The Revised Kama Sutra

The Revised Kama Sutra
The Viking Penguin hardcover first edition

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Strange World of an Indian Bestselling Author

From The Killing of an Author, published in paper and on Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, Nook, etc. Selected passages from one of the book's most important chapters.


An Author Is Born

The Strange World of A Bestselling Indian Author



In October 1993, I jetted off to India to work on the final edit of my novel with Penguin India. Penguin’s editor David Davidar hadn’t returned my manuscript with his editorial comments yet, and I was getting nervous about the first and only book contract I had ever signed.
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So what is Jackie Kennedy’s connection with the novel? The dashing John F. Kennedy is the boyhood hero of the Indian protagonist, who also admires his wife Jackie by extension. After JFK is assassinated, he writes letters to his widow Jackie Kennedy, who later marries Onassis; the letters are at first naïve and innocently funny, but later, as the protagonist becomes an adult, the letters become cockily confident and slyly mischievous. And the older Jackie Onassis also appears in the role of a Doubleday editor in one scene in which she has a telephone conversation with the novelistic narrator. David’s request that I delete the Jackie section came attached to an intriguing appeal: “You are going to be internationally famous,” he said. Being a novice and a naïf, I thought that this was simply a tactful way of saying my book was good, and that as I was going to be "internationally famous," I could afford to dispense with the Jackie reference.

What I didn’t relate this remark to at the time was David Davidar’s close friendship with Sonny Mehta, his regarding the latter as a patron and a mentor. And what never crossed my mind was that there could be an unstated “Or else” element to the request. (As in “Or else, we shall see that you don’t make it; or else, you may not be internationally famous.”)

For it was only about two years later, at a party at the Indian Consulate General in New York to which I was accidentally invited, that I, the naïf, saw the immortal Jackie Kennedy in person. She was engaged in conversation with a group of three other people, and though I was only seven feet away from her as a sober mosquito flies, my attempts to catch her eye (I don’t remember for what purpose) were futile; it was as if there was an invisible steel shield protecting the group, so strong was her determination not to be disturbed by anyone she hadn’t invited to participate in the conversation. I remember, too, that there seemed to be some hollowness, some strange chemical decomposition in progress; the face lacked organic completeness, it lacked its former beauty and suppleness. And the hairdo looked extremely stiff and artificial. It would be only years later that I would divine the reason for this: she was probably already suffering from cancer at this time.

Jackie had come because the party was in honor of Naveen Patnaik, the scion of a near-royal dynasty in India, the featured author of a book about Indian herbs, the book’s editor at Doubleday being: Jackie Kennedy! Naveen Patnaik also happened to be Gita Mehta’s brother and Sonny Mehta’s brother-in-law. So Jackie, as editor of Doubleday, had acquired and was publishing Sonny’s brother-in-law’s book. Sonny and Jackie must therefore be close friends.

So then, this was the “problem” that restrained Sonny from publishing the book, the “problem” that Sonny had tried to get David Davidar to use his influence to correct? All of this took me some more time to figure out; I was just then busy speaking with the singer Carly Simon (whose “Waterfall” and “You’re So Vain” I had loved in my mid-twenties), who was telling two or three of us how a house reminds you of the person who lived there (her ex-husband and singer James Taylor, whose “Mexico” and “Gorilla” I had listened to on my car stereo as a twenty-five-year-old dating my future wife). When someone mentioned Sonny Mehta, Carly asked to be introduced to him (she was planning to write a book); but I could hardly claim to be in such good terms with Sonny! Indeed, I sought out Sonny Mehta a bit later and handed him my defiant Invisible Man Press business card, one imprinted with an image of the Statue of Liberty, and told him, “If you know of any brave writers, send them to me!” He didn’t take it too badly, and I am happy to say that he said, at least once, “Of course I feel for your pain!”

