This blog used to be views on various things. But in all these years, I find it going a whole new direction.
Something which I have loved all the time. It's BOOKS!! So, presenting a whole new saga, of books and a little about them, whatever I can find, write, visualise and imagine...
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Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Author Interview : Saheli Mitra, author of 'Lost Words'
Saheli Mitra gives us a hard look into what
she went through while putting 'Lost Words' together. Right from her
journalism days to her courtship, to her own life and travails of it.
Her mother's illness and the society around... all of them find a place
in the book.
She gives us a good idea of it, and how she managed to put
the whole thing together are all a part of this Interview. You can also Buy this Book, right here and Read my Review here, too.
How did ‘Lost Words’ happen? Could you describe the
Being into journalism for the past 15 years, writing
articles on law and consumer issues, previously on hobby and women pages, was
something that I did quite often. Wrote short stories as well, in Bengali that
got published in leading magazines.
But if you ask me about writing a book, it was
always a dream that I thought I would try to achieve once I got into retirement. If you speak of ideas, there are many,
other than the central theme of ‘Lost Words’ that has always been very close to
So, whenever I get a chance I sit and jot down
characters, I come across on my travels in a small diary or on my netbook. I
take vacations a lot, a sort of shared passion of me, my husband and our son
and deliberately move about India instead of going abroad. We travel not to the
so-called tourist destinations, just to get a feel of this vibrant country and
the various shades of characters.
India can be a fantastic seat of imagination for any
writer for that matter, for where would you find so many varied kinds of
emotions playing? It’s like a kaleidoscope, such contrasts… and for one thing
Indians display their emotions quite openly. That
helps any keen observer to catch on those emotions and weave a story partly
through imagination and partly through real-life experience.
As for ‘Lost Words’, my mother got quite ill
suddenly after a trek to the Himalayas in 2012. I stay with her and as her
ailments went undiagnosed, there were nights when I had to keep myself awake to
help her if she needed me. Keeping awake at nights without doing anything can
take a toll on your emotional and physical balance, especially, when one has to
get up early in the morning for the son’s school preparations.
Also, being particularly close to my mother, it was
quite frustrating to see her ailing. I just couldn’t communicate with anyone,
couldn’t even tell my husband what I was feeling right then, how low I was.
Memories of my only brother passing away, years back at the age of twelve from
a two-day undiagnosed fever was haunting me too. It was like will that
experience again come back, will I be losing a dear one again?
But I had to come out of this negativity and what
better way than to concentrate on writing, something that I have always
enjoyed. That’s how ‘Lost Words’ was born, one can
say out of an emotional void and a necessity to becomepositive amid the trying
How did the story, especially Geet’s come about? Did
you have personal experiences to go with it?
Yes, definitely. Born
into a very liberal and illustrious Bengali family of Kolkata, I have enjoyed
complete freedom since childhood. My parents have been very modern in their
outlook and both of them read books, wrote poetry and there was a sort of
environment that inculcated the feeling that I am not a girl or a woman but I
am a human being.
I never felt that feminism need be imposed as it
came quite naturally to us. Like my mom never used sindoor or wore anything to
prove she is married, she went to parties, she had many male followers, but I
never found dad jealous about it. They shared a perfect romantic relationship.
Mom also runs a school of her own and when dad returned from High Court after
picking me from school, she was always there to crack jokes with dad over a cup
A very intriguing part was they sharing a cigarette
together. Even my maternal grandparents were so outgoing, they raised four
daughters including my mom just like sons, despite having a son of their own.
But once I was in college and came across girls from
different states, I made friends with two Punjabi girls whose parents were
doctors, they were doing MSc with me, quite good students too. But the minute
they gave their final exams, they were married off, started having kids and that
too sons. When I met them again after many years, they told me how much they
are suffering at their in-laws’ place and how they had to abort twice for
bearing female foetus.
It was terribly shocking for me, as I have never
known that a male and a female child can bring different emotions to a parent,
even to a mother. This was my first experience of how women are actually
treated in India, and over the years I realised the way I was brought up was
indeed a rarity.
Thus I thought of Geet’s character as a rebel
to all things set and done.
How did you come up with the core idea and develop it?
Frankly, the story unfurled, as I started writing. I gave a twist to it and left the end open because I did not like imposing an end on the readers, but allowed them to their own course of thought about what Geet and Jai would do.
Many readers readers got back to me with different conclusion. Some said they should marry and not have kids, some said marry and adopt kids, while some others were left wondering as to why I made them siblings, else they could have made a great match. I thus realised that the characters of Geet and Jai have truly appealed to the romantic readers, as well as to the socially alert readers.
I wanted to write romantic thriller for light reading yet put in an element of the social abuses that women face in every strata of the Indian family life.
What according to you is different about your book?
Romance, Thrill, Society and a strong message,
all in one. It’s an easy read that will appeal to all ages and to
readers who read different genre.
How would you relate the lives
of characters to the lives today? Any similarities?
'Lost Words is particularly an urban drama and hence most characters are based on what I see around. Geet and Jai are the typically modern kids, who are ambitious and quite open about their relationship and its needs. While Jayanto is a typical middle class Bengali, who believes only achievement at the workplace, earning loads, providing luxury to the family and wife is a man's goal. I have seen men in my life, one of whom is my husband. Sort of married to work.
And Shuvangi, of course is someone any modern urban woman can relate to.While Veer is the typical north Indian male chauvinist. The only character born out of just imagination is Deep.
Which particular character did you feel most close to? Why?
Geet. I have lots of Geet in me, including the subject she studies and the subject matter of her PhD thesis and even her courtship days (that I enjoyed with my husband, Subho... we were classmates and have known each other since we were 16).
What was the most challenging part about writing
How to place the letters. Again, letter
writing is a dying art today. But I have a huge love for writing letters. I
still wish to write, only I can’t find senders as everyone is so used to
emails. I found it particularly challenging to frame the letters and I had to
imagine myself as Shuvangi and Veer to bring out the emotions and reactions to
those emotions, while writing the letters.
Have been very keen to make the whole thing a visual
treat and believe have been somewhat successful in doing so, as many readers
and critics even have pointed out that ‘Lost Words’ would make a very good
movie or drama.
Who was it
that told you that you could become the author, you are today?
The two people I have
dedicated the book to...
When will you
next book be out?
Am currently working on
a series of Children’s stories. If they come out, well will send them to
publishers. I have kept in mind my son Chitrak, while writing them, just
finished the first.
He is a
huge fan of Geronimo Stilton (the mouse detective) and makes me read those
books. So, I thought of creating our own Indian style Stilton.
Even Amit Chaudhuri has
that style. Just love it. Simple words yet so lyrical. I liked Khaled Hosseini's ‘The Kite Runner’
too but not those that followed. And Agatha Christie is my all time favourite
for Hercule Poirot has the perfect style of delving into characters. I love that interplay of relationships and the complexity
of emotions that a human mind is capable of displaying.