Prof. Subash C. Mishra taught me one of my most important lessons at IIT Guwahati. And he did it outside the classroom.
I had written a dramatized story in a student magazine about the Battle of Saraighat. Prof. Mishra sent me an email saying he really liked the story and wanted to talk to me about it.
When I went to meet him in his office, he asked me to walk with him to the nearest tea stall.
“Literature is best discussed over chai,” he said.
So, off we went for a cuppa of chai and en route he asked me about my writing. I hadn’t written much till then except for a few articles here and there. But he was fascinated by another series I had written about the 1962 Sino-Indian War.
“So, you like writing about history?” he asked.
“Yes, sir. One day I plan to write historical novels.”
“Hmm. That’s good. But you are aiming too low.”
“What do you mean, sir?”
“You shouldn’t be writing ‘about’ history. You should aim to write history itself.”
I had laughed at it then.
Now that he is no more, I am going to take him more seriously.
Prof. Mishra passed away on February 8, 2017 at his residence in the IIT Guwahati campus. I look for him when I am staring at the night sky.