Only two friends, whom I asked about specific incidents gave me the information and I mentioned their names in the book. After the book came out I again sought feedback from most of them about the book.
Again no response. NOT A SINGLE journalist gave a feedback except for the snide comment of one who belonged to a party. He thought it necessary to condemn it as I once worked for a daily of the rival party! I thought the only journalist to have read it was the friend who was its unpaid editor.
Did they think, “Why should I help?” That was my initial reaction, till it occured to me that the books had no merit and were therefore ignored. It was presumptive to pose as an expert and write on those subjects when, to put it in the words of Issac Newton my entire knowledge is equal to one grain of sand on a beach
I thought the title of the book was smart: ‘A TOWN CALLED PENURY– The Changing Culture of Indian Journalism’. It started with how a colleague, some 60 years ago, thought penury was the name of a place. I now realize it was not smart but ‘smart alec’. It appeared few knew what was penury or linked it to the profession. So the title of the book on old age was changed from a negative one to one that is positive. Earlier named ‘OUTHOUSE ON THE FIRST FLOOR – Coming of (old)Age in India’ with an intended pun (?) on Dr. Margaret Mead’s famous anthropology book, ‘Coming of Age in Samoa’. Now it is to be called ‘Golden Years’, not because no one today knows Dr. Mead or the tribal rituals of ‘coming of age’. The earlier title presumed that the isolation to which most aged people living with families are subjected to was akin to living in an outhouse. That was a negative attitude. The aged may themselves be to blame. And a book is to be judged not by the cover or title but by the content.
The presumption that most people think “Why should I help?” is wrong. I recall how, some decades ago, I helped hold a medical camp in a small town for the rural people around and found that visitors from distant villages had to come with blankets and would have to lie on the ground as the doctors could not take so many cots and beds wherever a camp was held. Going into that small town as a stranger and talking to the merchants association and philanthropists yielded the needed cots and beds for the medical camp in just 24 hours.
For a genuine cause people always come forward to help. “Why should I help someone achieve fame?” is not the attitude of people because human beings are the only animals with kindness or the will to help others. Animals have just attraction, hunger or fear. Only humans love, hate, or have an attitude, as did the man who kept on saying ‘be positive’ even in his last moments when he needed a transfusion and all were rushing in vain before his death to have his blood tested for the group. It was B positive or ‘B+’.