There’s plenty of sex,
sexuality and sensuality in your writings and yet it can’t be
termed blatant. How would you describe your writings? Also how
did your family react to the stories?
In fact, an
earlier editor asked me to inject some more passion into the
manuscript! I don’t think I have written about sex in a
titillating way ever. It is confusing, tormenting,
complex-inducing, even faintly repulsive, but not a pleasurable
activity in my book. I’d like to think I don’t indulge in
flights of fantasy but present somebody else’s truth. In my
immediate family, my husband is my harshest critic and my dad my
To what extent have your
personal experiences influenced your writings?
Though my stories
are not autobiographical, I guess there is a bit of me in the
descriptions. Mainly, story-writing is a kind of retelling. I
try not to identify with the ‘I’, which is why Darling
Darling, though written in first person, mocks self. Once
you identify with the protagonists then sympathy overrides
characterisation. So I probably take an event from my own life
and then weave it with others’ events, words.
Do you think that the personal
and the private affects the person’s psyche and so, to a
certain extent, what the person writes?
Yes, I certainly,
agree with that. Events make a deep impression on your mind when
you are in your formative years, especially because a lot of
adults are blind to the presence of small children and ramble
out their innermost conflicts. Thus one has a dark aunt who
bravely eschews fairness creams and then cries heart-brokenly
into her pillow at night. As a dark child you learn that racism
is politically incorrect by day but a secret shame by night.
However, I must add that when I am depressed I am able to laugh
at myself but when I am cheerful – like I am most of the time
these days – I write morose stuff. I want to kick this habit.
You are in the midst of writing
your first novel; does it follow the same pattern as your
As a reader you
are able to discern a pattern, but I am as yet unaware of one.
And if there is one, oh God, I should break it! If you mean the
pregnant part, then no, I have got it completely out of my
Many take to writing to fulfill
an urge or fill up void or even to express what they generally
can’t in everyday settings. Why did you give up a full-time
career to take to writing?
Actually I was
laid off kicking and screaming. BridgeNews closed down in Oct
last and I was out of work. Around the time Rupa and Company
gave my manuscript a nod and then I just never got back to a
full-time job, what with the kiddie books and king-size
laziness. When I wrote the stories that make up Barefoot And
Pregnant I was working with The Economic Times and
then The Financial Express.
Can a fiction writer in India
survive on what he earns through writing? Are there any
insecurities and pitfalls involved?
If a writer is
enormously talented or receives a lot of media attention then
why not? But if I was not shamelessly sponging off my dad and
spouse, I’d be nibbling rusks. I haven’t really
thought about this, but I guess I would be unable to write at
all if writing was my livelihood. I have two small daughters and
putting food into their mouths via my pen would have killed my
If you were given the choice
which of the characters portrayed in your stories would you like
I think the
pregnant beggar woman in Bay-Bee, who ekes out a living
through a mundane biological process. It appeals to my sense of
drama and chronic laziness.