Friday, July 17, 2009

My first books

"Amma, no one ever reads letters to the editor! ", Siddart, my son exclaimed ! "If you really want to convey something, why don't you write a story?"

The post Godhra riots had left me shaken. I felt like an alien in my own land. People I thought I knew were coolly complacent with strange theories of 'cause and effect', 'such things happen' and so on. Beyond a point, verbal debates seemed quite pointless, as I realized people believed what they wanted to believe, picking out news articles and media reports that confirmed their own 'pet' theory, interpreting facts as per their preconceived notions and being cock sure of their respective ideology. Not just this, debates would often degenerate into arguments. Not content with keeping mum, I then began darting off letters to various publications, protesting against the gross misuse of religion.

My son, Siddart, who was then twelve, was a voracious reader. Harry Potter was his favorite and so was R K Narayan's "Swami and friends." When immersed in his book, he inhabited the different worlds they portrayed, be it Harry Potter's Hogwarts or Swami's Malgudi. I did often share with him my letters for I wanted him to understand his world and the different forces in it.

Now, clearly, he felt strongly that a story was the best medium of communication. Naturally, being a child, he considered nothing 'impossible'. My daughter, Samyukta, then six, too fully agreed that stories were the way to go.

This set me going. I had never written anything till then, neither did I have a background in journalism or literature. Still, I thought I would attempt writing fiction As my inspiration, sounding board and critic were my children, it had to be stories for children.

Would I be able to convey the essence of religion, a lofty subject, in the form of simple stories? I wondered. Still, with Siddart and Samyukta by my side, seeing what I was attempting, I had to persist. Slowly but surely, a collection of stories emerged, on the humanistic aspect of every religion practiced in India.

For a while, it was reading all about all the religions of the world, their source, history and practice today. It became more and more clear to me that great souls have come many times to the earth, brought cheer and hope for a while, but alas have been misquoted, misinterpreted and thus dishonoured as time elapsed.

Initially published in childrens' magazines like Twinkle, the entire collection were then published as a collection of stories, "One". The process also put me in touch with a whole lot of committed people working for peace and amity and I could see a glimmer of hope amid the sad reality of the day.

Thus began my foray into the uncharted territory of writing; something that shall remain truly special for me, as it was my children who led me there.

The second followed. "The Magic Liquid"

For this, the seed was sown by my daughter who felt I should write an adventure tale. Interspersing this with my experience at DoorStep, a mobile van for the education of children.

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