This 13th of February proved to be a fortune for me, I got to have an opportunity of interviewing Simran Keshwani for her book “Becoming Assiya: The Story of the Children of War“.
The book is known to be released on Tuesday the 21st, this month.
Below, I do present to you the 10 questions I had the opportunity of asking the debutant writer.
Jayant: So, to begin with, what is it that brought you to write on such a topic (harsh and demanding)?
Simran: I think the very fact that our lives are governed by violence. It has become so normal for us to experience these things, guised as acts of good and philanthropy that nobody really bats an eye to the weights of hate being transmitted. A normal act like conversation, is no longer apolitical. In fact, our lives, like an art piece are subject to scrutiny and violation just by the act of voyeuristic gazing. We live and breathe violence and hate is the only religion we know. Shouldn’t be a surprise to start writing about it.
Jayant: Do you know that you are about to begin inspiring a new generation of readers and writers to reach out to topics quite intense (you have already begun doing that, though)?
Simran: That’s indeed overwhelming to hear! I think, all of us, part of the current generation of thinkers and doers have an overarching responsibility on our shoulders- to inspire and lead the way for the next generation. That is a tremendously hard task, but the brunt is shared. It is not just writers, but elders with their everyday acts who can set standards for the young and impressionable. Therefore, one must keep in mind the larger footprint of one’s actions. Our actions not only shape our present, but as somebody rightly said, lay the foundation for a brighter or bleaker future.
Jayant: Now, in your eyes, who is Assiya?
Simran: She could be every girl. She could be any girl. She could be the girl you meet on the bus stand waiting for her workplace commute. She could be the singer you see on TV. She could be the girl sitting next to you with dreams in her eyes. She could be the writer you’re reading. She could be the revolutionary you look up to. What makes me see a piece of her in every girl is her struggle and in the end, her redemption through the Word.
Jayant: Have you ever thought this! What if it was Simran than Assiya there?
Simran: I believe Simran and Assiya meet somewhere in the middle on the plane of the unreal and the real and shake hands, for they must.
Jayant: What’s your idea about this war? What is it? What’s going on?
Simran: What’s going on is a game of greed. My idea about every war is alike. It eats lives, distorts our present, past and future alike. And above all, it is our conscious doing.
Jayant: Above all, what’s your book’s vision? Let’s not talk about genre (for what would be horror for me, may be romance for you), right! But what is the book’s type? And whom does the book call to be its readers?
Simran: Personally for me to categorise genres of readers is a constricting view. My book is no girlhood romance, but perhaps, somebody could read it like one. Books are what you make of them, really. My vision was simple – to bring out the nuances of identity. I hope I’ve been able to achieve that.
Jayant: Now, would you allow us – the readers – to peep a little into
the plot of the book?
Simran: The plot of the book follows a non linear structure. I’ve made sure to construct my narrative in the way memory works. One bump there, one low here. I bank on Assiya’s mother, Rabbia’s unnamed journal, the metaphor of mirrors and most importantly, Syrian folk songs to construct my story. The story begins with Assiya’s moment of “red” – brief escapade from realistic conundrum around her and ends with another girl looking for her moment of Red, only this time, the girl has access to books and words, not bombs and bullets.
Jayant: Thereafter, asking you about your next book can be so stupid a
question, I guess (for I know that you haven’t planned any such existence yet)! So, do tell us if anything else is what you write.
Poems? Articles? Drama? Anything!
Simran: Definitely not a stupid question! Like I said, I don’t believe in genres. In times of dismay, pen and paper was my best friend. I write what comes to me. It is about a moment of realisation – and I try capturing that on paper. With this book, spending half my life in the Middle East helped realised the vacillations in identity for an Arab.
Jayant: Then, what are your upcoming plans?
Simran: I’m working on a prequel to Becoming Assiya.
Jayant: And, after all, I know you’ve got people to thank. Won’t you let us know who they are?
Simran: First of all, thank you for taking the time out and listening to me. I think, there’s so much noise today, that there’s hardly any room for constructive, engaging talk (which requires listening.)
I’d like to particularly thank Mum and my Grandfather. If it weren’t for the pains they took, Becoming Assiya would be a far off reality.
Jayant: I have read a few of your interviews earlier (including the one on The HuffingtonPost) which I have found to be quite beautiful. And, to tell you the truth, I find this to be no less amazing! Thank you for being on the other side to answer each and every question.
- And here ends an interesting and happening interview. Let’s wish all the luck and cheers to Simran for her upcoming book. Hope it hits all those stores out there with overwhelming success.
- PS : Anything that you wish to ask can be put down in the comment box here, and I’ll just make sure that it is answered to you.
- images: sent via mail (by Simran herself)…