JAYANTHY'S FREE SPACE

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You beneath your Skin by Damayanti Biswas #LetterToTheAuthor

Dearest Damayanti,

I really hope all is going well with/for you. I pray to God and wish it is all good. My sincere wishes to your beaming projects, ProjectWHY and Stop Acid Attacks. I wish you find the means to support more projects and more children in the coming years. Kudos to your entire team.

I thank you deeply for dropping by to comment on my blogposts. I must say I am always inspired by your comment. Thank you for being supportive. I secretly wish you drop by and comment too. It’s not a secret anymore, so don’t burden yourself. Still, thank you. I wanted to initially send a long comment in your blog, but decided against it. Hence this post.

Book Cover

I really wanted to write a book review after finishing your book last week. I gathered points and also started framing it for a post. Somehow I felt it was all amiss. I am not a great reviewer. I always share only my reading experience as a review. How I got the book to what happened during the book and all that. That was definitely not what I wanted to do for yours. I don’t know if this letter would do enough justice to the book you’ve written, but I’ll try to put my thoughts here in the only way I know.

I really wanted to tell you how much I loved reading it, despite the fact, I abandon most books that has affairs. When yours started with one, I was honestly disappointed. I really wanted to ask why was this needed, but as I continued reading it, it all unfolded in a way that changed my opinion. Amidst taking care of my toddler, the home, some travel, sickness in between, I always felt I needed to keep your book with me. I carried it everywhere and I’ll tell you it fits well in a bag I purchased for my stationary. I even considered taking it to Tirupathi, but decided against it because I cannot read while traveling. I’m strange I know. Let’s forget that for now.

I also kept myself away from reading most of the blogposts/reviews of the book that bloggers had written. When I want to watch a movie that I’ve been waiting to watch, I keep myself away from reading anything about it. That gives me opinions and I cannot watch it without judgement or knowing everything about it. It doesn’t work for me. It has to be fresh, so I kept away from bloggers reviews. I pre-ordered the book after a short conversation with you and I knew it will be delivered by the time I reach India. It happened so in time. It reached me a day before my arrival on 1st October. I asked my parents not to open the parcel, but to keep it in my shelf.

I had already seen the cover one thousand times and tried to find out something extra about this book. I figured a plot and checked how this is different than the one I had in mind. How easy it is to get tangled in our own webs? From the little I read from bloggers, due to bloghopping, I understood it was a gripping story that must be finished in one sitting. That was impossible for me. So I let out a sigh and knew it is not going to happen. I didn’t read any further and I was glad most could still sit down and finish it in less than two or three sittings.

You want to know how long I took to finish your book? Don’t be disappointed okay. I think I’d be the only longest reader of your book. 😬 It took me 3 and a half weeks. I finished on November 6th after writing the post about my sick day. From then till now, I’m thinking about your book, because I want a sequel. No, I didn’t expect a happy ending on this one, did not expect Anjali and Jatin to get married, but expected the case to be closed in an appropriate way.

When I finished the book I had a multiude of emotions rolling at once. I wanted to question you on why you couldn’t finish it well. That’s one of the prime reasons I delayed this post by a week. It took me a week to understand you’ve written things as it is. No extra bits and pieces just to convince the reader that you mean well. That would have made it all a big lie.

Haven’t you put things as it is? The present state of politics, the cover-ups happening everyday, the policemen shifted for working honestly, suspended for trying to work with their conscience, above all the victims dead/still living dead with no justice. This is all true, I’d read your book instead of the daily newspaper. Almost all the news that is written glossily in a newspaper, is in your story. Being impressed is another thing, but I’m thinking how much time did you spend doing this? What was your emotion while writing all this? You must write something about working on this book. I’m sorry if you’ve already written it, but I missed it.

Right from the miss in today’s parenting, misuse of power, freedom, law, women, little understanding about children with different ablities, extreme tolerance towards issues in our society, affairs, unfair negotiation, there is everything one needs to know about today’s society. You’ve not touched up for the sake of it, but you’ve done your ground work for everything. I don’t know if you at any point in time felt you need to drop this project, but something or someone pulled you to finish it. Though these are still tough and unspoken subjects in our society: acid attacks, autism, rape and murder, attacks on women and children, child trafficking and drugs – this is a book I recommend to all.

To women to know how strong we are in spite of all odds and being self- critical ourselves. To the men and women in the police as well as other departments who do the ground work to bring justice, but are held back in some way, I understand you. It is always easy to blame the police or othe departments for not doing their work, but don’t the most important jobs have lengthy instructions backed by power.

