Novel is Completed in Reader's Mind | Madhu Bazaz Wangu
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Novel is Completed in Reader’s Mind

Novel is Completed in Reader’s Mind

During the early 70s in art school, I learned an adage that goes something like this: A painting is “done” when an artist signs and declares it finished but it is “completed” in the imagination of its onlookers. Since my passion for arts shifted from painting to writing I have often contemplated on this adage. I believe what is true of painting is also true of novel.

The process of reading is as pleasurable as the process of writing. When readers read they let their fertile imagination and creative flow stream with that of the writer’s. In other words, in their imagination they coauthor the novel. A novel’s setting, scenes and narrative capture reader’s creative power. Each reader’s version is unique depending on her or his social, political, religious and cultural background. Thus there are innumerable versions of one novel, each slightly different from the author and her readers. This is what philosophers of art call the mystery of aesthetic delight. The mystery is not intellectual but a process of awakening and transformation. I hope The Immigrant Wife: Her Spiritual Journey transports you to exotic setting and lands. Here is an excerpt from Book Three for you to enjoy:


The next morning when Shanti went to the kitchen to make tea, Satyavan was drinking orange juice while reading the Post-Gazette.


He didn’t look up.

“We have not talked for a while, but please look at me.”

Shanti sat down to face him. They sat there for a while, he reading and sipping and she sipping and staring.

“If I was leaving for so many months,” Satyavan finally blurted out bitterly, “you would have whined and complained.”

“I do not complain when you attend conferences and seminars. I did not complain when I was desperate to have you beside me at my exhibition but you could not leave your work. And I did not complain when I put my aspirations aside and accompanied you to a foreign land. Did I?”

“So this is payback time, taking revenge. Is it? Trying to compete with me?”

“With you?” Shanti narrowed her eyes. “If you had an opportunity like this, you would leave in a second. And you have, many times. Don’t be a baby!”

He thought for a minute, then got up to fix a bowl of cereal and milk. “Can you manage on your own? You have never lived alone.”

“We will certainly find out,” Shanti said, knowing that in a way, she had been living alone for years. “Will you be able to manage alone? That is the real question.”

“I guess so,” he said, after a long pause. “I just can’t believe you are really leaving.” He chewed and put his spoon down. “I never imagined something like this would happen. I always thought if you ever worked, it would be from home. Going so far looks drastic.”

“You have no idea of the life I’ve lived or would like to live. Things can be deceptive, Satyavan. Sometimes, they are not what they seem.” Shanti waited for his response, but his mind seemed elsewhere.

“Life is strange, Shanti. I thought we would never be separated for such a long time,” he said softly.

“We were separated for months when you came here. Besides, one never knows what the future has in store.” Having said it, she somehow felt vindicated. Her destiny had found a way to get her away from him.

They ate their breakfast in silence. The wave of delight that had surged within Shanti made her feel a bit guilty.


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