By Monideepa Sahu
I write because I have to. I do not know how to define it; it is more than a need, more than a want, a passion, an identity, a gift, a curse, the demon – the vetaal – on my back. I do not know what I would be if I were not a writer.
Tell us about your most recent book or writing project. What were you trying to say or achieve with it?
My latest book is my first novel for adults – Inga. I was exploring a new genre. I started, as always, with the characters;
they had to be true. Through Rapa and Inga, the main characters, I brought up issues of sexuality, caste and patriarchy. In a land where same sex relationships are still considered to be criminal, I tried to say that love, and the language of love, is the same for everyone. Apart from this, I have been critical of the iron restrictions of Brahminism, which still exists in many conservative families. Running through the whole novel is the questioning of religiosity and the true meaning of spirituality in the lives of ordinary people.
But I also wanted to take the English language by its neck and make it writhe and twist and coil, and dance and bloom. One of the ways by which I have done this is by deliberately imitating the classic English writers in an Indian context, through Rapa’s journal entries. Of course I needed a story too, to keep my readers engaged. And, using Wilkie Collins’ recommendation, I had to make ’em cry, make ’em laugh, make ’em wait.