Who is Avantika Debnath? When did you begin writing?
Born in a Bengali family, I grew up speaking in Hindi and studying English. The first time I held a pen, I had no language that I identified as my own. I am a jack of all the three languages, despite a Master’s Degree I was a master of none.
Long before I settled on writing, writing had chosen me. So if you ask me when and where it was that I arrived at the decision of being a writer, I would have no answers for you. For those who believe that it was my grip over a certain language that led me to this path, I would have to stand divided.
Why made you write this book?
Meera would shake me off my Sleep every night and compel me to pen her journey down…
What fueled me was a story, a story that was burning inside me, it wouldn’t let me sleep. Like a child scared of a dreadful nightmare or to respond to the urgent call of nature wakes up her mother, it would wake me up in the middle of the night. And then like this mother, I’d spent the rest of my night tossing and turning in my bed, pacing the balcony, exploring the refrigerator.
‘I need to be told,’ She demanded.
‘What the heck, let’s just do it,’ I responded.
About The Bridal Pyre
Nainam Dahati Pawakah kept me up for nights at stretch, but you will never find me complain. The misogyny in the society surrounding me was smothering me. I hate to say, but I don’t blame patriarchy solely for the less than reverent stature of the women in our society. More than often a woman has turned herself against another leaving no stone unturned to burn her dreams and hopes into ashes. But the one with undying spirit cannot be burned– Nainam Dahati Pawkah – in Lord Shri Krishna words. So Meera finds reincarnation in her ashes
Meera, the protagonist of The Bridal Pyre – Nainam Dahati Pawakah is not a single woman created by the figments of my imagination. She is the universal representation of every woman, she is the one that dresses in the shortest skirt and drinks like a fish in parties, she is the one who concedes to every brutality for the sake of domestic harmony, she is a careerist woman and also the one who stays confined to the kitchen to preserve her matrimony, she is the one with voice and articulation and the one who chooses to play mute, yet when deceived and reduced to dust, Meera displays tremendous power and emerges from the most challenging situations. With her valour and vigour, she refused to stay contained in my thoughts and I had to chronicle her journey. Surprisingly, married, single, successful or otherwise, I have not met one woman who has read the book and not related to Meera for once. That to me is my victory because that was the purpose I had when I started the book.
Is there a writing schedule you follow?
People ask me if I follow a certain style or schedule. I follow nothing. Life entails many exerted disciplines and routines, so I allow my writing to be free of any. I have just completed my second book. It is a compilation of seven independent stories displaying the relentless struggle of human beings with their twin arch nemesis – Time and Destiny, who also double as the only bosom friend we can fall back on at times of need and desperation. After all, who needs a friend when life alone plays the role immaculately? None of these stories end in a way you would want or expect, yet, I am confident, you will be left with stirred up emotions at the end of this soulful read. But I will talk more about it when it’s about to release.
Writers who have influenced you
I have stayed greatly influenced by Jhumpa Lahiri and Khaled Husseini. They haven’t produced a new novel every year, but when they did, they left us unsettled for days following the read. That is the kind of writer I aspire to be. My writing does not comply with the modern writing standards, they don’t have a ‘sugar-n-spice’ girl romancing a dude. I do not believe in bubble gum love stories and cannot imagine myself writing one, ever.
Your advice for aspiring authors
I don’t consider myself an ‘author’. I think the weight of this word is too heavy for my feeble shoulders. I laugh when people turn toward me for advice.
‘Just follow your heart’ is all I have to say. Don’t write because a certain person has become a hot cake by writing.
Don’t sketch stories on some other established writer’s lines. Try to work the magic you are born with, don’t borrow someone else’s shine and things will fall into places.
Author: Avantika Debnath
Publisher: Omji Publishers
Genre: Fiction / Contemporary / Women
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