72 writing days spread across 10 months [with various absences thrown in], and a little over 135,000 words — and it’s finally done.

*pause to feel the whoosh of relief from this end*

When I started this, I had no clear idea what I had let myself in for; now that it is done, I have no clear idea what I can think of during the daily commutes to and from work, when till last week I had Bhima for mental company.

It’s been fun. More to the point, it’s been one long-drawn out learning experience, the fruits of which will hopefully inform all I do here on at work and on here.

There’s a pro forma statement people make at times like this: “It wouldn’t have been possible without you.”

I’ll say that now: It wouldn’t have been possible without you. Only, my statement is not pro forma, but meant in all earnestness.

The feedback and the discussions kept me thinking straight; at times, particularly on one occasion when personal problems piled one on top of the other and I took a two month break, I found it damnably difficult to pick up the thread again and at one point even thought, ah fuck this, I just don’t have it in me to continue.

I didn’t at the time reckon without the emails. A couple initially, then a flood as my hibernation extended, all saying they missed Bhima, all asking when it would resume. I particularly treasure this one, from the elderly mother of a regular reader. She wrote, and I quote: “My son introduced me to your wonderful retelling of an epic I have loved; each Monday I wait for him to come home from work with the printout of the latest episode, and each Monday I am disappointed. Please write again — your grandmother would have been so proud of you.”

So — I really couldn’t have done it without you. Thank you.

If you liked the series, think kind thoughts of this man — a marvelous writer who deserves to be known far more widely than in just one little sliver of a state. If you found errors and inconsistencies, put them to my account.


17 thoughts on “E&OE

  1. Hey prem,

    is episode 71 the last one or hav u written anything aftr that as wll. If so pls publish th url, i cudt find it….

  2. Take a bow! Also want to re-iterate what I commented a while ago. Please don’t remain ‘India’s best writer to have not written a book’. I sincerely hope this changes.

  3. Prem,
    As I have already mentioned in my comments for your last episode, this has been a brilliant piece of writing throughout. I understand that you are not averse to publishing this as a work of literature. It certainly has the quality to be one. It would however be interesting if you took some time off, then compiled something similar with “Mrityunjay” (Karna) and one more from maybe Draupadi’s POV. You could then merge these two/three seamlessly and create a book with chapter sequences overlapping to provide a wider angle to the story.

    This BTW is just a suggestion. I don’t intend to display the audacity to give literary advice to someone as accomplished and skillful as you!

  4. Just finished reading the Epilogue. I’ve enjoyed reading Bhimsen immensely – and to echo other commenters – it’s been a daily fixture for me to come by looking for a new episode. Now that its done – I’ll probably go back to reading it all from the beginning once again. I am sure there were interesting details that I missed out the first time.

    Wanted to end by saying kudos on completing a fantastic project and a big “Thank You” for the sheer reading pleasure. Will still be following your blog just as religiously.

  5. Prem,
    Bhimsen was indeed an integral part of the weeks todo. Mon & Thurs will not be same but I am sure you will spring up something new. I was always enchanted with your cricket writings and your POV which demonstrated simple logic which was found missing in our cricketing establishment.
    With Bhimsen, I have been introduced to a very fascinating aspect of your writing. I have always been a big fan of Epics and your narration of Bhimsen has been enjoyable as well as thought provoking. The comments on each episode have been equally enjoyable largely due the type of high quality discussions that used to happen.
    In one of the post-episode comments you had mentioned about meeting Mumbai guys for a disucssion-over-drinks. As Thakur says in Sholay “Loga garam hai…hathoda maar do…”

  6. Hi Prem,

    Thanks much, this journey has been fulfilling as a reader too! Can you please be kind enough to add the remaining chapters to the pdf. I am sure Id want to re-read this again :).



  7. Prem,

    If and when you make this into a book, hope you will incorporate these discussions also. These discussions were as riveting as the posts. I, for one, always eagerly waited for each episodes knowing it will lead me to a lot of interpretations. From a book, I get the authors interpretation and my interpretation. This has been like being in a book club with people discussing each episode after reading.

