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  Books   22 Feb 2024  I write sense into anarchy, share that vision with reader: Manoj Rupda

I write sense into anarchy, share that vision with reader: Manoj Rupda

Published : Feb 22, 2024, 10:39 pm IST
Updated : Feb 23, 2024, 10:50 am IST

Hindi writer Manoj Rupda sheds light on the inspiration, significance of silence and political undertones in his critically acclaimed novel

Writer Manoj Rupda. (Image by Arrangement)
 Writer Manoj Rupda. (Image by Arrangement)

At the recently concluded Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Series Jaipur Literature Festival 2024, Hindi writer Manoj Rupda answered questions from journalists and readers on his critically acclaimed I Named My Sister Silence. Here he shares with Sucheta Dasgupta what motivated him to write this powerful novel.

What was the trigger for this novel and what was the purpose you wanted to achieve by writing it?

In the regular course, it is from listening to music that I obtain the inspiration for writing my stories, and I love both jazz and Indian classical music, but for this novel the battlefield became the source of my stimulation. It is a fact that in a war very little of what actually transpires comes to the public domain and this is equally true in the case of domestic strife. Be it in the forest or the frontier, to eliminate terrorists or Maoists, when the security forces carry out an operation against their enemy, much more than their targets it is the local people who get affected. My objective as a writer then became bringing to light the pain of the people and their loss.

What is the “silence” you talk about in the title? What is its significance? (In other words, why did you "name your sister Silence"?)

So my novel was called Kale Adhyay or The Dark Chapter in Hindi, but my translator, Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar, decided to give it this title. The writer, Khalid Jawed, who is my friend, said to me that the Hindi title was too in-your-face and the English title conveys the message of my story more powerfully. That is when I realised that in the midst of all the destruction and the losses it is Silence alone who quietly and relentlessly keeps chipping away at her goal. The movement falls apart, but Silence never gives up on her cause.

Your novel has a simple and linear progression. It is the pain undergone by its narrator and the authenticity of your vision as his writer that makes it so compelling. How much of that is inspired by real life?

It is very important for a writer to be an empath and it is in his nature to respond to his environment very deeply, but his words become authentic only when he himself experiences directly the effect of the discourses that he is touching upon.

How do you define fiction? What are the objectives you seek to fulfil by writing fiction?

Without an imagination it is impossible to be a writer. Even if one is a realist, one has to come up with the story containing the truth he wants to depict. In that sense, the writer is not just a reporter, he is a creator, and a changemaker; he can bring change because he can write sense into anarchy and share that vision with his reader.

Tell us about your journey as a writer. How did you come to write your novel?

When I first began writing, I used to write very long stories. At that time, I used to wonder, why not write 20-25 pages more and turn these into novels? Slowly, however, I realised why this was a bad idea: It’s because those stories were born as stories, just as novels get born as novels. A writer’s journey is a long one, and when he is about to write the next story he himself never knows of.

I have a quibble. You seem to lump together the perpetrators of Hindu-Muslim Partition violence with the business interests that are clearing out the forests and wildlife of India and evicting forest dwellers from their land. But bigotry and self-serving profiteering are two different sins. And the forces that have committed them in India have not always been the same. In that sense, then, is your novel a political one?

Well, I do agree that these are two different wrongs, yet, over the last few years it has been observed that not only in India but the world over, corporates who fund elections and their political lobbies have been favouring those parties who have a religious or identitarian agenda. So it is a nexus, and it works because otherwise these forces would find democracy and the Constitution and secularism and human rights to be insurmountable obstacles on their way towards evicting forest dwellers from their land and destroying the habitat of biodiversity and wildlife. Yes, in that sense, my novel is a political one even if it does not support any particular party or group or forward an agenda. It is a comment on the nature of our politics which not only cannot prevent but actually abets such devastation of the environment, and human and animal life.

Tags: manoj rupda, jaipur literature festival 2024