by Vivek Mehra
Vikram, a married man under pressure in the real world inadvertently turns to the Internet to escape reality. He frequents chat rooms engaging with strangers. He meets five women and in a short time their lives start intertwining with his. Each one of them influences his life to change it in ways he never thought possible. He has a similar effect on each of these simple yet wonderful women. From confessing about their innermost fantasies to taking him on a roll coaster ride of spirituality, they start blurring reality. What begins as an escape route for Vikram fast becomes a journey of self-discovery.
But among them is one who gets very close to him. It’s almost like she has known him forever. There is a strange familiarity about her and yet she remains a mystery. She becomes the biggest influence in his life. Then one day, just before his wife discovers that she is pregnant, this mysterious woman disappears. Vikram is shattered because this lost woman was the one who first predicted the pregnancy even when doctors had given up. He wants to know why she left after getting so close to him, he wants to know who she was. Will he ever know? Will anyone ever know?
Seven Shades of Grey represents the seven women that influence Vikram; five he meets on the Internet, the other two are his wife and his new-born daughter. It’s a fictional story of lives intertwined and reality blurred. In this age of being connected across the world in real time, do we remain real at all? Do we even need to?
Note: In 1997 an Indian won the Booker Prize. There was a feeding frenzy on the advance the book got. In 1999 my career was in free-fall. Short of living on the street, I was a professional outcast. I foolishly thought I could write and took time off to pen this novel. For the next 18 months I spent a lot of money on snail mail submissions to global publishers. The polite ones sent me rejection slips that I have preserved even to this day. In 2000 I even scrounged and went to London to see the Literary Agent who made the Indian author famous. He refused to see me. Friends like Sushma Sabnis, whose painting makes the cover, Michelle Sordi who encouraged me to go ‘digital’ with the book, made sure I finally put it out. Today I head a publishing company but have refused to use any of my contacts to get published. Publishing has taught me that publishers can get it wrong. At the end of the day it’s the reader that decides success and failure.
People see me as the successful CEO of SAGE India. I see myself as a failed author. The world loves showcasing their successes, by publishing this book, I am showcasing my greatest failure. At the end of it all, it’s you, the reader, whose opinion really matters.
I thank you for downloading this book. When you read it please put it in the context of the time it was written. This is long before Facebook and Social media came along. This was an era when Internet chat rooms were the only places to meet people.