Interview by Dr. Prerna Singla
( Editor-in-chief, Hall of Poets )
Image courtesy Rashmi Narzary
Today we have with us Rashmi Narzary. Sahitya Akademi Awardee for English Children’s literature, 2016 for her book “His Share of Sky”, RASHMI NARZARY is an author, communication skills consultant, columnist and freelance editor.
She graduated in Economics and did her post graduation in Human Resource Management from Symbiosis. But deviating from her area of academics, writing remains her passion. Thus was published WINGS, her first book, in the year 2005, which is a collection of short stories. Looking Beyond, her second book, was released in 2006.
His Share of Sky (2012) is her third and Mosaic, a collection of short stories, is her latest book, released in Mumbai last October. Narzary also paints, in oils and water colour.
Ms.Narzary has translated quite a few of Dr. Bhabendra Nath Saikia’s works from Oxomiya to English, of which her two most memorable and utterly challenging works were ‘SHRINKHOL’ (The Chain) and Xanto Xisto, Hristo Pusto, Moha Dusto (Calm and Quiet, Fat and Robust, Very Mischievious!). The first was a Sahitya Akademi Award winning literary novel and the second was a radio play of the 70’s, in Oxomiya. The second work involved tanscreating the play into English prose. She did these translations for the Ebook project, Nirvana Sutra.
First of all congratulations for your achievement.
Thank you for the wishes, Prerna !
Q. Please share with us your journey from an ordinary person to 'Rashmi Narzary'.
You know, all through I didn’t even know I was on this literary journey! It was only when interview questions, Doordarshan and the media walked up my door that I realized I had reached some place, which hinted to the fact that I was on a journey all along! It was beautiful, unintentional and life as always and all through, each passing moment, I realized the kind of observation I was capable of, of my surroundings, of the people therein, of situations, of things animate as well as inanimate, and my capability to weave a tale through them, sometimes linking more than one of the above and sometimes dwelling on just one.
As regards ‘from an ordinary person’ to ‘Rashmi Narzary’, hey well...I was still called Rashmi Narzary when I was ordinary and I still remain ordinary now, even though you see me as ‘Rashmi Narzary’ J I haven’t changed.
Q. Behind the success of every person, there is an inspiration. Please share with us, who / what is your inspiration on your journey?
Like I mentioned, every being and thing around me was an inspiration because I saw stories in all of them, each unique and touching.
Image courtesy Rashmi Narzary
|Rashmi Narzary receiving the Sahitya Akademi Award for Children's Literature, English, 2016, from President of the Akademi, Dr. Vishwanath Pratap Tiwari (1)|
Q. You won the 2016 Sahitya Akademi Bal Puraskar for your book 'his share of the sky'. What is the story about?
‘His Share of Sky’ isn’t one story but a collection of 8 short children’s stories, each revolving around Barsau, a ten year old adorable, mischievious Boro boy and the stories are set in the rural backdrop of Assam’s Kokrajhar district.
Image courtesy Rashmi Narzary
Q. Please tell us about your books 'Mosaic' and 'shrinkhol' (Translated work).
'MOSAIC’ too is a collection of short stories, 20 of them, written over many years. These stories are about human behaviour as a consequence of human emotions under varied situations. And coming to ‘SHRINKHOL’, it was originally written in Assamese by Late Dr. Bhabendra Nath Saikia, and the original work is a Sahitya Akademi winner(Assamese fiction). I translated the work into English for the Ebook project Nirvana Sutra. It was truly a challenging work but the end result was fulfilling. Very. I had also had the opportunity of transcreating Dr. Saikia’s famous Assamese radio play of the 1970’s titled ‘Hanto Histo, Hristo Pusto, Moha Dusto’ into English prose, once again for Nirvana Sutra, along with a few other Assamese stories by Dr. Saikia.
