For two-and-a-half months, a creative 54-year-old woman worked on illustrations to mirror poems crafted by her daughter. They spent the days and nights in a specially-designated room to work on the joint project of art and poetry.
“These 40-50 days were like a blessing. I got great time with my daughter who lives abroad and I don’t get to see enough of her,” the mother said.
She felt the book gave her a chance to discover more of her daughter.
The efforts of the duo resulted in the production of “When Love Lived Alone”, a book authored by Jessica Singh with sketches made by her mother Neena Singh.
It brings across Jessica’s driving thought — how love lives alone as “it chooses itself — always”.
“While it is often dismissed as a weakness, it is so powerfully pervasive that it trumps all else. We feel love but what does love feel?” Jessoca writes in the introduction.
The mother said that she was the right person to do the job of putting across the visuals of these emotions.
“I know what is going on with my daughter (better than others). Had she hired some artist to do it, the expression would not have been the same,” Neena told IANS in an interview.
The book deals with the subject of love, certainly making the mother curious about the daughter’s romantic interests.
“I told her you will have to reveal a lot of secrets but she said there will be no questioning and I will have to work like a professional,” Neena laughed.
The daughter knew that the mother could figure out what went on in her mind.
“She did guess the embedded meaning but it’s not that each poem or the entire book is for one particular person. It could be for anyone — who you love or who loves you — be it your romantic interest, your family or your friends,” Jessica noted.
“This book is talking about love as an entity… the personification of love.
“For me, love is more important (than the person). This book is about love that is felt and also about the love that is its own being,” Jessica said.
The title sums up what the poet wishes to say through her work. She said she did not frame the title. “I did not craft the title. It just appeared in my mind as a phrase. When I wrote it down, it made sense.”
She felt the emotion is “so complete” that it can live alone.
Illustrations parallel to poems is a very unique concept. Was it done to market the book well?
“Not at all. I had visuals in my mind while I was writing poems, though they were vague. I had to put them out there, although it was an intense exercise,” Jessica said.
“I wanted them to be hand-made and not the ones created through a computer.”
The mother said that she surely understood the emotions of her daughter well, but to bring the exact expression out was a tough job.
“It was difficult for me to understand her creative mind. The illustrations are in black and white. They look simple but they are not. I have put in a lot of hard work to it.
“She approved of many at first go, but many had to be worked on again and again.”
Poetry, Jessica felt, is hard to sell.
“When I myself visit the bookstore, I buy novels and that’s why I know the gloomy section of poems is not that sought after… but this was not a commercial thing. I was just writing. I never thought I would be writing poems or prose.”
“One day, I just thought maybe I should publish them.”