–The imagery of a sunken boat in such deep dark waters stuck with me…and a story was born.- Sumana Khan
Today on our Blog Guest Post we have the blogger turned author, Sumana Khan, author of The Revenge of Kaivalya, whose work has been acclaimed by critics and fans alike. In a previous avatar, Sumana Khan was an IT consultant. One summer morning, she decided to become poor. She is now an avid and reclusive blogger & author. Today she shares with us about her inspiration behind her new release, Encounters – Someone Always Waiting….
What inspired you to write Encounters?
You’ve asked me a question that makes me scratch my head. What’s my inspiration for Encounters?
It’s a tough question because the manuscript was a disjointed mosaic of paragraphs written in notebooks. It was not written in one sitting—each story was written in bits and pieces at different times. For example, Happiness Clinic was written five years ago, and had a different form and voice. Reminiscence was written three years ago. The Storyteller existed as a paragraph, and then expanded to one page, and remained that way for three years. Best Friends Forever and First Love were freshly minted. Even so, Best Friends Forever existed as a two-page outline for ages.
So if I have to talk about inspiration…I suppose the most cogent way of putting it down will be story-wise.
First Love is probably the toughest story I wrestled with. I had nothing going on – except a vague dream. I guess it was sparked by a documentary on the Kumbh Mela; it was a fantastic visual feast. I’d also watched Coppola’s Dracula for the thousandth time. In the movie, there is a hypnotic scene where Dracula (Gary Oldman) and Mina Harker (Winona Ryder) meet for the first time. The setting is a busy London street, and Dracula spots Harker across the street…and who can forget the lines, “See me! See me now!” Well the result of too much TV was I dreamt I’m in a mela. And I spot a man walking ahead of me. He turns around and gasp! He has a non-human face. It took nearly five months for the story to take shape. (Anything more I say will have spoilers) J
The Happiness Clinic and Reminiscence were an attempt to portray elderly protagonists – we are mostly fascinated with youth, and so we lose out on exploring the emotional complexity that comes with growing old. I’ve also been a participant in the changing family scenario of India. It is an inevitable change – as children spread wings and settle down elsewhere, more and more parents are on their own. Some take it as a well-deserved freedom; after decades of being care takers to children and grand-children, they are finally free to explore their own lives. For some others, they feel isolated and emotionally stressed. The bottom-line is a vast majority of us have never had the opportunity to be by ourselves. Our lives are crowded with people whether we like it or not; relationships are thrust on us whether we like it or not. So, having lived a crowded life, what happens when it all goes away, and one must deal with one’s own company?
The Storyteller was a result of my fascination with the hinterlands of Tamil Nadu (I’d been on a forced pilgrimage to deal with Shani playing havoc in my life). As I travelled through those smaller towns, savouring fantastic food (and of course filter coffee)…I came alive. I transposed this fascination with stories of the tsunami that I’d heard – fishermen being washed away, villages that vanished.
Best Friends Forever has its inspiration rooted in the Loch Ness actually. On all my trips on this loch, the dark waters have hypnotised me. The blackness of the water so to speak, comes from a peaty lake bed. In 1952, John Cobb, an American speed enthusiast attempted to break the world record for water speed. Unfortunately his boat, the Crusader, hit a boat-wake and disintegrated. Cobb died in the accident and although his body was retrieved, the Crusader sank deep down to the lake bed where it still lies today. The imagery of a sunken boat in such deep dark waters stuck with me…and a story was born.
Even though the birth of the stories occurred at different time periods, the overarching theme in all of them was human relationships. It got me thinking about how we come across someone, or a place, or a memory…and the encounter alters us. This is how we grow (or de-grow) in life I suppose. Thus, a title was born, and the stories suddenly came together like a colourful tassel.
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