Aren’t you right about the title of the book? I wonder how this title came up? Did it happen during some conversation or did you really fix on this one first and then began your story? How many of us are really fine in our own skin to think beyond it? The title is where the thinking begins. Mine began right after seeing your poster, trying to find the girl in it and the girl within. Those eyes in a women without the smile makes sense now.

I’ve personally visited Burns unit previously. I’ve had a couple of incidents in the family and have lost people due to fire. My husband who was once caught in a fire accident while testing a car engine still has second degree and third degree burn marks on his hand. It still itches at times, he says. To an extent, I know what is it like to be burned off quickly. Intolerable pain and anger go hand in hand most times. Life changes in a moment, it all becomes before and after life. Anjali’s life and all that happens around her just kept me turning pages eagerly.

Though I missed to attach myself to most hindi phrases, that little translation you’ve given helped see some Ghalib’s words of wisdom. However, I couldn’t connect very much with it deeply as I would have preferred to.

Usually when a plot has a lot of characters, it is difficult to remember them all. I appreciate you introducing them gradually and I remember all the characters much to my surprise. It’s all in the way it is connected and the script handled every character and scene at large in all views. I’m sure you’ve taken years for this and I’m honestly telling you it was worth it.

Somehow I always had this notion of Delhi, “Anything can happen in Delhi”, I still don’t know why. I’m trying to figure out the reasons, or maybe the media fed me this sort of a mindset. This plot happening in Delhi was again a scary moment for me. Maybe visiting Delhi would calm me about it. Who knows maybe many think about Chennai the way I think about Delhi.

Alright, I think this is a long letter, but I hope I conveyed what I wanted to. You’ve written a gripping crime novel and I’m sure it tops the list of bestsellers and remains there as long as it can to help both the projects as well. Otherwise, hugs Damayanti for such a honest book.

Thank you for this wonderful book, my best wishes for your upcoming ventures.

Jayanthy!

Jayanthy Govindarajan

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Soumya
Guest

Damyanti would love this post. I have met her in person and she is a wonderful human being as well. So passionate about what she does and she does so many things!

While I felt that the book had too many things going on, it had its heart in the right place.

Damyanti
Guest

Soumya, thanks so much for the kind words–I need to start working harder to deserve them. So grateful to you for your review on Amazon–each review has the same impact as buying more than a dozen books, so your support in giving a fair and honest review helped the book reach many new readers.

Parul Thakur
Guest

I am yet to read the book but I am sure, Damyanti will love this letter. We met in Bangalore and she is a good person.

Damyanti
Guest

Parul, thanks so much for the kind words. Loved meeting you, as well!

Anamika Agnihotri
Guest

Jayanthi, I love you even more after reading your heartfelt letter to Damyanti. There are not even a handful among us out there who can write with the honesty and innocence as you have done here. I get the drift of the whole book here and you know what generally speaking I too have the same issues with affairs and unwarranted sex scenes in books. They put me off. There are very few books which I must have completed inspite of my reservations. I have not read You beneath the skin but can gather that it must be a dark… Read more »

Damyanti
Guest

Anamika, yes, it is a dark story–and I’m so moved by Jayanthy’s response.

Shailaja Vishwanath
Guest
Shailaja Vishwanath

You know the best thing about this review, Jayanthy? It’s from the heart. And that’s the kind that appeals the most to writers. Damyanti would love this one, am sure. She is one of the kindest, most genuine people I have ever known.

I am yet to read the book (long story) but will get to it soon.

Damyanti
Guest

Shailaja, that’s such a generous and kind thing to say. Thanks for keeping the book on your TBR–the more new readers it finds, the more support we can get for Project WHY and Stop Acid Attacks.

Shilpa Garg
Guest

This is such a lovely and heartfelt letter, Jayanthy! I am sure Damyanti will love it!
You Beneath Your Skin has raised and portrayed pretty important issues plaguing our society realistically.

Damyanti
Guest

Thanks for the kind words, Shilpa! I didn’t set out to raise awareness, but now that the book is out there, you’re right, the thing I love most is the ability to speak about issues that have my heart.

Damyanti
Guest

I don’t know how I missed this, but am in tears now as I read your letter. So honest, and heartfelt–thank you for taking the team to read, and for writing at such length. This kind of resonance, and reactions from a good reader like you is such a reassurance for a writer.

Thank you so very much.

Jayanthy G
Guest

Aww. Thanks a lot Damayanti. You deserve a lot more than this one. We are all waiting to read more of your work. We will always support you. Seeing one among us reach greater heights and encouraging us to reach out for our goals and dreams is such a heartwarming feeling. I wish you nothing but the best and more power to you in all the projects you undertake.