Many years back, when I was Director General of the India Meteorological Department, I was sitting on the dais at a well-attended public function in New Delhi. When the chief guest addressed the gathering, he began by commenting that I had recently been in the news quite a lot but for the wrong reasons. He said with a feeling of sympathy that meteorologists had a thankless job to perform. The speaker further amplified his thoughts rather eloquently by saying that a meteorologist could never hope to become the hero of a novel and that he would forever remain the clown of the drama. These prophetic words have recently been proved to be wrong, at least in the literal sense.

In early 2010, Anita Nair released her new novel, ‘Lessons in Forgetting’ (HarperCollins India). I would not have written about it on this blog but for the reason that the hero of her novel is indeed a meteorologist. He is J. A. Krishnamurthy, a professor at a top U. S. university and a renowned cyclone expert. Known to his friends as JAK, his personal life has moved along a very different trajectory. His young daughter has been lying comatose after surviving a vicious attack on her while she was on holiday at a beachside town. The incident remains shrouded in silence and fear, the grieving father finding himself helpless in his search for the truth.

Then there is Meera, a corporate wife with a successful career of her own as a writer of cookbooks. One day her husband fails to come home after a party and she becomes responsible not just for her children but her mother and grandmother, and the running of Lilac House, their rambling old family home in Bangalore.

JAK and Meera happen to meet and through a series of coincidences, they find their lives turning and twisting together. A cyclone forms initially over a placid sea under a blue sky, but then clouds gather, the storm forms and it shatters the calm. The story of JAK and Meera begins like a quiet unannounced cyclogenesis and develops further like the stages of a cyclone. Their story has elements of both unpredictability and inevitability like those of a cyclone.

Anita Nair draws her life’s parallels from the cyclone – first a beautiful setting, then just a benign disturbance, then violent growth, sudden impact, destruction, shock, despair, then recovery and finally new beginnings.

‘Lessons in Forgetting’ has a moral for me – that some prophetic lessons I learnt are fit for forgetting.