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Finally the book was finished, and it included a strong, in-your-face Prologue, a political manifesto on behalf of invisible Third World writers, a manifesto demanding equal freedom and incorporating The Invisible Man Press:

“It is true that I, the author, have registered a publishing company in the United States called the Invisible Man Press because I felt that it was time for us Indians (including those of Indian origin — one-sixth of humankind) in this postcolonial age to feel free to say absolutely whatever we wanted to say, without censorship of any kind, real or imagined.”

The Prologue went on to suggest that censorship of Third World voices occurred discreetly in a democracy like the U.S., and that Western publishing was a very effective tool of this censorship. Briefly, the Prologue’s message was: We are equal citizens of Republic Earth, so please, no double standards, no paternalistic rules or prohibitions.

What chutzpah, I think now, looking back on what I did, for a brown writer living a marginal literary existence in the West to start his first novel with an attack on Western publishing, literary colonialism, and apartheid, and his first chapter with a blast at British colonialism and one of its staunch defenders, Winston Churchill! Rather than waiting, as Arundhati Roy later did, to first make her millions and establish her power base in the West, and then to choose causes that would make her the darling of liberals. (How this passage must have reddened the face of Peter Mayer, Penguin’s worldwide head, who received a copy of the novel from David Davidar shortly thereafter, and did nothing about it.) But I was young, green, hopeful, and proud, and didn’t know that there were no prizes set aside and waiting, in the West-dominated literary world, for Indian writers with balls, for unsuitable brown boys. (If there was to be a prize, I would have to institute it myself ... and I actually started planning for it  — “The Invisible Man Press Award for a Courageous Indian Writer” — but could not follow through because of too many commitments and too few resources.)

But my Penguin India editor David Davidar’s enthusiasm, the feeling that fame — or some sort of explosion (David’s prediction of the novel “taking India by storm”) — was around the corner made me decide, with finality, to ask that my on-again, off-again resignation from the Indian Administrative Service, until now my ticket to security and comfort and status for life in India, be made permanent and irrevocable.

....

Still, 1993 ended better than any other year in recent times. I had an eloquently flattering offer from the editor-in-chief of Fourth Estate, a prestigious British publisher — fulsome in its verbal praise though Scottish in its fiscal prudence. And my novel had finally been born in India: quietly, a couple of days before Christmas, the acknowledgments page expressing my gratitude to the late Seymour Krim, Tim O’Brien, and John Irving for their encouragement. No reviews had come in yet, but in the next few months the book would receive an avalanche of attention, often vindicating my point that the book had expressed the hitherto unexpressed feelings of the “Indian Everyman,” a silent but vast middle class of small town Indians which Westerners and Western journalists never met or truly understood, because of the Great Toilet Paper Barrier (they didn’t socialize with the 99% of Indians whose homes did not have Western toilets and toilet paper), and because they were too busy skimming the cream off the fat cats of the land and/or living the white sahib lifestyle.

But at least my publisher had sent me the jackets two weeks before publication. So we celebrated the birth of my unseen book: I and most of forty other friends of mine and my wife’s gathered for what was probably the most ecstatic party of my life, whose announced purpose was to celebrate our fifteenth wedding anniversary. A party during which I, spontaneously bursting into song to the tune of Tommy, the musical, sang, “I’m Free!!” Once the book had been published in India, once it had “taken India by storm” as my Penguin editor-in-chief had predicted, it would probably be only a matter of time before it took the world by storm.

In the next two months, the reviews came, a deluge of hugely favorable reviews (and four ferociously hostile ones), and the relatively high-priced hardcover (for an unknown Indian author’s first novel) sold like a bestseller, was in furious demand. I reached Delhi around the beginning of February 1994, and remember being miffed that, while there was a nationwide publicity campaign for The Suitable Boy at the same time, there was not even a tiny Penguin party to celebrate my book’s launch. And even though David introduced me to his company’s director saying “He is one of our stars,” I thought, somehow, that my novel had been demoted in his eyes. From now on, it was reviews and word of mouth that got the book going.

