Writer at work: Before and after
A minor character claims his place
Published: December 2, 2005
From an early draft of Darjeeling comes this paragraph, in which my protagonist Aloka remembers the man with whom she once had a brief relationship.
In the early morning hours, when dreams are fragmented like scattered pieces of a broken tile, Aloka heard the sound of soft rain and an exuberant laugh--Jahar's laugh.
Then Aloka goes about her business, forgetting her dream, forgetting Jahar. He doesn't appear in the rest of the chapter, his importance in her life thereby curtailed.
Now look at the published version of Darjeeling, in which the supporting player returns to claim his place more permanently and the paragraph above is expanded. Aloka wakes, calls Jahar from India and, at the end of a long conversation, they decide to get back together.
As she listened, she pictured herself next to him and surrendered to a new kind of emotion; not what she had once felt for Pranab--gigantic, overwhelming, dizzying love--but rather a gentle and deep caring, interwoven with life's everyday details. She looked around the room and noticed how the ordinary furniture and knick-knacks had sprung to life and become one-of-a-kind.