    What are your thoughts of having this as an e-book or a site together with the comments/discussions. May be we can revisit some old discussions as well, with hindsight.

    Readers, is it possible to take this up as a collective task? Thoughts?

    And Prem, once again. Thanks

  8. For me this series was particularly timely b’coz over the last year I was leaning towards being somewhere between an agnostic and an atheist . This series in its own small way enabled me reconcile my new attitudes towards religion and my Hindu heritage.

    Prem, If you are a religious person don’t feel guilty , I am pretty sure I would be outnumbered by readers for whom this series brought them closer to Hinduism.

    Thank You.

    • 🙂 Interesting take, and I can promise you I have no “guilty feelings” over what you and/or other readers may have taken away from this.

      I was first introduced to this narrative — and another brilliant one, that retold the Sabarimala myths relating to Ayyappan in human terms — at a time of considerable personal ambiguity. Through reading these narratives at a time when the mind was inclined to reject the fantastical, I came to realize it didn’t have to be either/or: the authors of these works showed me that I had the freedom to explore not just our epics, but the corpus of teachings of Hinduism, and to interpret it in ways that suited me personally. Somewhere around this time I changed, began seeing my religion in a new light, and actually became a better Hindu, if I say so myself, for it.

      Perfectly understandable that others might go in the opposite direction — I think one of the beauties of this religion is that it contains space even for the agnostic/atheist.

  9. HI Prem

    Congratulations. I am not sure if this word alone will capture the actual joy and pride that i feel about this exercise undertaken by you and the marveloous work that you have created – inspired or adapted or whatever we may call it. Hats Off, Kudos, ill end up running short of superlatives. Look forward to an opportuunity to catch up wtih you in person, last time your planned trip to chennai didnt happen and by the time you came to bangalore i had relocated to chennai. Please do put up a note when u visit chennai next. Best wishes, and look forward to more interesting reads from you. Long live, God Bless

  10. Hi Prem, thanks a bunch for presenting a wonderful masterpiece for us english readers. More than the story, style and substance – which truly were marvelous – its the informative and educative comments posted by various members and your responses which made my day (monday). It is not a joke when i say that i dream often of being one of the characters who lived thru this journey. While it may not be that big a deal, i certainly felt like having had a contented full course meal.

  11. It has been a wonderful journey as a reader too. The writing was naturally of very high quality – having known you thru the various avatars that you have taken over the last decade or so, this was not new. What was new however was the depth in understanding you have in India’s epics – the detail in this retelling, the responses to reader’s comments all revealed the level of understanding and knowledge that you had with this epic. The series appeared as one that had undergone considerable research. A very commendable effort.

    Yes – there were a few places where we had differences in opinions. I have had a more rigid view of the epic – and that comes from having read various versions of this great story and having formed my own opinions/interpretations on the the characters or the events. The discussions in the comment sections have made me go back to the original and re-read some aspects to understand where you came from. I have also changed my opinion on some aspects.

    To sum up, it was not just an entertaining read. It was fairly educative. It dealt with a lot of aspects in the story that we normally tend not to give attention to.

    I will miss Bhim, but I am sure you will be back with something else – something that is bound to make us readers look forward to the Mondays and Thursdays every week. 🙂

    Thanks for taking the effort Prem – despite various pressures related to work as well as on the personal front. We were with you on this journey and enjoyed it to the hilt.

    PS: Are you publishing this as a book?

  12. Prem:

    Thanks for completing the project and the lessons on “Writing” along the way. One of the important messages I received (and not for the first time) is that the skill is not so much in ‘writing’ as much as in ‘thinking with clarity’, whether it is the character, the motive, the scenery, or what ever. The second lesson is: maintaining consistency, particularly in retelling history (or mythology), can be difficult, but that should not stop being in creative about reinterpretation. In spite of your readers’ biases towards a known story, you maintained your bias, and that kept the story alive.


  13. Prem,
    Hope you don’t slip into a post withdrawal anxiety (haha) ,I know many of us are going to miss Bhim.Just wondering if the E&OE came out better than the final episode.In fact the quality of writing improved after the 2 month break you had taken. You take care and look forward to many more writings from you.

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