Via OPEN Magazine
Sound of gurgling laughter emanates from the tea stall located on Vishnu Digambar Marg in Central Delhi. Surrounded by his customers is the owner of the stall, an unassuming Laxman Rao. It is evident that he is very popular. But there is something more to this man. In the night, Rao will sit down and write for three hours on one of his novels. It’s a craft which has made this tea stall owner pen 20 novels, of which eight have been published.
“I buy all provisions for the stall by 9 in the morning,” he says. “After that I visit schools and colleges to market my books.” His eager customers get a glimpse of him only in the afternoon when he sheds his crisp business-like persona to once again become a friend and advisor to them. “I devote two to three hours in the night to writing. It is only at that time of the day that I want to be alone with my thoughts and hence I request my family and friends not to disturb me,” says Rao.His first book, Nayi Duniya Ki Nayi Kahani printed in 1979, took a look at the swift transformations taking place in the common man’s life.
“I used to work in a mill. After the drought I went to Bhopal. My friends had told me that to make it big in Hindi literature I should stay in a Hindi-speaking state for a while.” But Bhopal didn’t appeal to him and he shifted to Delhi where he created a platform on Vishnu Digambar Marg to sell tea. The writer in him was aching to come out and soon he began work on his first novel.
He went from one publishing house to another in a bid to get his novel printed. None of the publishing houses even glanced at his manuscript, some even told him that they would publish his book only if he gave them money. Rao, however, refused to let this disappointment break his spirit. He went ahead and published the books on his own.