Niranjan Navalgund



Niranjan Navalgund


The Writer

The Writer

11 mins

26 August, 1975

This was one of the most unusual cases I had ever come across in my life. The writer’s case was vague. He lived alone and his close ones lived in different cities. I found a few work-in-progress projects, but they were not relevant to the case. I found two envelopes though – one in his drawer and the other on the death scene. The post-mortem did not reveal anything. An instant heart failure? Not convincing enough. He died seconds after the paper-boy handed the letters to him and left. Strangely, he died before opening the letter itself. The envelope dated a few weeks before the writer’s death was empty. The second had a letter, reading:

19 April, 1974.

Salaam Alaykum, Writer,

    I thank you for your work. I knew very well that you were capable of writing my destiny. The last line of your letter revealed the cost of my life.  I have a feeling that this letter might not reach you, but this is an attempt.

Warm regards,
your reader


    Complex, albeit intriguing. I felt I had to go to the reader’s house to investigate further. The address on the cover led me to an apartment named Aradhna – Block C, House 201. 

    A youngish, fair-skinned woman, possibly early thirties, opened the door. Sexist, but my experience in graphology kicked in just as she answered.

    “Namaste, I am Detective Abhinav, investigating the writer’s case,” I greeted her, then showed her the letter. “Did you write this?”

    A flash of recognition, but for just a spilt second. She nodded slightly. “Ah. Yes. Do come in.”

    As she let me in, I observed her. I could see something in her eyes. It had confidence. As in, “I’ve just won a battle” confidence, but there was no mistaking the hint of pain betwixt. There was something enduring about her personality, and I’d only met her for a few brief minutes. She was an attractive woman, perhaps past the peak of her beauty, but as of yet, not far past. She wore a bandanna over her brow, a faded lilac blouse over jeans, no socks, no shoes. She wore no makeup save for lipstick, a smudge of which had strayed from the outline of her mouth. I watched as she took a seat on the saffron-upholstered couch across from me.

    “Yes, I wrote that letter. I read what happened. It is sad, but this was probably inevitable,” she affirmed, shrugging.

“Can you show me his last letter?” I asked. I was curious about the last line.

She excused herself, leaving the room. She returned with two white envelopes, handing them to me. “He sent back the letter I sent, along with his reply.”

    “Alright. I will have to read your letter first.” I reopened one of the envelopes carefully, taking out the letter, then put it down beside me and open the second envelope to find the letter she wrote. “Sorry, but why have you written a few words with a different coloured pen?” I inquired, looking up from the paper in my hands.

    “To call for attention, Detective. I’ll explain shortly. This letter is the best piece I have ever written. It’s my tribute to him.” Her eyes lit up as she said this.

    “Why did you decide to send him a handwritten letter? Couldn’t you have just emailed him?”

    She smiled knowingly. “He was a graphologist, Detective. As well as a handwriting analyst.”

    He too? So that was deliberate. I decide to not cut her flow of speech, simply nodding.

    “Each highlighted word refers to something,” she continued.

    “What might that be?” I cocked my head to the side a little.

    “His books! Reading the letter and his corresponding reply will clear everything up for you.”

    I turned back to the letter sitting on my lap.


4 April, 1974.


Salaam Alaykum, Writer,


    I would like you to co-author my story. Yes, God invites us all to co-author our stories with him. In my case, I have been a little unfortunate. On one hand, fortunate because I am inviting you to write my destiny. Your stories have always excited me; they contain life, often embellished with unusual beginnings, fast tracked between and dazzling endings. Apologies for coming to the subject directly, but that is how you want everything to be – to the point. I’m fed up with the predictable days, normal routines and never-ending cycle of bizarre to dos. Plot the dots for me so that I could connect them and make my life meaningful. Introduce me to a ‘disconnect’ option in life. I can always ‘connect’ later. But, this monotonous connection is burdening my soul.

    I cannot write my story because I cannot imagine. I have lost that power. Your stories tell me that the power lies within, but where is it? I am dying to know. My ‘within’ is so shallow. No, I am not scared. This den is pretty comfortable. Although, I must admit that tears often well up when they are least welcomed. Change the way this works. Please?

    Distance is a deadly view. It only gives ideas about limitations and my soul cannot really focus on the positives. Probably, because I’m not an athlete to be comfortable with the distance between the starting line and the finishing line.  Bring him to me or take me to him. Yes, give it a fairy-tale flavor.
    Complaints, too many complaints need attention. Get some zamzam and pour it into the mouths of these people. No, I am not complaining. I am just bringing it to your notice. I know you are too strong to be sensitive and well equipped to play with your characters according to your whims and fancies. I choose you to write my story for a reason.
    Karma, is sharing world-wide fame with a disguised title ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ that needs magical change. One cannot go back and change it, but the future remains to be told. I understand that you cannot change the story of Hazel and Gus but there has to be a change in the trend. Now, an opportunity to tell a happy tale to the world! A happy tale. The world needs more stories that steer us towards happy endings. A doubt has cropped in and I cannot confront it openly. I have managed to suppress it, because that is the only way. I cannot afford to edit this letter. Quoting from your own book: ‘First visuals, final visuals’, I want this letter to look clean, legible. The conflict was about who needs the happy tale. I instantly wrote that the world needs more stories, but that may not be true. So, let me rephrase it for you: write a happy tale, because I need it. Lead me to a better destination. I know I am trying to convey the same thing in different ways. I hope you get the intensity.
    Meditate. Enter your inner sanctum. Pray to Him above. Write. Do whatever possible and create my destiny. You have the power to create my destiny. You truly do. Battle with this uncertainty. Unleash your potential. Your win will make things certain. May the right letters form the necessary words to make amazing sentences to enlighten the readers!
    Embrace yourself, I don’t mind. Thank your stars.  I am not bothered about the possible conflicts you might have with God with respect to my story. My faith is on you, because God has not impressed me yet. You have. Unlike other writers that I have read, stories run your life and not the money that jogs with it. If you are wondering about the returns, then I have already gifted you something so precious. My Time, an existing but ever-slippery treasure.  You love your readers, don’t you? You enjoy playing God’s role in deciding the roles of your characters. Here is a chance. Decide mine. Book a date with God and co-author my story. This is not a request, but a demand. I read that you are willing to do anything for the sake of your readers. Thank me for giving you an opportunity to make a beautiful soul’s life purposeful. Don’t forget this.

