Me and Uncle Pai
Today I was going through some old manuscripts and correspondence from the days when I was an active writer of stories for children. I was pleasantly surprised to find myself smile and laugh at stuff I had myself written: I used to be good.
I found several letters, some of acceptance, some rejection slips, from the late editor of TINKLE and the creator of Amar Chitra Katha - Anant Pai or Uncle Pai. When Uncle Pai passed away in February this year, I was so busy with some stuff going on at work, that I might not have spent more than a minute in total thinking about it. Even when my mother commented about it over phone, I only said "yes, I read". Well, such is the pace of the rat race.
Anant Pai always manually signed his letters, and sometimes added a personal note. "I have been to TVM several times" he wrote on an acceptance letter, when I was in Trivandrum, "Next time I am in TVM I will get in touch with you." On another occasion rejecting a story called 'Big Bang' he wrote "Science fiction cannot ignore well known and established scientific fact." Accepting my last story, he said that my English was very good. A couple of years into work in Bangalore I was vaguely considering doing an internship at TINKLE in Mumbai. Never got around to doing it, but I did correspond with them, and even spoke to Uncle Pai over phone!
I am sure the great man had time and words for several several people, but I feel privileged to have 'known' him through his brief notes. It was a lot of fun growing up and learning to read and write with TINKLE. I am sure the magazine will be the poorer without his sensitive touch - but I hope not.