IT’S 99% PERSPIRATION

Posted: October 30, 2011 in Interview, The NamoLeague Times
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SAYS ESTHER DAVID IN A TÊTE-À-TÊTE ON THE WOMEN’S DAY. HER QUESTION TO ALL OF US: IS THE MODERN, GLOBAL WOMAN LOSING OUT ON THE TRADITIONS AND VALUES? ADITI RINDANI

• You are into so many activities. How do you manage to justify all?
I am a creative person. For me, creativity is more important than anything else is. I am also much disciplined, when it comes to work hours and projects. So, basically, it is about creative time management and depends on how you make your own timetable. I give a deadline and as far as possible, I stick to that deadline.I am not a morning person, I start work after 3 in the afternoon and that could be up to anytime in the night!

• What is the central idea of your books? 
Writing is my method of understanding myself better. As I belong to the Jewish community, I create a lot of fiction based on that. I grew up as a part of a minority community, in a country like India, where there are so many other communities. The main concern is how to keep your identity alive, as well be an Indian; because ‘Indian’ is a general and large term. I am not religious, but we all belong to a particular area or fields – say for e.g. the writer’s field. In midst of all these, you need to create your own self. So, I write about the Jewish life, especially Jewish women, because this is a group that is unknown to the world.

• Any inspirations?
Writers generally give a definite thing for their inspirations. But for me, there is no such muse. The only inspiration is my life, by heart I am an artist, because I was trained as an artist. While by profession, I am a writer. So I would not say that I saw a flower open or a child smile and I got inspired!

It is 99% perspiration. You have to keep yourself inspired all the time to write. Actually, this applies not only to writing, but also to whatever you do.

• How has the journey been from being an art student to a successful writer & journalist?
I used to write since I was an art student. It used to be about art and art history though, as a part of the studies. I was told by my professors that I was good at it and should continue with writing. It was then, in 1978 that I decided to switch my career to writing and did not wish to be an artist anymore.

I did not hold a professional degree in Journalism and was a student of Fine Arts. However, I got an opportunity to work for a newspaper as an art writer. In those days, we used to get almost half a page for our write-ups. So I could experiment and learn as well while writing. In the meantime, I discovered that I could do something better that would be more satisfying. Art had a limited scope. I have always believed that creativity is like a room with many doors. You should be able to open any door, and I felt that through my writing I could open many more doors. I could express myself better through the power of my pen and when people sit back and relax, I totally changed my career interests, at the age of 46. I turned to serious writing and got my novel published. It did well and my literary voice became stronger and stronger day-by-day.

Now, writing is my life, if I don’t write, it makes me feel miserable!

• What is your take on today’s women?
It’s very interesting but unfortunate that even when we are celebrating International Women’s Day and women are into different fields, we have absolutely no idea as to how this liberation came. There is no knowledge as to why do we celebrate this Day and where did this freedom come from. What is feminism, what is women’s liberation – are some questions that I usually ask people I meet, especially if they wish ‘Happy Women’s Day’. Today we move about freely in western clothes. But do we even know how difficult it was for women in the 40s and 50s? We cannot forget our past. Today’s woman who is multi-tasking and is efficient, lives in an era of ‘womanhood’. But sometimes I see that women forget that you are an individual, you also have a creative life your own that needs to be explored. Besides this, in this fast moving global world, materialistic pleasures are becoming more important. And in this race, we forget our basic values of being a woman, a family-maker, a mother. Today’s women are working hard and meanwhile, the family structure has a lesser priority. Children are left to themselves and the concepts have changed.

This may sound old-fashioned. But I really wonder, are we forgetting our values and the warmth of our traditions? Of course, there is no harm in being a global woman, but there is much more to be an Indian woman. This question needs to be explored. Are today’s Indian women ready to sacrifice in order to retain the values and the culture?

• Is there any particular issue about the modern women that affects you the most?
I think retaining culture, traditions and rituals – these are the three things that I find lacking a lot. Of course, you see them enjoying Navratri and other festivals with all fervor, but that is at a commercial level. So I feel it is the duty of the women to be more conscious to spread the culture, not only in the household but also beyond that. It just does not end by becoming modern or saying that ‘I am free’. Free of what? Nobody on this earth can be free of certain values and traditions.

• Can you share an incident that is the most memorable for you?
One of the very important moments was when I received the courier of the first five copies of my first novel ‘The Walled City’.

Second was when I received the Sahitya Academy Award. My son called me up at 10.30 in the night as the news came to the press and he works for one.

And the third was when my first grandchild was born, to my daughter in Paris, France. I think being a grandmother changed everything: my relationships, my talks, my meetings. So being called ‘Nani’ is the high point of my life!

• Your message to the society on Women’s Day?
I think traditions and heritage, is what we all women need to hold on to, in order to survive. I wish them all the very best and may they get the courage to fulfill all their responsibilities.

(Esther David is a Jewish-Indian writer, an artist and a sculptor based in Ahmedabad. A columnist for leading English Dailies and an author of a few novels, she says ‘I am just a seed of a buried tree!‘)

Read original article at: http://epaper.namoleague.com/EpaperArticle.aspx?title=It%20s%2099%25%20Perspiration_545

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