“They conferred endlessly with words and shared silences. They found one another as they sheared layer after layer of all the experiences that the world had covered them with during their years apart. They rekindled the bond that had been set aside once but hadn’t been forgotten, almost like an heirloom inside a velveteen box that smelled of vintage perfume and nostalgia!”
FUCHSIA speaks to Sunita Lad Bhamray about her journey as she alters her paths from being a recruiter to becoming a teacher, evolving into a writer; an author of three books, each one as different as each of her occupations. A mother just like you and I, Sunita unravels the experience of something that lay deep within her – a writer, an author, a novelist.
“When I started this project … it is natural for one to be apprehensive. In my case it was even more of a challenge as I was showcasing my innermost skills or, in other words, baring my soul to the world to see, and it was natural for me to be concerned how my writing was going to be accepted. But if I have to be completely honest then I will say this: I was confident that my writing style would be appreciated and, I guess, that self-assurance came through and reflected in each of my books, which have been very well received so far.
As far as publishing goes, once I had finished the first draft of each of my books, I knew that this was going to be sent to the publishers. Each book takes roughly 5 to 6 drafts till its print. The funny thing is that every project I undertake does not get to its final destination.”
When asked about what inspired her to write, Sunita mentioned that she meets a lot of people as part of her journey as an author; people who come up to her and share their experiences, ideas and writing dreams. She finds it quite astounding as to how many people, too, want to write books, and wonder how to go about it.
“One has to make a lot of time for it and, most importantly, one needs to put in a tremendous amount of hard work to take a book from its inception to its end. Additionally, just writing a book is not sufficient. One has to see that one’s work is given validation. It needs to be sent to publishers for eventual publication. Writing a book needs single-minded dedication and conviction.”
Ganga and Jamuna is Sunita’s third book; her first one being a biography on horse-racing by the name of Triumphs of the Turf, and her second a children’s story, Grandma Lim’s Persimmons. So, after writing something as light as a children’s story book, what made her change direction so swiftly?
“Creative writing has always been my forte. I always wanted to write children’s book and there are more in the pipeline too, but something happened somewhere in the bigger scheme of things, and life took me on a different journey altogether. Ganga Jamuna is much more than a book actually. Since it’s about motherhood and anyone who is a mother, has been one or knows one, would be able to relate or reflect on something or the other in this book.”
How did she find this story and why is it so close to her heart?
“I don’t go seeking a story. A story comes to you, holds onto you and takes you along. Having said that, a large part of a story reflects something about the author. A significant aspect about me is my sense of motherhood having 2 grown-up kids; it takes up a large part of your life, and takes precedence over everything.
Another integral part of Ganga Jamuna is this woman, Santhiya, whom I got inspired by, and that’s where Singapore plays a huge role.”
Will she tell us more about the book, and about Abani?
“This woman who came from Nepal who is a mother of 2 specially-challenged children. She came to Singapore seeking medical intervention because of the phenomenal progress we have made in medicine here, and she was given successful assistance. Unfortunately, more problems struck, and life was not easy for her. That essence is what I have drawn from this woman, and from there I have made it my story, where the name is different, the characters are different, there is a hero, there is travel, and there are friends.
Abani isn’t a revolutionary, she takes on a part that she is meant to take on in a different way. Women’s empowerment isn’t about going out and fighting for it. She finds answers with elements of nature, through friends and so many different things.”
What made Sunita change an intense story into a lighter read?
“I feel while writing the book I had to take into account the literary aspect of it as well. I had done a biography before, which was my first book, which was a verbatim account of what transpired; whereas this was more of a novel. A fiction! Although I did my research and met with the doctors who treated her children, I refrained from using too much technical and medical jargon, and introduced metaphors and the words that I like to play with.”
And what about Santhiya?
“I actually went to Nepal looking for her and when I was unable to find her I did a bit of reversed research and met up with Dr.Goh to learn about her. I did a bit of crowdfunding and raised funds in order to support them, and I have been in correspondence with her back and forth.”
What do you want the writer to take away from this story?
“I can’t stress enough on global harmony. I believe these borders and boundaries are man-made. We are all alike! Similarly in Ganga Jamuna, we have the heroine and her problems; and there is the hero. There are 3 girlfriends from different parts of the world who help her along the way. One of them who is based in London is actually from the UAE, and she plays a vital role in her life irrespective of the distance or other barriers.”
Ganga Jamuna is based on a true story but is a work of fiction. It has been published by a Singaporean publishing house Kitaab International Pte Ltd which, with the author, has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for the Napalese family that inspired the author to pen this novel in the first place.
Sunita has represented Singapore as a delegate in the National Book Development Council (NBDC) of Singapore to participate in the New Delhi Book Fair 2015. She has also facilitated book launches in the capacity of an author for the NBDC. The authors whom she helped promote were Low Kay Hwa and Rosalind Lim.
Suinta has been given an endorsement by the Nepal Consulate in Singapore and has been also invited by them to launch the book in Nepal in the latter half of the year along with being invited by the Asian Writers festival in China in November.