Word of mouth, and also the passion of a few people who had read the book. One was a Mangalorean (from my home town, but unknown to me personally) who bought ten copies and passed it around to people, saying, “Take this book, you must read it!” Another was Tarun Tejpal, future mega-journalist and future author of the sexually insatiable novel, The Alchemy of Desire, who at the time was the 30-year-old books editor of India Today, the Time Magazine of India. He told me he was unhappy that his staffer Madhu Jain’s review had not been enthusiastic enough, that if he had known, he would have written the review himself. At this point I confessed to him that a certain newspaper reviewer had panned my novel. He was furious, picked up the phone, and told somebody, “That f****r gave Richard’s novel a bad review!” I was touched that he was so passionate on my behalf, but was rather taken aback at the somewhat undemocratic ferocity of his passion — which, I would realize later, was something that could turn against me with great fury when he saw that I had been lukewarm about a future literary darling of his. Later, he invited me to his home for lunch, and we met on and off for the next three years.

It was also a treat to visit India’s megacolumnist and super-prolific author Khushwant Singh at his residence in Sujaan Singh Park. Because he had taken a stand against the independent Sikh state demanded by a radical armed group, he had to be guarded by armed bodyguards all the time. This necessitated the frisking of visitors.

When I met him, surprised by his diminutive figure, his first remark was, “You are late.” And then Khushwant, never a man to beat about the bush, posed his first question to me. He said, with almost little-boy curiosity and excitement in his face, “Is it true that you have these permanent erections?”

I laughed, and don’t remember if I even tried to answer the question.

....
Also, a Valium-sedated I appeared on a widely viewed prime time national television show along with a popular Hindi movie star, Shatrughan Singha, and the newly crowned Miss India, Sushmita Sen. A list of questions had helpfully been provided to me in advance, and my canned American standup comedy-style replies, delivered with the funereal gravity of an excessively sedated demi-corpse, included this silly reply to the standard “Is it autobiographical?” question: “If I said it was, I might have scores of women lining up at my door by tomorrow morning.”

The interview added to my face recognition at airports and such — and even at the India Coffee House in Bangalore — at least for a few weeks after that. India had only three national television channels at the time, and paid a lot of attention to the Miss India contest and to movie stars like Shatrughan Sinha, so perhaps at least thirty million Indians watched this show. In Mangalore, people I had never known introduced me around as a “celebrity,” not because they had read my novel (a few may have skimmed through it), but purely because I had spent twenty minutes or so in the company of a famous movie star and of the newly crowned Miss India, Sushmita Sen, who was shortly to be crowned Miss Universe and become a Bollywood film star herself.

During that year, there were perhaps forty reviews or interviews relating to the novel published in major newspapers and magazines. These included a nearly full-page interview in the venerable Calcutta Statesman, a cover-page photograph and story in the Calcutta Telegraph’s Sunday Magazine, a television interview from the Australian Broadcasting Service. Considering all of this, most contemporary observers who thought of this novel as one of the most talked about and biggest novels of 1994 would be surprised to hear how few copies actually got to readers — well, at least in proportion to the coverage. Why?

Because strange things were happening. 

....
....
In a place like Mangalore, as a result of the paucity of copies, the same copy got passed around from person to person, one person telling me seventeen people had borrowed and read his copy. I kept thinking that something had happened to David’s loyalty to the book too, either on account of my refusal to delete the Jackie Kennedy reference, or perhaps because of Peter Mayer’s response, or because in an interview, I had made lukewarm comments about Vikram Seth, an author adored by David Davidar as a personal friend. Shortly after that, in September 1994, once the Booker Prize had been announced, I published one of my most fiery satires in India Today, calling it “Dodging the Booker” — a piece I have reproduced in its entirety in Impressing the Whites, published in 2000. It was unlikely that any good friend of Vikram Seth, let alone the ultra-loyal David Davidar, would remain my friend after that: that’s the way many an Indian mind works, on the principle of loyalty, loyalty to the Great, meaning to the Celebrated, such loyalty trumping their loyalty or even their ethical obligations to ordinary, everyday friends, friends who are mere mortals. And also on the principle that if you speak in less than favorable terms about my friend or my idol, even if you are legitimately and democratically expressing your sincere opinion on his literary work, you then become my enemy.

