Sahera Chohan contemplates the uncanny accuracy and current relevance of Twenty Twenty, a novel written by her late husband Nigel Watts nearly three decades ago
by Sahera Chohan
The journey of republishing my late husband’s book, Twenty Twenty, has been and continues to be one of the most valuable and satisfying experiences of my life.
Just before Christmas last year, I was out walking with a friend and we were talking about what we would do when the new decade came around. I told her that one of the things on my list was to re-read Twenty Twenty, some 20 years after I had first read it.
I didn’t think much more about it, until the global COVID-19 pandemic hit and lockdown was imposed. I had some time on my hands, as I’d been furloughed from my coaching and training business. Looking for a book to read on my bookshelves, my gaze landed on Twenty Twenty and I remembered my promise to myself to read it. I started to read the dust jacket. That’s when my head went into a tailspin.
I was reminded of the references to a global pandemic causing the world to communicate largely through virtual technology, people wearing masks, a drastic reduction of air travel leading to ‘virtual tourism’, and nature fighting back for its survival due to mankind’s destruction of the planet. How had my husband known, with such accuracy, the events we would be living through today? Nigel wasn’t a scientist; he was a novelist. Yet his ‘predictions’ were happening, 27 years after he had written Twenty Twenty, his fourth novel, originally published in 1995.
Nigel was a deeply spiritual man. He was a visionary and a seeker, searching for an experience of union beyond that which he could satisfyingly find here in the physical world. Tragically, his quest, in part, led him to take his life in 1999.
Nigel said that he wanted his writing to change the way the reader sees the world – to shake people awake, to question our identity and our accepted perceptions of reality. In short, to help us to find freedom. Twenty Twenty is, I believe, a result of that intention. I see it as his wake up call to humanity – particularly prescient for the times we are living in today.
Keep reading in Kindred Spirit issue 172, available from 22 October, 2020
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