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In Conversation With: Dr. Shefalika Verma, Winner of Sahitya Akademy Award

Dr. Shefalika Verma, a distinguished writer, sweet poet, voracious reader, a sturdy critic of life and literature, and what not? She bagged the prestigious (Sahitya Akademy Award-2012) for her notable contribution to the literature, being highly acclaimed in the region, particular in eastern part of India [Bihar]. Though, she did lot of works for Hindi as well. She did over dozen of writings, including – novels, poetry, short stories, fictions, translation works, travelogues, autobiography and continue to research the movement further. She speaks to Anuj K. Tiwari, founding Editor, The Observer.

How do you feel after being called as Mahadevi of Maithili by Hindi and Maithali heart land readers, and Jane Austen by others?

Look! This, I really don’t know, but, I feel its love of those who say me as ‘Mahadevi of Maithili’ and even compare me with ‘Jane Austen’ of English literature. So, I am deeply thankful to them for the affections they carry for me. My work is to write and try to make difference within through my writings, if that is possible. See my aim is to let this world to be a liveable place for all, wish this world would remain to be beautiful forever. With this note I must thank to almighty for all these.

Do you really feel that the literature is the mirror of society, and writers have been able to deliver that, if yes, please elaborate more, if not, then what better could have been done and possible reasons behind it?

Indeed, literature is the mirror of the society, and all writers must express and expose it. If one doesn’t do, probably the justice is not being done for the whole world. Resembling to it from the Lord Krishna and Lord Rama times, we were not there at that time, nor we could have known to that situations, as what had happened who fight with whom and why; but it was writers, who wrote EPICs like ‘Ramayana and Mahabharata’ and through which we got to learn about the battle between good and evils, truth Vs hype and so on. Therefore, I believe that writes must express their anger and happiness whenever it requires in order to correct the vices of the society. And poetic justice must be done with the right spirits. Look Suryakant Tripathi Nirala, Ramdhari Singh Dinkar and lot more, they did whatever was required. They become vocal against every issue that appeared before at that point of time.

Do you see that contemporary write-up and writers are being politicised? If yes what do you think behind it?

I would like to maintain a complete restrain on it. But one thing I want to add – See, writer can never be politicised unless he/she involved into. One must preserve his/her dignity while writing or doing any literary work. If they drag themselves, nobody can save them, even God that’s all from my side on this.

Tell us something about your book ‘Kist-Kist Jeevan’ which credits the Sahitya Akademi Award. And what message you want to convey young writers, including women?

Well – I am little emotional while remembering the‘Kist Kist Jeevan’ is an autobiographical piece and each incident related therein is very personal. I had to write them. I had to bring it out as it relates to my life from the beginning to so on. The journey to start this book is from India to UK, and then to Russia. My two daughters they are residing in these countries, and when they asked me to come after death of my husband. I travelled there and start composing those in form of book gradually, which I even didn’t know. So, this book is full of emotions of mine and even you could release it through title of this book “Kist-Kist Jeevan”. After reading this, you shall be able to understand me and my life, struggle, happiness, sorrow everything. Later this was awarded by Sahitya Akademi in 2012.

I also believe that each woman is a writer. I say this because there is so much that she goes through, so much that she experiences that each life chronicles a story in its own right. Perhaps, my life as a woman inspired the writer in me as well. I would also that every woman has shades to her. She might be a professional and a mother and a wife and a writer at different points in time but her womanhood is her core. And that part of a woman feels and senses and responds to these going-ons. It is with this woman that I connect. Of course, there are disconnects and issues with woman that rip her apart socially and mentally and on many other fronts but she emerges strong. That is where I think I find them real. And that is how I try to portray them in my works.

One must write to tell a story. Some might appear to have a message and but it is never a conscious effort. I think messages are interpreted and made in the minds of those who read them; one never sets out to give them that’s what I can say.

Let us know the idea of writing, and then converting those writings in form of book, did anyone object you in doing so?

Never! Rather family encouraged me for writing. The books I read as a child are still with me, as I mostly grown up in my father’s library with Sharad, Bankim, Tagore, Yashpal’s books in my initial days.  Later in life, I came to know Ajgey, Mahadevi Verma, Jainendra, Amrita. So I was inspired by all these, subsequently begin with writing further.

My family has been very supportive of me and my work. In fact today, my children and my daughters-in-law all give unparalleled support to what I do and what I wish to do. That feels great. Then there was my husband who picked up this bit of interest in me and literally propelled me to write more. After he was gone, I was in depression for long but slowly I realized that by not picking up the pen, I am essentially doing injustice to him and his encouragement.

Later – I was married very young into a zamindar family of Bihar. There was this typical conservative atmosphere at home. I was studying at Patna University and had been married when one of my poems got published. It was a poem that talked about the trials of being a woman. My father-in-law read that and wrote a letter to me, in the form of a response poem. Later, he encouraged me to write more though women in our household were not very free to do everything. It was a lucky situation that education was barred from those notions. One could study, read and write as much as one wanted. Today – I love the enigmatic, beautiful short stories of contemporary writers.

Why the new writers are not coming these days? Why there is so much of disinterest towards literature and writing, particularly by young generation?

See! There is disinterest towards reading while they write and wish to write more even without reading anything. And to write, one must study different literatures and their to be extraordinary of the readers first, then only any writing can be done. These days-the problems are people don’t want to read but to write. You look social media, facebook, twitter, instagram, and internet, everywhere you find writings poems, stories and lot more, but this has no significance, since people hardly look towards. Though-I wish the young writers to be hungry of reading and writings, and then they should write so that society should taste it effectively. Also, the new-comers [writers/poets] don’t get platform to perform, this could also a reason that new people are not coming forward these days.

Would you mind on commenting over the controversy “Award Wapsi”?

Well, my comment is not needed here, people are mature enough to make judgement on such things, let the countrymen to decide which sides they turn up. But, as a writer, I dont see this is require to be returned.

What is your message for young aspirants who wish to write?

I would like to say only about that the messages are interpreted, and made in the minds of those who read them and then later convert into writing. As, I always believe in this philosophy in ‘self praise is not recommended’.

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