If I needed a hint that I had fallen out of favor, it came in this form: his offer that I write a preface to Penguin’s book of nude photographs of Indian women, the photographer being Prabhuda Dasgupta, was suddenly and mysteriously withdrawn. Besides losing the opportunity to be between the [book] covers along with scores of luscious Indian beauties with not a stitch on, I had lost one of my greatest champions barely a year after I had acquired him.

....

And once I published my next book, Beauty Queens, Children and the Death of Sex (HarperCollins India, 1997), with more fiery writings in it (a reference to “bejeweled hijras of the Empire, the poster boys of literary colonialism” must have been particularly outrageous to many Indians whose attitudes were more of feudal respect and awe towards the mighty than a mindset that welcomed challenges, contradictions, and fresh viewpoints, in the belief that the more diverse the perspectives, the richer the debate), I never received another invitation from David Davidar for a meal (which was a pity, for he always ate exceedingly well, his meals deliciously varied and spiced just right). Indeed, I had by then already demanded and taken back my rights to The Revised Kama Sutra from him, as a result of which the book was declared as out of print; and when the few remaining copies quickly sold out, the book was out of circulation in India, the land of its birth, and remained so for the next nine years.

Penguin had done well by my book, the cheaply produced hardcover selling out without even a simple tea and samosa launch for a dozen people. In effect, they had published the book royalty-free, because I paid the tight-fisted Fourth Estate a thousand dollars (or nearly the equivalent of my total royalties from Penguin) for some corrections and changes which I had requested, and which it outsourced or Bangalored to Penguin India. At that time, according to my estimate, the Indian labor costs to insert those changes could not have cost Penguin more than about twenty dollars. But because of my action, from now on, I and the physically vanished book would have to survive in hostile territory filled with enemies, and only a few principled people and individual readers who continued to love it and sometimes tried to seek out second-hand copies of it.

.. (Please read the rest in The Killing of an Author.)


Monday, January 12, 2015

Rethinking My Blog, Satire, and Brownboys.com

As mentioned in an earlier post, it's a challenge to manage multiple blogs, a website, as well as publish a variety of books on around eight different platforms, complete around ten books in progress ... and survive. My blogs sometimes need 5-10 edits, and more time than I can afford (and they still don't reflect the REAL ME the way my books do). So I will limit my blogging, while also increasingly giving larger excerpts from my books--including full chapters. So that, even if my books are not purchased, someone reads them (and perhaps continues to read them when I am gone).

I might also think of making available, to serious and dedicated readers, a few of my best unpublished blogs in the form of books published on Amazon, Apple, etc., or send them the files in return for a small payment. (Please consider this as your gift to my Independent Writer's Support Fund.)

To my genuine readers and well-wishers: please visit http://www.richardcrasta.com/links for latest information, and also my various e-book platforms and paperback books: You may notice, that due to my current semi-censored status, a few of my paperbacks are not easily available on many platforms; if so, some of them can be directly ordered from here:
http://bit.ly/CrastaCS

Meanwhile, for anyone interested in a satirical or political website, a powerful domain name is currently in my possession: brownboys.com .  As a political or free expression website, it could be used to publish the content of writers who are brown, but whose point of view is not being heard, or heard clearly enough as a group (as I edit this, an Indian grandfather is paralyzed because some white American mistook him for a 30-year-old black man who might hurt his wife, and the policeman had absolutely no clue that this was a harmless old man from a foreign country). As a satirical or humorous website, or even a commercial website addressed to a particular ethnic group, it has many, many possibilities. I would be happy to sell it for the right price to help fund my books in progress. Please contact me at rc@richardcrasta.com

