The brown DHL box sat on the kitchen counter as I walked the dog. It sat there for as I rummaged in the fridge, trying to assemble dinner. I knew what it was. But something, I don't know what, kept me from ripping it open. Perhaps to prolong the anticipation. Perhaps a strange dread from seeing my own name on the cover, my words populating its 178 pages. What if it sucks? What if seeing it in black and white will finally make me realize that I can't write? And then I opened the box and saw my five advance copies. The cover that until now I had only seen as an image on my computer jumped out at me. I still haven't read it, just looked at the cover, read the back, examined the copyright page. I lack the courage to read my own words. It's strange to hold the culmination of years of living with this story, months of writing it, another few months of editing and re-writing, sending it out, getting rejected...and finally one acceptance. Now I weigh it in my hands, touch the cover, absorbing the different textures of it. I close my eyes and read it...an inexpert reader of Braille. The cover is matte, except for the title and my name and the splash of red that meanders across the wrist of the palm. The palm that's almost the same size as mine. I open the book and let my fingertips caress the pages. They are slightly rough as I like it. The texture is weighty somehow and I can feel the slight ridges where my own words, printed in black ink break up the expanse. I am experiencing my words for the first time as a physical entity. I avert my eyes from my words and let my other senses take over. Carrying it to my nose, I smell the paper that carries within it the scent of my thoughts and imagination. I can taste it almost as I bury my face within its pages. And, of course, there is the most tactile way of experiencing it, the touch of my fingers. I am excited, yes, to hold it in my hands. But it's also as if I am bidding goodbye to my novel as a creative extension of myself. And welcoming its phyical presence. And dare I say it...the novel as a marketable, commercial product. It's almost as if despite bearing my name on the cover and my writing within it, this book is something foreign, a package for my most intimate wonderings. Having a published book is the start of another journey for me. The book launch in early January in Delhi, working with the marketing manager at Roli, doing things I normally do for my authors as an editor. There's a part of me that wants to bury itself in my second book now for that is still truly mine, just mine.