02 May, 2007

For Shakti

by Alice Cicolini

I wanted to add something on behalf of everyone who came into contact with Shakti at the British Council during the process of running the Young Publisher of the Year project.

My colleague Debanjan in Kolkata wrote, “I am so shocked to hear the news. Shakti was brilliant at the Indian IYPY awards final and the very soul of the party that followed. I dropped her off at her relation’s place at the end of that evening and we spoke about her enormously talented husband Jeet, whom I knew from my college years. We discussed Jeet’s first book of poems, Apocalypso, which I had reviewed very warmly for The Telegraph. She was very interested in Graham Greene – not exactly the most popular author – and we even discussed the possibility of having a Greene festival in India (the kind of inspirational discussions one tends to have after a few drinks). I just can’t believe the news...”

Debanjan’s sentiments were echoed by the judges who said of her that “Shakti looks at the author as the primary creative source while emphasising young India. We were very impressed with her passionate commitment to the quality of editorial input.” It sounds a bit dry looking at it on the page, but I suppose what they were trying to capture was her total commitment to quality and innovation both in the work and in how it was communicated.

I’ve attached some shots of her at the final; looking at them now it seems so impossible to believe that this poised and beautiful woman isn’t here anymore.

Strangely, on a more personal note, I have seen her so many times in my dreams in the last week, and in those fleeting moments when the mind just begins to drift from the task in hand. And not I alone; one of my colleagues said that the night before she heard the news, Shakti had appeared in her dreams. It’s quite extraordinary how it feels when it happens too; it’s so light, almost like the brush of a feather as her image flickers in and out, like she’s trying to let us know something, but gently . . .

Finalists, after a hard day's work

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