Millennium Post

On a neutral path

Confidence is something debutante author Sagarika Chakraborty seems to possess in abundance. ‘I write because I know I have a story to narrate and an interesting one at that,’ says Chakraborty, who recently released her first book, A Calendar Too Crowded. The book, according to her, is an attempt to introduce people to human rights, gender studies and sustainable development through stories. In an interview with Millennium Post, Chakraborty talks more about her ‘baby’. Excerpts:

What inspired you to write this book?

I have been into policy research for almost eight years now and while I dealt regularly with gender and development issues, I never thought that I would use the same as my base for the fiction genre. But while my papers were being read and applauded by big names like the World Bank, UNESCO and the Indian government, the very people who should have heard the voice were oblivious. It was then that I decided to use my policy research material to spin stories.

Why did you choose to centre your debut collection around women?

Being a woman, I think I have the right to critique the conditions my gender before I delve into other aspects of the society. I was 20 when I started working on the domestic violence bill that was being debated on. Thus, it is but natural that issues surrounding women are the best that I can relate to.

I do not think any topic is a cliché but I will admit that we have taken the concept of feminism a bit too far. While writing my book, I was very conscious of this fact and thus, I stuck to the neutral perspective. I have not glorified any aspects of womanhood. I have presented it sans the rosy glasses.

So, how differently does the book deal with the problem of women?

The book does not see her as a ‘woman’ – instead she is attempted to be projected as a human being with shades of grey. Nowhere have I tried to glorify the image of a woman, I have just screamed through the book that she is just like her male counterpart, made of desires, expectations, ambitions, rights, and follies. Thus, while there are issues of female foeticide, widow remarriage, sexual harassment at workplace, rape etc to highlight the plight of women, there is another critical lens that I have explored.

Any message for aspiring writers?

Believe in the person in the mirror, for if you don’t nobody else will. Remember that your choice of words is like your choice of selecting the right bra for yourself.

Does diverse education help in writing?

My diverse education is my biggest asset – it has helped me open up the windows of my mind far and wide. I have come to appreciate the fact that societal development cannot take place till there is economic development in a country. Thus, there’s a zeal in me to rise up the corporate ladder in order to actually see the benefit permeate to the last of societal strata. 

What next?

I am right now in the middle of finalising a script and researching for another. I am also delving into fiction for kids. As always I have my platter full and I love living by the adrenalin rush!
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