Hello Ananya, welcome to Incredible Women Of India, Thank you for being a part of Incredible Women Writers of India, Monsoon Edition, 2015 and sharing your journey as a writer with us.
First of all tell us something about your growing up years, your school and college days, and your family.
I was born in Kolkata but spent the first few years of my life in New Delhi where my father was working for a multinational concern. I was about five years old when our family shifted base to Kolkata. So, I have hardly any memory of my years in Delhi. My father had quit his job and started his own business in Kolkata. So the growing up years of my life, were not very smooth. The best thing about my family was the bond we shared. Ours was a typical nuclear family comprising my parents and my younger sister. I and my sister who is just eleven months younger to me were best buddies. Our parents never treated us as mere children, and our opinions were always solicited even in matters of trivial importance. In hindsight I realize that this has helped me and my sister to have minds of our own and take decisions independently.
I studied at Ashok Hall Girls’ Higher Secondary School. Here again my parents decided to go against the popular practice of putting children in schools affiliated to the West Bengal Board of Education, and instead opted for a school under the Central Board. As a result, from a very young age, I was exposed to children from different parts of the country, and their diverse backgrounds. This too, I believe helped in widening my vision and gave a cosmopolitan dimension to my overall perspective.
After school, I pursued a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science from the St. Xaviers’ College Calcutta, and later a Master’s Degree in Computer Science from the University of Calcutta. The college and university years were the best years of my life. This is where I made some friends for life. I loved to study. A defining moment of my academic journey was being awarded the gold medal in Computer Science for securing record marks in my MSc. Examinations.
At present I work as a Software Developer for Oracle India Private Limited. I have been working for the past twelve years. My own family comprises of my husband, who like me is a software professional, and my two children.
What makes you, You?
As I said earlier, what I am today can be largely attributed to the kind of childhood I had. I was a voracious reader right from childhood, and now I realize the importance of pursuing a hobby. I was imaginative even as a child and would lose myself in daydreams very often. I was also a very quiet child, and had a habit of listening more than speaking my own mind. This has probably helped me become a keen observer of things, and people around me. The poet in me finds its fodder from these stories that surround me.
How did your journey as a writer/poet begin?
For a very long time, reading was my only passion. My earliest verses were probably born on the terrace of a house in Kasba, my mamar bari, or maternal uncle’s home. It was a full moon evening and I was up to my favourite pastime of strolling down the length of the vast open terrace that overlooked a pond and rows of palm trees. All of a sudden, my hitherto chaotic thoughts coagulated into a string of words, and to my utter amazement, a few lyrical lines were born. Quoting poet Pablo Neruda – “And it was at that age, Poetry arrived in search of me”. I can still feel the thrill that had shot through my adolescent nerves, the involuntary goose-bumps that had made me shiver, and I remember rushing down the stairs to tell my mother about the marvellous phenomenon.
What are your inspirations? Who is your muse, if any at all?
I derive inspiration from simple things that I observe around me. For example, the other day I saw a parrot sitting on a leafless barren branch, and it appeared like a leaf. This observation became a source of inspiration for a poem.
I do not have any specific muse. Nature (including human nature) is a huge source of inspiration behind my writings.
Why do you write?
I wish I knew. Probably, because that is the only way I can express myself completely. Writing liberates me; it helps me detach myself from any adversity and it is almost therapeutic.
What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?
Though I used to write since long, it was only in early 2013 that the idea of getting my work published, struck me. My mother always believed in my dreams, and she was persistent that my creative pursuit should not be left midway.
Around the same time, I got acquainted to renowned composer Debojyoti Mishra, who I fondly refer to as Debu da. Debu da read some of my verses, and kept insisting that I should get these published. This is how my journey as a serious writer began.
Do you write full-time or part-time? Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured? Do you write every day, 5 days a week or as and when?
As I have a regular job as a software developer for a MNC, I usually write in my spare time. But with poetry, one never knows. When a verse, or a thought invades the mind-space and demands to be expressed, I have little say in the matter. The poet in me then takes over irrespective of what other work I might be doing at that moment. I usually write every day.
What is the hardest thing about writing? What is the easiest thing about writing? Any writing rituals?
The hardest thing, at least for me is not getting the proper ambience. As Virginia Woolf famously wrote in her book – A Room Of One’s Own, we are often denied the mental and physical space one needs to write with full fervour. The easiest thing is that all you need is a pen and paper, and you can shut out the world.
I guess the hardest and the easiest things contradict each other. But that’s how it is. I don’t follow any writing rituals per se.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you? Have you ever hated something you wrote?
Sometimes, when asked to write on a specific theme, I do work on a brief outline or plot, but mostly I write from the heart. I haven’t really hated anything I wrote, but yes looking back some of my creative outbursts now look irrelevant.
Do you ever get writer’s Block? And how do you get over it?
I guess, like every author, I too, go through my share of writer’s Block. There are days at a stretch when my thoughts don’t yield. In such cases, I don’t pressurize myself, I let myself be, and use my time to do a lot of reading, or to catch up on good movies. Usually the stretch does not last very long.
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
Writing and writing, more and more, has helped me evolved as a writer. I also read a lot. Creative inputs from fellow writers have also helped me. But I think my biggest aid, is my mind which I have learnt to keep open. Without an open and receptive mind, evolution does not happen.
What are you working on at the minute?
Working on a couple of manuscripts (collection of verses).
Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors and poets / what are your favourite books?
Reading is a must for me. I am a self-confessed book-aholic. Milan Kundera, John Steinbeck, Virginia Woolf are authors whose works have deeply affected me time and again. I also read The Firebird by Saikat Majumdar recently, which I loved.
Among poets, Pablo Neruda and Robert Frost are my all time favourites. And I live on Tagore’s works- they work like oxygen.
What do you think is the future of reading/writing in India?
I believe the future is quite promising. Reading hasn’t lost its popularity and so many youngsters are now looking at writing as a serious career option. I feel very optimistic about the whole trend.
What are your other passions apart from writing?
Besides reading and writing, I love to travel. Seeing new places, meeting new people, loosens me up, and reminds me once again that I am just a tiny speck in the heart of this earth. Travelling, strangely, keeps me grounded.
What is your message for the readers of our blogazine?
All I can say, is reading is one of the most, insightful, yet easy to inculcate passion. So, friends, keep reading, and loving. And if one day, a gush of thoughts suddenly crowds your minds, do not be afraid to pen them down and awaken the dormant writer inside you!
Two of her recent works:
Let it bloom
when sorrow visits,
let it bloom into a tree
and all you need to do
is rest beneath its shade
sadness can be comforting
if you build a tree out of it
instead of an arrow…
a tree has a tomorrow..
one autumn it will shed
you will look up to find
a tiny bird perched upon its branch..
A tiny bird called hope.
A borrowed monsoon
There you are
At the other end of the line
Gushing about the first showers of June
Your voice splashes on my fluorescent screen
You speak of the thundering sky
The rains are here – I hear you croon
I shut my eyes , inflate my nostrils
A few deep breaths and there it is
The scent of wet earth.. The scent of your hair
as you untie those pigtails ..I can see it all
Closed eyes can house a thousand visions..
Miles apart in a rainless country
I cling to your call with a deathlike grip
as a part of me ponders…
Glad we’ve shared the droughts
If not the showers
Telephones suck at
Are you listening at all?- You holler.
No.. Not really
I am sniffing to be honest
For a few dollops of your monsoon
For a few ripped clouds to get me by.
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Please note that this interview was conducted online, via emails.
Interview conducted for Incredible Women of India : Rhiti Bose