how my zebra looks. As a critic, (and you sure know what a tinsel critic I can become), I value books where this – what shall I say – root approach to life is expressed in an adequate form. I think Kafka's Trial a supremely satisfying book. I like 'रणांगण', but for other reason than yours. I find (to continue) most of the stories written today, not bad (a bad story can be perturbing; one or two novels by Dostoevsky are bad. C'eline is not exactly good. But dash it, even these bad books crush me. Any time, sober or drunk, I would prefer such a bad book to an irrelevant book.) but absolutely irrelevant. The most ridiculous example of complete irrelevance is ना.सी.फडके – an example of hopeless irrelevance and arrested adolescence. This gent liked Vicki Baum, and others of the same tribe thirty years back. At 70, he still considers A.J.Cronin, Baum (thank God, not Daphne de Maurier!) great! He reads book, and admires a descriptive passage. He still counts in quantity. Any time I would prefer 'चंद्रकांत काकोडकर'. At least, he has no pretensions, he does not aim high, and very deliberately, he produces the same formula. Since no loyalties are involved, there is no betrayal – as honest, and as unburdensome as an honest country whore. I am sorry-my stand about literature must have disappointed you, and you exquisite sensibilities. But that is what I am. Writing for me is a kind of repayment of debt to those many characters I have met and have been haunted by. Many of them, I often hate. They have no business to persecute and burden me with their lives. I have my own troubles. Why should i have that burden too? But no. I cannot escape . Some debts I have tried to pay. But like raised ghosts that are not satisfied, many still ride my back. That is due to my inadequate powers too. Take that कावेरी in 'कांकणे'. She herself, escaped through a well – years and years back. Yet I cannot still exercise her. She used to come to our house when I was just a kid. She was extremely poor; always dressed in somebody else's discarded, patched up colourless लूगडे. - Those were days when rice was nineteen शेरs for a rupee. By no shakes, we were well off, but we did eat rice, but she would have been too glad to have rice at least a month. Wet, shining कूंकु- her only ornament, was very thin, small जोडवी on her toes, made in her marriage. I do not remember anything else about her. But she never came to us, without a “present” for me-a small slate pencil, one आवळा or आमसोल, a cut picture from a very, very old book, an aluminum button. Once she stitched a very small bag for me to keep my 'pencils' in. Her husband had vanished, and parents already dead. One day there was hush hush talk in the house. My mother wept for hours together. Later I came to know that she had thrown herself in a big, notorious well in बेळगाव. The red कूंकु mark had never been of any help to her in life, but she had put a little हळद-कूंकु, a little brass बाळकृष्ण (she had brought from her parent's home in marriage) in her पदर. Sometimes when in बेळगाव, I pass by that house, where in a small attic she used to cry. I am actually oppressed, and become numb for a few seconds. I can never pay my debt to her with my pony stories. She will be a life companion. I am sure when it is time for me to go, and when I see faces around me, hers will be one of them. There are a few others, and after a long, patient effort, I have accepted them. You find my stories uncouth, and there are two reasons. First, as I said, they are not purely literary and secondly, I am myself a very uncouth man. Some social niceties bore me to no end. In our staff-room, there are three persons who are with us for four years, and I have not spoken a single word with them. They are stupid toadies, and I do not bother even to say Good morning to them. I never accept any invitations for lectures; I do not attend संमेलन. (Once in Bombay, I attended one gathering incognito when Koestler had come. I met many a famous name, and was bored. Nobody knew me, and I was safe-till I accidentally met गं.बा.गा़मोपाध्ये, and I vanished with a rare alacrity. After my college days, I have never called anybody 'sir'. When our principal was calling the vice-chancellor 'sir', I have talked with him, with only 'you'. (Of course, I have met very few persons whom I would willingly call 'sir'. One such person was an old Brahmin in बेळगाव. He used to come to us for some religious functions. He was extremely gentle in temperament, actually so gentle that, by comparison श्रीपु is a dangerous, vicious Barracuda. This old man had some work in the Revenue office-I think he wanted a copy of some paper, which would hardly have taken twenty minutes-, but he was shunted from one table to another for days together. He dragged himself to the office sixteen times, and then snapped. He borrowed two rupees from me, went again to the office. There he paid to the collector's office peon, and secured entry to the collector himself. There he evoked all the female ancestors of the officer beginning from his mother. On the other side he called various animals which specially included a jackass, a horse and a dog, and continued to express various permutations and combinations sexually between the two sides which would have left de Sade ecstatic. The collector was a मराठी man,and obviously was aware of the verbal orgy opened before him. He paled, and then turned purple, and started shouting that he would send the old man to jail for ten years. श्रीपादभट calmly let down his dhoti, and stood naked before him, and invited him to-well, you know what we ask others to do on such occasions. The officer apparently did not accept the challenge, and the old man came out with all his hirsute properly intact. Well, I raise my hat o the old party,and I certainly will call him 'Sir'. He died a few years back.- Gone, but not forgotten by me (and by the collector).