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Discovering My Father's Story: Eaten by the Japanese, the Memoir of an Unknown Indian Prisoner of War

What I present to you is two stories. One is of a simple Indian soldier from a village near Mangalore, one who, according to his brother Louis, "never got into a fight with anybody"--finding himself in the most brutal war in history, World War II, and being taken prisoner by a fellow Asian army--the Japanese Army, which treats thousands of Indian prisoners with a  brutality that results in higher mortality rates for them than for POWs of the Nazis. And then, after a miraculous survival, comes home to write his story, which is forgotten, perhaps scorned by his feudal superiors.

The second story is of a son discovering his father's story even as his father is 86 years old, and feeble enough as to leave the world at anytime--and being so moved by it as to be compelled to publish it and to give it to the world.  It is a story about fathers and sons, part of the universal story that will never end, and will never cease to have fascination (incidentally, there is a strong father-son theme in my novel, "The Revised Kama Sutra"--the final scene of the novel, before the Epilogue, combines reconciliation with acceptance).

I presented the book to my surprised father at his 50th wedding anniversary--the emotional story is told in the book. He died 2 years later, and though the Indian Army Chief, General Malik, in 2000, received the book with honor at a personal presentation (he had read it), it was forgotten or not properly distributed after a couple of months.

So, in about the 2nd week of March 2011, as his 101st birth anniversary approached, it became imperative for me to present the book in a more accessible form (it has no distribution),  as an ebook, on what would have been his 101st birthday.

The book (3rd edition), is now in e-book form on Amazon (and all other platforms, and also in paperback from Createspace.com & amazon). But here, below, are a few excerpts from the book, which are possibly inadequate. The book is up at: http://amzn.to/eWVexV

EATEN BY THE JAPANESE: THE MEMOIR OF AN UNKNOWN INDIAN SOLDIER
by John Baptist Crasta, edited with an introduction and 3 essays by Richard Crasta


From the Acknowledgments:
The author, and his son and publisher, wish to acknowledge the help of the Japanese and others who helped the author during the War, including those who restrained themselves from eating the author, thus making this narrative possible.

From the Biographical Introduction by Richard Crasta (regarding his father’s humiliating poverty as a child):
It is harder for a rich man to enter Heaven than for a camel to enter the eye of a needle, or so the Bible says; but it was always pretty easy for a rich man to enter St. Aloysius College and its high school, and to escape the whipping the padres gave to the fiscally and morally unlucky. After all, the college towered over property donated by the local squire, its chapel being a magnet, every Sunday, for the town's cream of Catholic society. My father, though not one of India’s wretched poor, was consigned by his family income to its struggling lower middle class. And often, because he had not paid his two-rupee monthly school fees on time, he was kicked out of his St. Aloysius High School classes by the Italian Jesuits who were then in charge.

From “The Torture Ship” (chapter of main book):
Slowly and more slowly it sailed on, heading for the south, and our ordeal worsened as hours passed. Heat, suffocation, stench, thirst. We were allowed a handful (hardly two ounces) of cooked rice and a little dry fish and a cup of water twice daily. The Japanese said if we ate more in the ship, we would fall ill as we were not doing any fatigue. We did not worry much about the quantity of food. We would not have minded even if we were not given any; but with the two cups of water supplied per day, one might die of thirst. We tried to go on the deck to have a breath of fresh air for which we longed so much; but the moment we climbed up the staircase, we would be kicked down by the Japanese sentries.

From “The Second Voyage of the Torture Ship”:
Could humanity be degraded to such an extent? Could Providence be as cruel? The steamer had only one kitchen from which water was being rationed, and the two thousand men had to come one after the other, in a line, for that cup of life-preserving liquid. The rush began at 6 am. My turn came at about 10 am, after four hours of waiting, only to be met with the curt words, “Water finished!” Heavens, what was I to do until next day? Who knows? Before I could reach the front of the line, water might be exhausted again next day? Death was certain. I went round with a cup to my Indian friends, to Malays, even to Japanese, and was met with the reply “Sorry, I have very little.”

