I’ve lived in Chennai for over eleven years now. And have always been given to understand, even before I moved here – through my regular work trips, that the city though economically progressive, tends to cling to conservative traditions.
My bold view of the city and its people as sketched in my new novel Entwined Lives, is exactly the way I saw it, only after I got married to a journalist and moved here. Yet I was apprehensive about having chosen Chennai as the novel’s location, to tell such a woman empowered tale. This was especially so after Chennai based authors, that I met at a book fest, who had no clue I had written 3 chapters of a novel based in Chennai, cribbed about how difficult it is to sell Chennai in literature. They even depicted the same by showing me that their books on Chennai had not been stocked at the fest even though they were panelists along with husband, at a discussion on Indian cities. I was obviously deeply shaken at this learning and contemplated reworking my new novel and shifting it’s location to another city. But then, that wouldn’t be me, would it! 😊 I am not one who will run away from a challenge, sacrifice my integrity, at the cost of success. But more than that, a fierce loyalty for the city that I now called home overtook me. I decided right then, that I would not only continue with the novel located in Chennai, I would make the city the primary character. Thus I depicted Chennai the way I’ve seen it in the last decade, so full of life.
Yet I continued to be worried about how the shy, reserved people of the city would take this bold depiction, especially of women, by a woman.
But this fear was till I had the opportunity to read my bold poetry to 5 of the best colleges of the city last December, at the Prakriti international poetry festival. A very senior poet from Mumbai, to get a feel of Chennai’s pulse, asked the auditorium full of students – which kind of poetry they would like and to our amazement, the shy looking, soft spoken, polite, conservatively dressed students chanted – ‘Romantic’ to the discomfort of their teachers. Though I had decided on reading poems on social issues, I happily regaled them, especially a ladies college, with a series of softly romantic poems which they blushed right through.
In one of the co-ed colleges, they kept asking so many questions on love relationships, inferred from my poems, that in openly answering them along with a young male poet, I had a good mind to request guest lectureship on the subject.
Thus equipped with all the love that I received from the youth, also the seniors and veterans via my Madras Players poetry event, in return for the love I distributed like word candies, I am confident Chennai will accept my white or bitter chocolate of thoughts in my bold novel graciously. I’ve dedicated my novel – “For the city of Chennai” 😊
PS – The details of the Prakriti poetry festival are in the link:https://shuvashreeghosh.wordpress.com/2016/11/24/international-poetry-festival-in-chennai-with-prakriti-foundation/
Photos of these events are on my facebook timeline under featured albums.
Blurb/Storyline: Entwined Lives is the story of two attractive, independent women, Sujata Anand and Aparna Nikhil, and of their lives in fateful conjunction with each other, from loving the same man Anand, a Chennai based media baron. Sujata is married to him after college, whereas Aparna returns from Mumbai to work for Anand, from a marriage gone horribly wrong due to her husband Nikhil’s alcoholism that eventually turns fatal. She briskly works her way up, to the position of editor of the newly launched Friday supplement – a lifestyle magazine. But has Aparna earned her promotion, or is it a privileged benediction of her boyfriend? Sujata is miffed and nurturing a romantic liaison with the much older Shekhar, sets up an event management, followed by an executive search firm.
The novel perceptively charts the loves, heartbreaks, and ambitious lives, of Sujata, Aparna, Anand, and Shekhar. This is, through a trajectory of societal issues – male and increasing female alcoholism, unrecognized emotional and physical abuse, extramarital romance or sex as fallout, sexual harassment; not the least perilous – social media hoaxes, frauds, and internet financial crimes. It is an intriguing kaleidoscope of life in urban India, which holds your sight in curiosity, on what are the options these characters will exercise in the end?