That was some time back. Later you see, I was fascinated by a strange phenomenon. During dreams, or even in that twilight wakening when sleep has not yet fully gone, I started seeing some patches, that are vivid, strange. They did not mean anything, but I could not forget them at all. They were like fossils embedded in rocks, only more colourful, more haunting to me. But what floored me was, later I found that they did have some sense. Only a little tinkering would be necessary. My aim therefore was to maintain still that fantastic, impalpable, irrational strangeness of a dream patch, attaches to a thin string of a story or a patter. You will not believe it, but many paragraphs I have actually seen, not only in scenes but in words. One strange thing I remember-I wrote one piece called 'सोयरे' in 'प्रतिष्ठान'. It has not been understood by a single normal bloke. I had been to शांतादुर्गा temple in Goa. I was standing on the innumerable steps, waiting for my friends (and keeping an eye on my scooter which-you may not have any such experience in your life-I have purchased with hard-earned honest money.) Then, for one brief moment, the temple remained, but it was a more vivid dream temple, darkness, lepers, faceless persons. This fantasy got combined with a very old memory of a betrayal which one of my friends had experienced years back, (I had not thought of the episode or the friend for years.) and fantastically both combined. I was merely a passive screen for these. The next moment, every thing became clearer, more actual. But the impression was so vivid, that I could write down the whole thing in twenty minutes, after one week. All this, I am merely telling as gossip, and does not mean a damn thing-or it does mean anything, it means only one thing. It explains the nightmare like, irrational atmosphere of many of them. The 'दूत' standing dumb, being flayed-all these too, I saw once vividly. I was not reading any historical book; no Buddhist monks had come in my conscious circle recently. But then there I was-and speechless with astonishment.

'रत्न' too has a little history. Innumerable monoliths standing a burning floor; a single forest, and a tree burning-various jewels-there are patches I had seen at various times. But in this case the tinkering was more deliberate. This is the most pessimistic story I have ever written. Even my other stories are not exactly overflowing with 'खरवसाचा' प्रकाश, but this is certainly the darkest story I have written. I wanted a little showdown with me, and the chips are down.

A journey in search of something is primordial action, and is deeply rooted in mythology and folklore. The Buddha's journey, as well as Quixote's, were the same nature, though with different results. That continues to be vital, because, if we have any sensibility, everyone is on such journey. There is no more fascinating figure for me (except perhaps Prometheus) than the Buddha, but his gentle smirk has often irritated me. I have always wondered-why is he so smug and satisfied about it? Was not there the slightest doubt about his final knowledge under the Bo tree? I want something outside myself, to tell me that what I have got is the real Macoy and not an imitation. But is there any such criterion outside us? It if is, what is it? If it is not, why is the Buddha's knowledge better than Quixote's, or a jaundiced man's yellow vision of the world? (आचवल, have you any time felt that Quixote's is one of the most profoundly moving tragedies in literature? Look at the whole thing from his point of view, and you will feel it. I have seen people roaring with laughter over episode that crush me into utter silence. True, he has not become mad like Lear, wandering on the sands of a storm-tossed sea. But he too was in search of something; he believed he had already found it. The Buddha too found it. My only request is to show one criterion which shows that one was wiser than the other? Suppose, instead of the present, most consistent intense commitment, he had smiled, and shouted that he had ultimately found the Lady, and the castle, in a maid servant and a hovel and explained his quest in ponderous sermons, would he have established a religion?

To me this is a crucial question. On that rests the small foundation of a small life. In what respect is a madman's ecstasy, or a pot-user's psychedelic vision inferior to a mystic's? If there is no criterion, जर रत्नप्राप्ती म्हणजे फक्त द्रुष्टीतला फरक असेल, तर everything is absolutely personal. Do you know what it means? It means that every one of us is a damned (yes damned) Adam, who must live, and suffer, as if nobody has lived before. He has to find his own jewel, nontransferable, and perhaps non existent. His fevers, and frets are strictly non-transferable. It means we will be living in a crowded universe, but every one strictly in his prison, and non-communicado. Pascal was utterly terrified by the immense, eternal silence of the stars. I am not bothered by the stars. I am not going there any time. But this immense silence that has to exist between us-that is the most horrible thing. We cannot even transfer sensuous impressions. I have seen people sitting unaffected before the blazing colours of a Delacrax. If I refer to the yellow colour, they say, yes, it is yellow. But they never see the yellow colour that I see. In addition, if my saying has no grater validity then their, what is the significance even if the possibility is there of communication. We have to go our own way, under a mountain, across an icy stream, all the time paying immense price. And for what? To die with an illusion on the eye without knowing that it is an illusion. Then perhaps, the other villagers were wiser; they did not have vision (it is true), but they did not die a cheated death. Socrates might have said that it is better to be an unhappy man than be a satisfied pig. But that is because there was no pig to answer him back. (I know. You will sneer that I have now filled the vacancy.) The objects around us impenetrable human beings are incommunicable, and yet we have to struggle, forge a road-for what? There is not the slightest guarantee that there is something worth while at the end. There is no assurance that we will get that something. There is every possibility that we may end believing that we have arrived at India, when he have struck a few measly specks of islands. So what should we do? Should we live believing that illusion is reality like Quixote? Or sit on a lotus smiling believing that only शुन्य, that there is nothing, is the only real knowledge? Or is it better to be just a crow, satisfied with a piece of stale bread? If the crow has the last word in life (as it has in the story), there has not been a grater fraud or joke than this. A little jerk, a little see, a long foolish chain of breaths-and lastly a punctured gasp-that is all the ration we get, and we build such pictures out of it.