From “The Second Voyage of the Torture Ship”:
Dysentery broke out on the ship. The few latrines were being used by both unfit and fit men. In our own party of one hundred and fifty, three or four deaths occurred daily. The corpses were wrapped in a worn-out blanket and lowered into the deep ocean, unwept for and unsung. I could see hardy men prostrate with dysentery, unable to move, without any clothes. The Japanese did not pay any heed to what was going on. Dysentery spread to other holds of the ship, killing seven to eight daily. But the ship was not stopped, nor was an attempt made to evacuate the victims.
Insanitation and squalor increased. There had been cases of men dying from dysentery within a day of getting sick. Except for separate accommodation being allowed, no treatment was given to the men, and the disease spread anyway. The scene was pitiful and heart-rending. Brave, virile soldiers who would have defied anybody in battle were now helpless like babies and were groaning and rolling naked on the floor presenting a weird spectacle. I could not bear it and tears started trickling from my eyes as nothing in my life had moved me to that extent. Was this the penalty we were paying for being honest and principled?

From “Koga the Devil”:
The next day, another Japanese soldier, Koga Hugcho, was put in charge of us. I call him Koga the Devil. I still cannot forget his Satanic face nor forget his atrocities. If anyone deserves to be hanged first for the ill-treatment of prisoners, it is he. A man of about 30 years, quite well-built, with slant eyes and an ape’s mouth with a gold tooth, he looked like a mixture of Japanese and Chinese, a most unprincipled and inhumane brute. Although he said he belonged to Tokyo, I am inclined to think he was either a Taiwanese or a Manchurian.

The next three months that we passed with him were the bitterest of our lives. Our daily routine was: rise at 4 am, go to the surrounding jungle and fetch two or three loads of firewood; breakfast (two spoonfuls of rice) at 5.30, off to the tapioca garden at 6 am, cut grass till 11 with half an hour’s break, return for lunch; half an hour’s break, again off to the garden, back by 4 PM; fill a fifty-five gallon drum with water and boil it ready for our master’s bath; again collect two or three loads of firewood. Thus were we kept busy from before daybreak to sunset. In addition, each of us was called upon by him to help the Japanese cook in preparing the morning food—in which case, we were required to get up at 2 am. Fire had to be lit to boil rice, curry and water. The firewood was invariably damp and gave out clouds of smoke, completely blinding our eyes. If the fire was not lighted, the Japanese cook would curse us and even beat us. Food had to be ready before daybreak so that the raiders might not notice the smoke. By now, the planes had no targets left. They would watch for any signs of smoke and let go their deadly bombs.

During fatigue, if Koga thought our speed was not up to his expectations, he would beat us with sticks, fists, and kicks. He said that Indians, like the British, were lazy and were not fit to live. They knew only to enjoy. That is why they were being defeated. He told us the Allied Navy had been completely annihilated near Formosa and in the Philippines. Land fighting was going on in the latter place, and the Japanese were winning. There was no chance of our returning to India. We would remain there in New Britain and cultivate tapioca.

In the evenings, even in heavy rain, the Japanese made us boil water for their bath. This was almost an impossibility as the fireplace and firewood became wet. But there was no argument with our masters.

Our hut was more like a pandal[16]. Even in a light rain, water trickled inside. It was infested with rats, mosquitoes, ants, lizards and snakes. Had the Japanese given us half a day’s rest, we could have improved it, but even on our so called holidays, they made us collect coconuts and extract oil for them!

