Shivani Salil in Conversation
Book Title : Hiraeth - Partition Stories from 1947
“Sometimes, we do not get a chance to thank each one who has helped us in our Journey.” Let the readers get a chance to know about all the important people who have played a part in this Author Journey of Yours.
Though there is a long list of people I have thanked on my acknowledgments page in my book, Hiraeth, but after the book got published there is something interesting that I would want to share. I am grateful to my book first of all because it has helped me connect with people of different age groups, nationalities and backgrounds. Some had their own stories to narrate while others felt glad to know about this aspect of our history. This has been extremely gratifying as a writer.
Besides that, my friends on social media, some of whom or rather most of whom I have never met have reached out and rallied for me. The book is growing organically by word of mouth because of these wonderful people.
Can you share a few lines from your book and maybe give a bit of background?
My book has 24 short stories based around partition that divided India in 1947. I wanted to share the stories of ordinary people who found themselves face to face with extraordinary circumstances that were beyond their control. How they rose above them and started life from scratch- that is what I wanted people to know. The spirit and the resilience of these refugees is not something that one finds in history book. I wanted to chronicle it before we lose it completely.
Can you talk about any interesting character from your book?
Bauji from Ehsaan who upheld the old-world value system and went beyond his call of duty
Bebe from Ummi because she helped me give the story a joyous ending unlike what I had originally planned for it.
Are you working on anything at the present you would like to share with your readers about?
I was a full-time doctor working in a teaching hospital in Mumbai till this book happened. Since then, I have had a geographical move which has given me the opportunity to take up writing on a serious level. I got selected in Hong Kong University for their full-time Masters in Fine Arts (Creative writing) course and that is what is going to keep me on my toes for a year atleast.
According to you which are the 5 books everyone should read and also Who are your top 3 Authors?
That is a tough one. There are way too many. In no particular order and for no particular reason, it would be- The Alchemist, Cheaper by the Dozen, The Namesake, The Last Lecture, Gone with the wind.
As for the authors, I am a huge fan of Amrita Preetam and Saadat Hassan Manto. Besides these two it would be Jhumpa Lahiri, Erich Segal, Toni Morrison. Again, there are so many more.
I have always felt that we don’t chose books but it’s the book that chooses us. The right one comes to us when we are ready for it.
Favorite Place, Person, Food, beverage….
Any place where I am with the people I love
My daughter is my favorite person
The food that my mom cooks
Coffee is my poison
Your other Talents…. Come to think of it, none really. I enjoy reading, conversing with people and sharing each other’s stories
Your First Love…. I think the realization what love is came to me when I first set my eyes on my newborn baby sister.
Favorite Character from a book… Scarlett O Hara (Gone with the wind)
What if Round.
What if you had to live with only three things all your life, what would the three things be?
Food, water and a warm bed to sleep in
What if you were given the power to change one thing from this world, what would you change?
The concept of religion and how it divides us.
What if you had all the money in this world, what would you do first?
I would like to create spaces where people can sit and talk, read books and leave a piece of themselves behind.
Tell us a bit about your family, likes and dislikes as a person.
Married for almost 15 years now, we have an 11-year-old daughter to show for it. Both of them are my biggest cheer leaders and are an epitome of patience. My parents, my mother in law, my sister, her husband and my nephew are the ones I am closest to and the ones who make my life worth its while.
I love conversations in a relaxed atmosphere where no one judges anyone and I just hate hypocrisy of any kind. I am attracted towards humility and innocence and I like to chase sunsets for the sheer joy of it.
Could you share few tips for Young Authors?
I may be chronologically old but as a writer I am too young to be doling out advice. Culled from my own experience, here are a few pointers;
Write like its religion
Write to please yourself. Be honest and it shows (and sells)
There’s no formula or a short cut to success. Its only our perseverance that will see us through.
Keep that circle of trusted people close to you. You will need them to retain your sanity.
As much as we may love praises, the critics are the ones who help us to keep our ear to the ground. Be thick skinned if that’s what it takes but listen to what they have to say.