Anuradha Kunte Singh has done a brilliant job with her book #TheMysteriousWidowsOfMehboobpura. This is one of the best interviews I have done till date, where I enjoyed asking and knowing the Author’s views on drug trafficking, the reasons and the measures that can be undertaken to curb this evil.
Thank you so much Ma’am for your time and this insightful interview.
1. Introduce yourself for your readers.
I am born and brought up in Pune, married to an army officer, teacher by profession, poetess and novelist by passion. That’s me.
2. Did you always aspire to be an Author or was it a series of experiences that turned you into one?
I becoming an author was completely providence. Since young age I always wrote poems, but never thought of publishing them. I was always fond of languages. But publishing this novel was completely a decision taken on impulse. I started out to write this novel as a short story and kept on writing and in 6-8 months it was ready. I gave it to read to few people and they loved it. Then as it is said, the rest is history. I decided to publish it, which was certainly an impulsive step from my side. But then I realized that I love to write, when I am writing I am at peace, I am my best when I write. So, that’s what I should do.
3. How has life been as an Army Officer’s wife?
It’s beautiful, a whirlwind affair of 18 years, full of uncertainties, lots of pampering, moving, living alone, waiting, celebration when he came from long absences………. that’s life as an Indian army officer wife.
4. In your book you’ve mentioned that you came across accounts of drug infiltration while in Punjab. Do you think what you could have done or desired to do regarding the situation there helped you form Ira’s character? Do you think Ira carries a part of you?
In my book I have mentioned, I read and heard of accounts of drug infiltration, personally I have never come across such cases. My husband had three postings in Punjab, so obviously I was there with him on all three occasions. I loved Punjab, it is a beautiful place and the people there are magnanimous. But by the virtue of it being close to the border, it has always suffered, as we know at the time of partition, at the time of India-Pak war and now this. As I said earlier I read a lot, so there has been so much written about it in books, newspapers. There was one particular article, which had come in Hindustan Times which shook me. It was about a pind called Makboolpura, which was known as the Vidhwa Pind. I drew inspiration from that article. But what I have written is fiction, one should remember that. I just took a thread from what I heard or read.
I don’t know, if I am as brave as Ira, but yes I am fiercely independent and you can see a glimpse of me in Ira.
5. Have you watched the Bollywood movie “Udta Punjab”? What are your views or would you like to say something about the movie Udta Punjab and the Chitta economy?
Yes, I have watched the movie Udta Punjab, the makers of the movie have tried to show it quite realistically. I feel sad to see the state of Punjab gripped in such foul play. The people there are full of life, fun loving, brave, helpful and when we see young boys and girls fallen into an abyss of addiction, theft, human trade and few people devoid of any conscious are becoming rich on such money. My heart grieves.
6. What do you think is the main reason behind drug trafficking and abuse? How do you think it can be curbed?
Of course, money is the reason behind all this. I think it should be a two way process, we require internal as well as external policing to curb this down. When I say external policing, I mean, it requires strict actions from the government. The players (pedlars, traffickers, etc) need to be put behind bars at a war footing, strict action should be taken against the kingpins of this business. In short, today’s scene of easy availability of the drugs should change. Now, when I say internal check, I mean, today’s generation has mercurial mentality, they want quick success and if they do not receive it, they are heartbroken very easily. To celebrate as well as to lift themselves from there sorrows, they rely upon new methods. If parents, teachers, social workers, media, all of us start a drive to create mental toughness amongst the youngsters, help them to accept defeats as easily as winnings then we would see a lot of difference in our community. Punjab has always been the state who has given us sportsmen and I firmly believe that a youngster who spends maximum time on track and field would never fall to such adverse addictions. So not only Punjab, all Indian states require more number of sports clubs than the paan ki dukaan of the nukkad, one of the hubs of sale of drugs. There are many other things, remedies, think tanks of our country would come up with many plans and ideas and total eradication can and should happen.
7. How has life been as an Author?
Not much has changed for me. I am the same, still have the same routine. But yes, when people come up to me and tell me that they have read my book and loved it, it gives me great satisfaction and motivation to write more.
8. What hobbies do you pursue?
I love to travel, that I do whenever possible and thanks to my husband’s profession, I get to do it a lot. I read a lot and enjoy collecting books, even though I read on kindle as well, I like to collect physical copies.
9. Do you have any quirky writing habit?
No, not yet, no quirks so far. But one thing is there, if once engrossed I can write even if there is a drum beating by my side.
10. Being a Mum, Wife and Teacher, how was your schedule while writing the book?
It is tough to write when one has a packed day, so the night used to be mine. I wrote extensively after finishing the day’s work, after tucking the boys in bed, then I would start writing.
11. Do you yourself read a lot of books?
Yes, as mentioned earlier, I am a voracious reader. Since childhood I have been reading a lot. I read ‘Swami’ the legendary marathi novel written by Ranjit Desai during my tenth board year. My mother used to be aghast, seeing me reading swami instead of some course book.
12. What is your go to genre?
My go to genre would be a thriller. I like to write suspense thrillers, something like Nora Roberts.
13. Are you planning to or already writing any new book? How long before your readers get to read more of your work?
Yes, after ‘The Mysterious Widows of Mehboobpura I wrote a poetry book, a short 37 pages book, which has Mahabharata in a poetry as well as condensed form. I published it on kindle as part of pen to publish contest. It is titled, ‘Song of Life’ a poetic retelling of Mahabharata, it was a completely new experiment. No one has done it before. People have written Mahabharata in English poetry form but not in a condensed manner. In simple English, which can be read by young students as well. Even ‘Song of Life has received rave reviews.
At present I am working on an ambitious project, for me it is certainly ambitious, as I am writing mythological fiction. I intend to publish it by next year.
14. Any message for your readers?
What message would I give to my readers? Keep reading, discern between quality, originality and plagiarized work. Say no to piracy.