The Death of Mr Love


 I didn’t realise quite how deeply one can love a landscape until many years after this novel was published. When I think of the book now, what comes to me first is not its characters, nor the story, but the hills in which much of it takes place; ancient, jungle-covered climbs of basalt, each with its own name: Bichhauda, Little Brother, Duke’s Nose.

I called them the Ambona Hills but they are of course the Western Ghats or Sahyadri mountains of my childhood. Half a century later I still  long  to walk on these hills  and  smell herbs crushing under my feet. I want to find the rocks that break open like coconuts  full of crystals and  sniff  the sulphur-tang  of air  trapped inside 66 million years ago. I  want  to lick salty dust off quartzes  to make them glow, go climbing for mangos, pick  berries, offer drops of honey to night-visiting moths and wait impatiently for the  rains.

As for the book’s people, I loved them as I wrote about all the things  their loves and fears and jealousies brought into being: the notorious Bombay society murder, the vilified victim and lionised killer, the trial that made Indian legal history. All these  things are  gone, like shadows flowing across  the hills dissolving into air and oblivion.  The hills remain.