1. That Woman You See is a woman centric collection of short stories. Is there any particular incident that made you choose so specific a topic (about women needing to share their feelings without feeling burdened-I read that in a review)
There is no particular incident as such. There are nine stories in the book. It was initially meant to be a collection of twelve short – stories but three of the stories had already been published in different anthologies before I could submit the MS to my publisher and so they were dropped from the book. Most of the stories were written at different points in time. But while I was mulling about bringing out a short story collection and started collating them, I realised that all the stories that I’d written somehow or the other revolved around the modern Indian woman and her issues. That was the time when I came upon the idea of bringing out a women – centric collection.
2. Have you ever felt that you couldn’t share your emotions? Would it have been very different if you could freely do it?
I’m an extremely expressive person. Plus I’ve grown up in liberal environment, and even after that, when I started working we were encouraged to speak out. Consequently, I’ve always been quite open and have spoken my mind when required. Yet, it has backfired in many instances as in India women are taught from a young age to suppress their thoughts, emotions and feelings. And those who don’t (or can’t) do so are considered too fast, or rude and uncultured. So over the years I’ve slowed down and until it is necessary I try my best not to blurt out things that may disturb the emotional equilibrium of a relationship. However, old habits die hard and it is a struggle for I still can’t help but say what I want to say.
3. Woman centric fiction is very popular now. Do you think this is just a phase? If not, do you think this will give women more freedom in this society?
Well, I see it in a different way. A story told well will always be interesting. So it is the story that makes a particular book popular or otherwise. Probably, women – centric themes are being appreciated more because they uncover or show a side of women that have been ignored, suppressed or neglected so far but have now caught the popular imagination of people. Stories make an impact. And so yes, I believe such stories will be not only be well received but also bring about a gradual but sure change that will benefit all.
4. Talking feminist genres, are your poems woman centric too? If now what are they all about. What inspires you?
Unlike my stories my poems are personal observations about people, life, relationships and situations. Also as a woman myself it comes naturally to me to write poems about women and their issues.
5. Have you ever had a poet block? What do you do to cope with it?
Yes, sometimes. It is not a common occurrence. I listen to music.
6. What about Indian poetry? Do you think it’s very different from western poetry or do we try to emulate them to be more international?
Yes, of course. Indian poetry reveals the life and situations of Indians. Most Indian poets have been influenced by their beliefs, traditions, culture, religion and language of their motherland and showcase their Indian-ness through their poems. But in the end poetry is an expression of human life and is concerned with one thing – human affairs. The difference that we see is actually only limited to how a poem is written or expressed. At the core, however, the motive of the poet, whether an Indian or westerner remains the same – to evoke a response from the reader. As long as a poet can do that it is fine.
7. Could you recommend some poets for newbies to this genre to read?
- Nissim Ezekiel
- Jeet Thayil
- Meena Kandasamy
- Jayant Mahapatra
- Kamala Das
Thanks to Sujata for spending a little of her precious time with me and my readers. If you would like links to her latest book click the link below.
Have a great weekend!