Q. Writing and creativity is an art, but at the same time it is also considered a fiction, or a story that sprouts out of a writer's mind. How do you think this art can contribute towards a change in the world? Do you feel that the world needs change?
A change is contributed when we as authors, through our creative work, are able to show readers the world from a perspective which is different from theirs, when we can bring the reader out of her unilateral view of the world and show her the greater canvas with a wider horizon, through a multilateral view. Because as fiction writers, I suppose we have it in us to see the world from different angles and hence, it is on us to show the world through those same different angles and perspectives to those readers who can’t find the angles themselves.
As for the World needing a change, it sure does in some aspects and in certain other aspects, it is wonderful just the way it is! In those aspects, may the world remain thus.
Q. You have written award winning stories and books. Please share your experiences as a writer, in the field of writing.
Experience...well...is great when you get calls and mails saying ‘Hey Rashmi! That piece of yours was sure lovely!’ Again experience...well... is disappointing when you receive rejections. The experience is equally humbling when absolute strangers walk up to you and request for a ‘selfie’ with them and when people compare you with the likes of Ruskin Bond. To sum it up, the experience then is like...Oh My Goodness!
Q. Every person starts from somewhere. When did you start writing as a professional and what struggles did you face on your journey?
That ‘somewhere’ of my professional literary journey is yet to happen, you see, because I’m not a writer by profession. I’m one by passion J And hence, I don’t remember struggling or putting any persistent effort to rise as an author/writer. I wrote what my heart felt like and yes, sometimes I did send it over to newspapers and journals while at other times I just kept them to myself. When those that I sent for publication were published, it was a happy experience.
Q. Please share something about your upcoming books.
I’m working on a couple now, let’s see how the manuscripts turn up. Because sometimes, even as I write, the plots change along the way without exactly my planning to do so! Funny, isn’t it? But then, that’s what my kids say, we writers are a funny, unpredictable lot!
Q. What advice would you give to the struggling writers?
Advice to struggling writers...ah yes! Stop struggling with your writing and get on with life. There’s a whole world of other things to do. Do them. Engage in other activities. Let your mind sweat over things you enjoy sweating over. Ofcourse, in between, do stay in touch with your writing, have patience (a lot of it!) and keep the practice of writing on. This is one field that takes really long to get a kickstart. If you wait for that kickstart doing nothing else and only whining and waiting, you’ll not live your life. So go live life. And then as you do so, you should also write. Not only write. One fine day when the results start coming in and you look back, you’ll realize you jumped time and hurdles without even knowing you did! Like I didn’t know I was on this literary journey till the media told me I’d arrived ;-) !
Q. How do you manage writing with other works and household? Has your responsibilities ever interfered with your writing? If yes, how do you manage both?
My work and household manage themselves. I don’t. Guess how? Because they are in sync and complement each other in the sense that in my day-to-day responsibilities and chores I find fodder for my writing. Also, I am blessed with a supportive family and a wonderful staff which helps me in the smooth running of my household affairs. And mine is quite some household...with a varied number of dogs, birds, chickens....almost ole McDonald’s farm ! And no, my responsibilities have never interfered with my writing. Nor have my writing schedules and events interfered with my responsibilities. Now as you ask, Prerna, I suddenly realize...hey!...I’m managing both writing and responsibilities! Thanks J
Q. How was your experience with Leadstart Publishing Corp. and how did they help you publish your book?
Post publishing and more precisely, post Sahitya Akademi, Leadstart got Radio Mirchi, Nagpur and Hall of Poets to get in touch with me.
Q. A message for our readers.
Work up on your communication skills. And then learn to express what you wish to convey and be a good listener as well. Understand others and make yourself be understood. Because whatever you want to be, it’s your communication skills that will eventually see you be there.
Other than that, live your life and let others live theirs, so that others will let you live yours! Quite a tongue twister, is it?! That’s me J Good Luck and good health ! .... Rashmi
Thank You Rashmi. It was great talking to you. :)
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