V. S. Sury, Author of Jestus on Rampage: An Interview with Alok Mishra

V. S. Sury talks about the book and the writing style and various other stuff

V. S. Sury is an old school person who mostly loves to live a life of the recluse, but when required, he is a pleasant talker who can easily synchronize with the young folks. Born in 1945, he graduated as an engineer and joined the government services in 1969. After a successful career, he retired in 2005. Running on 72 now, Sury is a bachelor by choice and lives alone. He has written two novels – Jestus & Jestus on Rampage. His third book is about to be published. Sury takes interest in reading, writing, cricket and old movie songs. He is also interested in spirituality and contemplation on life.

Jestus on Rampage, the latest book by V. S. Sury is a comic exploration of the serious issues of life. This book will make you laugh and at the same time, if you look it from a different angle, will sway you to think about the questions that we often feel great to ignore.

Alok Mishra: Mr. V. S. Sury, first of all, I would like to congratulate you for this book, Jestus on Rampage. I am a ‘reader at large’ when it comes to fiction, but such a book, I did not encounter! How did you get your idea to write this one?

V. S. Sury: Thank you. Actually, I was an engineer by profession. (Retired in 2005). I like reading; so I suppose it is natural for an avid reader to have a go at writing also! The idea was simmering in my mind for some time. Then there came a time I could not hold it down any longer; the result was, ‘Jestus’, my first novel. The present book, my second one, is a kind of sequel to it, but can be read independently.

Alok Mishra: You must have read some of the modern fictions. What you find is a kind of predictable storyline where you can almost foretell what’s going to happen. Your protagonist and your storyline, both have successful denied that leverage to the readers. Why didn’t you follow the same storyline like others do?

V. S. Sury: Oh, I did not have any formula for writing the story. I let the story develop by itself, the way a seedling grows into a full-branched tree. I guess some amount of intuition was working in the background.

Alok Mishra: Your book is quite a different piece, I must say! Most of the authors take the escape route by choosing a typical ‘desi set-up’ for their novel and add a little spice, like their gurus have done. But you set up your novel in a quite different scenario. What would you say about this?

V. S. Sury: I must confess that I am unfamiliar with the works of ‘desi’ writers – I may have read just half a dozen books. Probably that must have helped me in not falling into a specific groove. I did not have a fixed formula. I let imagination take full control of the writing – it was a very exhilarating experience!

Alok Mishra: Bagdenborg, the protagonist of your novel, wears dhoti, speaks fluent Sanskrit and admires our culture. At the same time, a seemingly complete freak for the other characters in the novel. What is your message through these events?

V. S. Sury: The answer lies in the introductory lines I wrote in the previous novel built around the same ‘hero’, Jestus. The man symbolises the hidden, fantasy-indulging child that lurks inside every adult in ALL COUNTRIES OF THE WORLD. That is why our hero has got a hundred names. And lives in a hundred cities, speaking a hundred languages, decorating himself in a hundred costumes!

Alok Mishra: As the blurb of your book says, dear Sury, this book gives the readers a great deal of laughter! The Gorilla episode, where a gorilla claps on the lecture of Richards and participates in the board meetings, is completely hilarious. However, there must be a message amid the smoke of laughter. What’s your message?

V. S. Sury: The scene is hilarious, I admit! There is no message. To repeat, the writing was an exercise in pure humour – with no holds barred. I used imaginary, ‘unreal’ events because there is an advantage for writers like me; there are no established rules to hold you back on a tight leash!

Alok Mishra: It requires a great force from within to write a novel like you have done! Keeping the ‘writer’ almost completely invisible – I could hardly find a trace of apparently ‘yours’ in the novel. However, how far you would deny the ‘ideological’ presence of yourself in the lines?

V. S. Sury: What you say is true in one sense. The ‘mine’ of the writer is invisible on the surface. But the determined sleuth can delve deeper and glimpse hidden hints of philosophical problems. The particular one, in this book, is that age-old question of the ‘reality’ of the everyday-world, which haunts not only the author, but most people as well! The book may be said to be the author’s way of solving that problem.

Alok Mishra: As the protagonist of the novel goes back where he came from – the virtual world, what the readers can decipher after reading this wonderful piece? A hint from the author could help them a lot in decoding this chasm of worlds.

V. S. Sury: Please allow me to give a cryptic answer. Our man disappears into the virtual world by plunging straight into a computer screen! It is a virtual world. So he must come back, some day! Our hero, Professor Bagdnborg, a.k.a Jestus, also having another hundred names, will be back for sure. There are also underlying imageries. Modern science says that in ‘empty’ space, a continuous process of creation and destruction of particles is taking place. The other older one, the unending cycle of birth and death needs no mention.

Alok Mishra: And the last question, rather a personal one Mr. Sury, who is the target of the satire in your book – the world, a set of people in the world, or a person mocking himself and the world around him?

V. S. Sury: There is no target, no object of satire was chosen. As I said, I wrote for the sheer pleasure of writing something off the beaten track. I wanted to pit reality against illusion and see what happens! Fun there is, aplenty; but no malice.

Alok Mishra: Thanks for your time! It was a pleasure reading your book and talking to you about that. I wish you best of luck for the future!

V. S. Sury: Thank you. The feeling is mutual – it was a pleasure (not to mention, privilege) to interact with your questionnaire. That feeling of pleasure itself prompts me to write another book and get it reviewed by your organisation! Thanks again.