Warm regards,
your reader

I looked up at her as she tended to a glass of wine. She returned my gaze seconds later.
    “Read his reply, and I will explain the relevance wherever necessary,” she said.

13 April, 1974.

Dear skillful reader,

    I am answering you the way you wanted me to answer…
    The protagonists of my first novel deserved a happy ending. The inspiration for that story came to me while I was going through a tough period in my life. The period had some influence over the fate of my heroes. Some stories are beautiful because they are incomplete.

    “Stop,” she suddenly said, and I looked up. “Let me explain now. The first novel was about the two lovers who never meet. Their telephonic conversations are impressive. In the first paragraph, I managed to touch upon his novel and convey my message. Continue now.” She nodded her head, and I turned back to the letter.

There are times when everything seems blur. The monk in the story wants you to find your answers, independently. Do not deal with every problem emotionally. Use logic when necessary.  Now, you have the key to change!

    “The second was a short novel about a confused teenager. She is too scared to admit that she is depressed. A part of story provides answers to the seekers, but it is way too complex. I wanted him to explain it in simple terms and he did.”
    Crazy people, profound writing. ‘What in holy heck has this got to do with his death?’ I wondered. Patience, Augustus. It’s all connected. I thought it better to leave it to time to reveal the connections.

You will have to wait for your story to turn into a fairy tale. Patience, the basic ingredient. You know the ingredient. It’s free. Use it.

    “Here, the message was clear. I wanted a solution to the problem of distance. The first few lines were from his novel again.”

Focus on doing your bit, focus on the solutions. If you focus on complaints, more will follow. You be the change and don’t fret. Mere complaining won’t solve issues. Zamzam is a metaphor in my novel. Your good deed could be zamzam to the society.

    It may sound odd, but all the novels are close to my heart. The fourth novel is about a social issue. I conveyed my weariness through these lines. It was daunting to hear complaints and people complaining all the time. Here, he mildly attempted to answer me.”

The Gita has all the answers. Your past is deeply connected to your present. Leaping ahead, let me remind you that God has installed a wall. Even, he knows that the memories of a previous birth contain venom. In the end, we’re all happy stories. If not, then wait… the end will begin soon.

There are certain portions in his fifth novel. Karma. That are deep, too deep. I have highlighted those words and he managed to understand the connection and clear my doubts.”
    “Hang on,” I interrupted her. ‘Which happy tale are you talking about?”
    “I wanted him to help me. He promised to fulfill the demands of his readers. His words had magic. It transformed lives,” she replied, and I nodded. 
    “Okay then.” I continued to read.

And thank you! Your words have pushed me further. I will see to that everybody wins. You. Me. God.

“The next few lines are personal. I wished him best in his next endeavor which, turns out, was his final.” She emptied her glass.
    The puzzle lacked the final piece.

I had a conversation with God. He was kind enough to play the visuals of future in my dreams. Everything is supposed to fit well. I am grateful to you for having come to me with this proposal. I accept this.
    Alas, I have very little ink left in my pen. But don’t worry. This is a win-win situation. My moments are numbered for a reason. Your letter came to me at the right time though. Coincidence? Yes, and no. I will be merging with Him for your story to be manifested. It is up to you to act accordingly.
    I hope the answers in this response will serve you the dots you needed. I was awaiting your letter. My time has come. I wish you luck.

“And I hope that clears it all. He was suffering from something that had no cure. In one of his stories, he writes about scheduling death. The change in my handwriting in the second letter and the relief that his letter had reached me allowed him to leave in peace,” she finished, tightening the bandanna’s knot at the back of her head.
    I slipped both letters back in their envelopes as I stood up and shake her hand. I departed shortly afterwards, my mind racing with thoughts as I made my way down the crowded, sunlit street. Shops must be opening now, if not already. I watched a group of boys walk down the road, dodging a vendor. A boy swiftly nicked an apple from his stall as the vendor turned his attention to a man in the corner, at the risk of getting his hand cut off.
    The writer recognized positive changes in the reader’s handwriting that was visible on the cover. He was holding on to his life and he left when his purpose was served. According to her, the writer has now agreed to write her story. In fact – this very moment is being scrawled down somewhere. She believed that life is changing for good. Some beliefs make our lives. Who knows?
    I leave the truth to you. I cannot explain this case. It’s simply, quite too different.


Niranjan Navalgund

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