I had a relapse of malaria. Koga allowed me rest as long as my temperature was on; but as soon as he felt my forehead cool, he would ask me to work. To make matters worse, an ulcer appeared on my right foot. The wound broadened, giving out pus and a horrible smell. The leg swelled, and I could not walk. No arrangement was made for dressing the wound. Not even a piece of linen was given. I tore my langoti[17], dressed the ulcer in filthy water from the nullah, and bandaged it in a dirty rag. Flies swarmed around the wound. Blood trickled down sometimes. The Japanese saw this, but were not moved with compassion. Koga said it was a trifling thing and asked me to go on fatigue. I could only walk with the help of crutches. Other Japanese who saw me on the way thought I deserved rest.
Owing to agonizing pain, my temperature did not subside. I and the four others requested Koga to shoot us as it was better to die than to remain as their prisoners. He jokingly gave us shovels and spades, asking us to prepare our own graves so that we might be shot the next morning.

Basanta was the one most cruelly mistreated. For some trifling offence, he was tied with live battery wires; and when the unfortunate man cried for mercy, all the Japanese laughed. He fell down. They kicked him and made him get up, again tying him up with the torturing wires. Besides Basanta, there was another Sikh, Kartar Singh, with us. Koga ordered them to shave off their beards as, according to them, the beards made them ill. For disobeying him, they were beaten.

One day, Basanta was standing by. Koga, like a dog, came upon him and passed urine on him. On another occasion, Basanta was spat upon.

We again pleaded with Koga to shoot us all. He warned us not to repeat this request. We were their prisoners and must obey them. Even the British General Percival was being ordered about by a Japanese soldier. We had been defeated in the war and must not speak anything out of the way.

From “Fathers and Sons—A Tale of Literature, Reinvention, and Redemption.”—essay by Richard Crasta
But there was another, non-literary duty to be performed before I could feel some degree of liberation from that powerful sense of incompleteness in my relationship with my father. Dr. Arunachalam's gesture of touching my father's feet, repeated later by another Mangalorean I greatly respect, Konkani musician, composer, and impresario Eric Ozario, had haunted me. Because, having been an individualistic, city-raised Christian too cut off from my culture and even from my Indian Christian village roots, I had never touched my father's feet. Back in America, I feared that I would never forgive myself if my father passed away from this world without my ever having touched his feet, while others—no doubt my brothers, kindred souls, and cosmic, Brahmanic extensions of myself—had done so.
In October 1998, ten months later, I arrived in a monsoon-lashed Mangalore and dashed home from the airport, heading directly for my father's bedroom. He didn't come out to greet me as he usually did, for he was weaker than before, slowly losing his once-solid grip on the world. I walked right in and hugged his frail frame, paused a few seconds, and then bent my once-proud body and touched his feet.

From “Killing to Eat: or Calling Upon the Japanese to Face their Dark Side” by Richard Crasta
And though I believe all of us have within us a dark side, and that in a profound sense we are also the Other, it is also important, in the illusory everyday world that we call Reality, that we append the stories of the weak and the voiceless to the histories written by the mighty and the once-mighty, and that each us of register our horror, our personal footnote, to the Official and often Sanitized Communal History. Any lingering doubts I may have had about the title disappeared after I met Roger Mansell, an American war historian who had been examining the Japanese record in World War II. Mansell was horrified by the lack of remorse in a recent Japanese compendium of World War II recollections called Senso.  He explained that American G.I.s had been cannibalized simply as an act of demoralization; these acts had nothing to do with the nutritional needs of the Japanese. So I decided to retain the title for this second, public edition, even allowing in a moment of optimism that the book might receive attention in Japan and persuade the Japanese to confront and admit to their widely observed racism and start a national campaign to tackle it, making it less possible for a future Pico Iyer to say, “In Japan, an Indian is the lowest of the low.”

Besides, why should it be so hard for the Japanese to issue an apology to all the Indians who were so abused and manipulated, and to their children and descendants? Will not that hasten the process of healing and forgiveness?

Paperback is here: http://www.amazon.com/Eaten-Japanese-Memoir-Indian-Prisoner/dp/1480034053/
E-book is on all platforms.