Then sometimes I used to feel that the past, only the past, is something stable-which is fixed in time, unchangeable. There is no such thing as the present, just as there is not such thing as a straight line that has length but no breadth. The future we have perhaps no control on. (either we have no power to forge it, or it is completely and relentlessly fixed-which means the same thing.) That was another illusion that I had to throw. Most of the things of the past are hearsay, and we have to accept them practically. Theoretically, there is no reason, beyond any doubt, to accept them. The Parthenon, I do not know whether it exist. I have not seen it. I have seen the pictures. But (once again theoretically) it is possible to show hundreds of pictures of buildings, and create and illusion that it is the Parthenon. They I do not know whether it was the old Parthenon. Some practical jokers might have built it a few years back, (like planting the skull of the Pillt-down man.) That is about a building. How about events and persons? Helen and Cleopatra? Alexander the Great? It seems when he perspired, his body smelled of jasmine flowers. Jasmine flowers, my foot, they will tell us next that when he pissed, he pissed only the Evening in Paris. For all we know, Socrates might have been Rapist of children, and therefore was given hemlock. There is nothing wrong in human structure to tell him. Something is undoubtedly true. Even about events that have happened to us, persons we had met, what are our feelings? Compare them what they are today with what they were. It simply means one thing. The past changes as we get along, and to that extent we too are changing. Every day is a birthday and a death-moment. This fascinating idea too I wanted to bring in somewhere. Hence the advice of कृष्णगरूड-भूतकाळाकडे वतमान द्रुष्टीने कधी पाहू नको. (Incidentally, this has landed me in to a strange paradox. I, on one side, believe that the future is inexorable, hard and there is no such thing as freedom. Being what I am-a block weighing say 140 lb;- cannot be a heavy weight boxer; short sighted-cannot be a pilot; no visual gift-cannot be a painter, man-therefore cannot be a woman, cannot be a German, French, Ancient greek, Chengiskhan, a hippopotamus etc. I was brought in a particular way, and subject to certain influences. I am unique, and therefore the future will be as inevitable as the past. On the other hand, I believe that every time, the past is reborn, If the future is fixed, then that also is reborn-which means it is not fixed! Or does it mean there are different pasts and different futures? Nice lump of goo in which to get struck up!) foolish!

Lastly there was a brief (and as I now see it) attempt to create a bit of a myth in कृष्णगरूड. Everything is created, and destroyed with a whistle. It is so casual, and light hearted. But the destroying whistle cannot hear itself; Besides is the Creator always happy? Is the Destroyer always condemned to destroy?

All this I have said, not because this makes the story more significant than before. If a story does not hit you like a slap, it is dead, and no amount of commentary can make is alive. But one thing I have learned. I published these stories in satykathaa, प्रतिष्ठान, because they have a reader group which is serious. I pressed this सुगंध story on you (I rarely do that)-all for one reason. I wanted to have some random reactions. They are all negative. It means one thing. Whatever be the value of these strange, dream fragments, they are significant for me only. There is no point in publishing them. It is like publishing a personal expense account. Nobody else will care a damn. But it is equally true that I must write the remaining fragments too. I was not a little surprised that you liked 'dut'. For me, it is a slight, slick, though the idea of a messenger who becomes suddenly dump, has possibilities.

The कृष्णगरूड solved the problem. And I could sympathize with his last request-सांग तो ध्वनी कसा असतो? And he is making that request who has to end with an illusion of a jewel. The गरूड wants to hear, and the man wants to possess! It requires a mind of great caliber to create a myth, (Nobody knows it better that I do), but then, I respect this dictum too much. I need not write at all. If only good looking persons should wear cloths, I will have to go naked (or only good looking persons should not wear cloths?)