Writing often is a lonely journey. The silent reader hardly even responds to the questions a writer so expertly hides in her stories. But then there are some that respond extremely painstakingly on what appeals to them in the stories.
Ravi sir has been one such rare mentor and guide...his thoughts on my book answer the questions that have been haunting me for long...like what's the importance of a plot in the story...what if there is no villain...there is no real 'conflict'...would it still appeal to someone...
What follows is a mail I received from sir a few days back...I am sharing this mail because it very precisely answers questions that often plague a writer's mind. On a personal note, it reassures me...it's not always a lonely journey...it's nice to have someone that talks to me...Thanks a lot for your kind words sir.
***I have long felt that authors of dictionaries need to revisit the definition of “story” and ‘fiction” urgently. I have felt that their stress on incidents and people “invented “ by a writer to “ entertain “ is outdated .(Some Indian authors writing in English have in recent years gained instant popularity by creating event ---oriented narratives in which characters ,both mythological and contemporary, are visibly involved in actions. They are certainly entitled to credit due to them for creating a readership.) I have also felt that more than an occurrence and people taking part in them streams of thoughts and situations represented can be more engaging than “ actions” though they may not be entertaining in the clichéd sense. Puja Upadhaya’s Teen Roz Ishq is certainly a book which ramparts my views.
This apart, I come to a question I have been asking many. Should a story writer be just a commentator giving a ball –by- ball narration and taking the listener (reader in this case) through turning points which accentuate the drama? Is it not important that at least a part of the writer is revealed through the fictional characters or portrayed situations? Puja answers my questions effectively through what she has written. She constructs an ambiance in which even the seemingly inanimate appears to communicate.
The story Jism Ka Kaala Jadoo, for instance, creates vibes of sensuality which could have won applauds from even Sadat Hasan Manto who seems to be one of her favourite authors. The presence of the two who are in love is just to be perceived but their obsessive togetherness is experienced by all. This is a situation in which the author is not there as a commentator or as a prompter yet through the portrayal of this moment of love Puja underscores her presence around with adroit sensitivity.
A similar intensity comes alive in “Tum Mera Dard Ho Ya Morphin” in which a character named Samar is referred to but more significant is the line that “Tumhe Koi Apni Duaon Se Jilaye To Mar Bhi Nahin Sakte (if many prayers are said for your life you cannot even die.) Jaane ke Liye Jaroori Hai ki Jitne Logo Ki Yaad Me Tum Ho Wahan Se Jabran Tumhe Mitaya Jaye(To let you depart it is necessary to erase your name from memory of all.”) In another situation love walks in unobtrusively with one accepting that without sharing with the other neither joy was complete nor the pain could diminish.
For Puja Upadhyay dynamics of love has its own charm as it leads to unpredictable metamorphosis of situations and characters lending them an aura of the unfamiliar.(Puja reminds me among others of Usha Priyambada some times) Most of the characters, one suspects are there in a story , are not architects of dramatic moments .They are designers of enigmatic settings but ensuring that something, indeed, is moving. It is perhaps like an escalator on which you have just to let yourself go without making an effort .It will take you to the point the designer had intended. The last story “Teen Roz Ishk “proves this. Without a conventional conflict point it creates a collage of emotions, from exuberance to restrain, from despair to hope and then to a point where love blossoms, finally but silently.
Gum Hoti Kahaniya (or vanishing stories) the title of the book probably suggests that life may not always be a journey at every stop of which something striking happens. In fact, in Puja’s stories there are only hints of happenings and it is for the discerning to notice it.
( Note :This is not a review but my thoughts on some of the questions I have asked and tried to answer through references to stories in the book)
PS: My first book Teen Roz Ishq- Gum hoti kahaniyan has been published from Penguin this year in march. It will soon be available in bookstores.
Buy it on Amazon, click here.