Purva’s third book ‘She’ was released in August, 2021. She has previously authored a book of short stories, The Trees Told Me So (Dec 2017) and It was the year 2020 (Feb 2021). In this interview we find out more about what inspired her to write ‘She’, who it is for, and discuss womanhood.
What inspired you to write ‘She’ and how has the book been accepted by the public?
Purva: In one line: To confess that among the many things I don’t understand, most are feminine.
Over the decades, women have been told and sold the same s**t. We’ve grown up; yes, hence we’re now telling and selling the same s**t to our daughters, granddaughters, siblings, cousins, colleagues…
This work is a written extension of the babble we’re fed and that we feed off. It is not an attempt to connect any dots.
In more lines: Often, I was and still get asked how it feels to be a woman. I stay bemused for I don’t know how to be anything else, except being one. She chose me. I simply caved in. Being a woman is like running on a treadmill, you don’t “quite” get anywhere. You pick up each day from where you left the previous day. The book is the answer to the question that many of us are asked!
To answer your second question, I’ve made a request in the book, which is: don’t lend (borrow) this book. Buy a copy or gift it to another. Let’s support one another. Also, it will make the publisher happy. But mostly, it will help me pay for a blackheads removal treatment. And you know how much that means to us, and how at times we’ve to deal with its counterparts, whiteheads too. In short, I hope you make (have made) a purchase and encourage others to do so too. Get a copy for you and your girlfriend, and even male friends deserve a copy of this babble. Get a copy to celebrate yourself and one another.
Since the book came out in August 2021, the books have been gifted sans occasion by so many girl friends to one another that it began to trend on online bookstores under the gift section. I was thrilled when I learnt that other than that women were gifting it on birthdays, festivals and beyond. And since it is written in a workbook style — I receive notes from women, who are writing in it as they are reading it. So, I would say it has been accepted phenomenally well.
Among so many subjects you explore in the book, which ones are your favorite and which were more difficult to navigate?
P: In the pages, we celebrate waxing woes and bad hair days, we tick the boxes and break the rules, and we apologize for getting old and feel guilty when promoted at work. We speak of unwanted advice, as we offer some too. We sigh, smile and scorn. We observe, absorb, judge and compare. We own our space. It would be difficult, rather impossible to pick a favourite, for I would say each aspect of womanhood is beautiful, essential.
What was difficult to navigate was to select the range of topics! So, if at any moment, you feel I’ve not covered certain subject matters important to you as a woman, as an individual, then yes, you are right. There’s a lot left unsaid, uncovered here. But then, come on, there’s only so much a woman can do. Right? Well, this is a work-in-project. This book, like us, is discovering aspects of womanhood. So, let’s settle on that, at the beginning itself. Also, I shall work on a sequel. Let’s also agree to disagree as we go along. I value your opinions and feelings, and I hope you can value mine and of those who confided in me.
Is your book a reflection of your experiences only or have you also shared stories of women around you?
P: I’d say a lovely, dangerous blend of both. You me, her, she, us, and them. The subjects of the book are women I know. It’s not a case of pure coincidence but pure intention. No research has gone into the book unless you consider banter over drinks, on long distance phone calls or by water coolers. It’s for all the women I knew, know and will know. I don’t wish to expose the individuals who confided in me or embarrass myself so I’d like to state that it is a work of fiction, heavily inspired by real lives. Even when I talk about myself, remember, I could just be making up some bits. I am a storyteller, after all.
Many of the quotes have become great conversation starters on social media. Do you feel the book has the power to bring the community together?
P: Definitely. The book has that power for when words are honest, they can bring a change, touch hearts, and awaken minds. I can only hope we never lose faith in words. It’s already brought many people together, and I feel it is just the beginning.
What do you like the most about being a writer?
P: Everything. As a writer, you get to live every experience thrice – once, when it’s occurring, two when he/she thinks about it before penning down, and third when it’s finally written! Isn’t that beautiful? I make note of a thought that may not come back. I scribble down a memory that I wish to cherish. I pen down a character when I meet an individual I hope I could immortalise. I let the sceneries, objects and people around inspire me. I express a feeling. I share the joy. I spread the love. I voice the anger. I complete what I start. I make the words count. I write.
Tell us more about how the concept of nostalgia continues to always inspire and nurture your work?
P: Nostalgia is my biggest strength, inspiration. It’s my writing that allows me a chance to rewind – and to be able to rewind life is a rare, beautiful occurrence. It’s my mirror to what lies ahead, just as it is reflection of what was.
You are an author, journalist, poetess, playwright, stage director, TED X speaker and creative entrepreneur. How do you manage to wear all these hats?
P: I truly believe in every word I write and every project I sign up for. I would never want to stop exploring the various forums to reach out to others, to use words and arts to make a difference, to bring a change, to start a conversation, and more. I write, relentlessly and passionately. For I believe that the world needs stories and irrespective of the number of obstacles I face (yes, rejection slips from publishers are many), I simply fill up an empty sheet with words. I manage to wear all the hats, for they make me a better person and allow me to make sense of the world.
Would you describe yourself as a feminist? Pro-women? Do you feel the society today has unhealthy expectations of women?
P: Not at all, I am not a feminist. I am pro-individuals. I feel the society has unhealthy expectations of all of us, especially if we’re unwilling to make noise about what irks us and stand together to fight the wrongs.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
P: No advice, just a huge pat on the back. I’d say: You were so good and I’m amazed at how you handled it all, shone and rose, each day. I’m happy you made the mistakes you made, for that’s what made me, me on this day.
How did your upbringing influence your role as a woman?
P: I was brought up with the freedom to explore be it food, play areas, clothes, books and beyond. And I never shied away from exploring, falling, failing and rising up again. I grew up watching parents, who worked hard, with sincerity and who filled up our home with love and warmth and I learnt that as an individual, as a woman, if you may, I need to simply focus on filling up days with it.
What are your thoughts on the gender movement in the time we live in?
P: I think there’s too much focus on gender, these days. And whilst a lot has not changed, we’ve walked a few steps forward. I wish the focus was more thought and action driven than hashtag driven, which as we all know, lies until the trend does.