“A deleted scene refers to footage that has been removed, censored, or replaced in the final version of a film or television show.” In this case, my novel, Seahorse. I’d written this paragraph in its earliest draft, and it survived until final edits, shuffled here and there, tweaked and polished. And then it had to go. “Suggest cutting to make it more brisk,” marked my editor. Yet I felt a little sorrowful to hit Delete. So it’s gone from the manuscript. Here it has its own space.
“Long train journeys always remind me of the first one I took from my hometown to Delhi. Standing at the station bidding my parents farewell. My mother suddenly quiet. My father briefly placing his arm around my shoulders just before I stepped into the carriage. It was the single most exhilarating journey of my life—across the plains of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. I’d been ensconced within the shadow of landlocked hills, and the view of a limitless horizon offered me a glimpse of freedom I’d never imagined. In those days—this was the late 1990s—few economy airlines ran in India. Those who could afford it flew Indian Airlines or the new Jet Airways. The rest took the train. As ever, looking back now a decade or more later—which if you think about it, isn’t very long—I am surprised by slowness. And I think of that journey, two days to Delhi in a rattling, lurching carriage that didn’t smell all that fresh, as a rite of passage. As my small odyssey. The world has no epics now because it doesn’t undertake long journeys. By ship. By carriage. On foot. From one airport terminal to the other, people reached destination after destination with little sense of having moved or been transformed.”
Image from Vanessa Fire