Bangalore-based author-columnist Shinie Antony&’s latest book — The Orphanage For Words (Rupa) — has just hit the stands and readers can expect many more of her short stories focusing on relationships and much more along this strain. Her stories do leave an imprint… lingering on those heady words and emotional setups. Excerpts from an interview:
The very title of your latest book, The Orphanage for Words, hits. You say in it, “Hush, little word, in a shroud of tongue, unclaimed and mortal”. One never imagined there ever could be an orphanage of words!
Since words are a primary communication tool, there is constant refinement and construction. New words are coined, old ones are junked, they merge to become other words, they can stereotype someone or have them stand apart. Then there are the words used like a magic chant for a brief time, like the name of a loved one, that fall into disuse.
Your stories/writings revolve around relationships, loss and pain. How come? More so, as you come across as cheerful and blessed!
Stories are imagined. Writers leave comfort zones for the “other” or “further” all the time. You say I write “dark”, but who occupies a sunlit spot all the time?
There is nothing called “pure fiction”. Comment in the backdrop of your stories.
You mean things are fabricated out of existing yarn, certain universal or personal truths, and that for the most part life is inescapable. In that sense, yes, all stories are figments of facts, but they are in the end “impure facts” because they can exaggerate conflicts and create resolutions, however subtle or intangible. One cannot see a life, anyone&’s, including their own, as a final sum of totalities. If stories do not transcend at some level and only merely say what they see, it would be reportage.
Any recent happening or build-ups or events that have left an imprint… triggered off the very start and formation of some of your recent short stories?
For the longest time, after we leave childhood behind, we rush to meet life halfway because someone is always jumping out from behind a sofa shouting, “Surprise!” on your birthday. Then slowly lights dim, nothing goes your way, and people you can’t imagine being without suddenly up and leave. Loss breaks and remakes you, and sets off preoccupations. We cling to remaining parents, obsess over the baby that almost was.
Writers come in all hues… How would you describe yourself?
I am slow to react, and can only fake anger.
What if you didn’t or couldn’t write for days at a stretch, what then would be your emotional state?
The actual physical act of writing, of keying in words, is very brief. It is the story falling into place in your head, in bits and pieces, fading or suddenly something worth telling, that takes time. And the beauty of it is it can take all the time it wants, this story yet to be told. That, I think, is what keep writers going, snatches of stories they might write.
Comment on this rather clichéd liner — one has to be provoked enough to write…
Definitely. One has to be provoked enough to write and one must provoke as a writer.