Interview with Author C.R. Barath Narayanan
Barath, here are the questions for the interview. You can answer all of them or only a few of them, as long as you are comfortable doing so. Let’s begin:
Firstly, before starting to answer your questions I got to thank you for your beautiful review. That really encouraged me to continue, improve my work and deliver quality goods to the reading public. Thank you so much.
1. What inspired you to become an Author?
In order to answer this question, I should be navigating through my consciousness to visualize my childhood. I was brought up in a religious family, constantly being exposed to religious discourses, or some elder member of the family would be reading out the “children’s” version of the great Indian epics. I really loved listening to them as a child. Whenever I would go to a temple, sit amongst the crowd of spiritual people to lend my ears for a discourse, the person who delivered it never failed to impress my infant heart. I would ask my elders about that person. They would always say, “He’s a great human being. He tells stories to people, in order to improve their lives, and shape them up.”
“He’s a great human being,” no other word is required to sow the seed which grows as a great respect for that human in a child’s heart. Those words also made me develop an ideology. “In order to become a great human being, you’ve got to tell stories to improve people’s lives.” That ideology I developed as a child was trapped into my heart like a rain drop trapped into an oyster’s shell. And the pearl got out to the public years later. I use to write short stories as a teenager, the appreciative phraseologies by people who read it did the pearl hunting job.
2. Your education qualifications show that you have majored in engineering. What made you switch to writing?
I didn’t actually “switch” to writing. If you’ve to use the word “switch,” then you should’ve asked, “Why did you switch to engineering in order to get a graduation certificate, while you’re having writing skills in you?”
I was trained to be an engineer, but I was born to be a writer. If you look into the history of my family, you’ll be able to spot so many people who were into writing in one way or the other. My grandfather (mom’s father) worked in a court, and prepared reports for the judge, the other grandfather (dad’s father) was a school teacher, my dad still has letters written by him stacked in shelves to admire his writing styles (he writes in my mother language, Tamil). My mother was a school teacher, who wrote a lots of plays having Hindu epics as base for the school she worked in. I believe that writing is something which I have in my DNA.
I peeped into creative writing syllabuses of various world class universities, as soon as I came to know that I had a desire to start writing novels. That introduced me to books written by various good writers, those books were encouraging and helpful. They really added some fuel to my burning desires to become a writer.
3. What inspired you to write the book ‘Guild Hostilities’?
There’re lots and lots of stuff to be worried about in our country. Even some educated people hate each other for stupid reasons (discriminating on the basis of caste, religion etc.) I’m just 21, and I have seen too many people doing this; you’ll be able to find a handful of men and women doing this from every Indian sect! Believe me! Either they’ll hate a particular caste, lingual group, religion or skin tone. The worst thing is, people who do this are usually in the higher ranks, and they cause lots of hindrance to people from the sect they hate to come up in life──I’ve some personal experiences too. And I find it as the peak of human stupidity. Women aren’t safe anywhere. People who’ve great talents in them aren’t able to expose themselves due to unnecessary and illogical hurdles they got to face while travelling towards their success. Also, India is gradually losing her respect in the west. People who were saying things like, “We should visit India at least once in our lifetime, the country has great tradition, architecture and history. Indians are friendly and nice people,” now, after tuning to news channels, their idea about India has changed. Now they feel like, “Don’t go to India, never ever. That ain’t safe, especially for women.”
If there’s some poisonous plant growing somewhere at your backyard, the reason for its birth would’ve been due to someone or something sowing a seed over there in the past. Even if you destroy most of the stuff in that plant, it’ll still start growing due to the support it gets from its roots. To kill that plant, you got to find the roots, and destroy it.
India is my home, Indians are my blood relatives. We have a back yard with a rich soil, where we grow fruits and vegetables, and we use them to cook food. One day, I found my blood relatives growing sick, and they started behaving like mad men. A doctor diagnosed the disease, and he said that the disease was called “idiotism,” and people who’re suffering from it will hate each other, and do stuff to kill each other. He said the reason for it was due to the influence of a poison in food. I did a bit of research in my back yard, and found a poisonous plant growing there. Some old guest who’d visited my home in the past may have planted the seed of it there, either by mistake or by will; I wasn’t interested in knowing what his desire was. At the moment, all I got to do is to kill this poisonous plant which influences the good fruits and vegetables we cook and contains poison to install idiotism to the brains of my people. I dug the ground to find its roots, hell! The roots were deeply buried! Some very strong tools are required to pluck it out and burn, the first tool I used to begin my job was a pen. The first job I did was to write Guild Hostilities.
And, I also didn’t wanna be a writer or a movie maker who sees his country burning, and still doesn’t bother to write anything to put off the fire. I’m not a kinda person who says, “I don’t give a f**k about my home being eaten up by flames. I’ve got this beautiful teenage girl with me, and I’ll have nice time running around trees and getting drenched in rain with her.”
4. What are your views about communalism in our country India?
India is a secular country. Anyone can live here, and anyone can practice any religion here. India is built to be secular in order to avoid religious and ethnic conflicts. If some Indian politicians learn the reason for the state’s secular ideology, and work respecting it, then there will be no fights or conflicts in our country. The easiest way to grab your attention is by telling that I’m gonna do something good for you. The easiest way to grab the attention of millions is by saying that I’m gonna do something good for your community. If you’re going to do something good, then you gotta convince people that something’s bad. To prove something’s bad, they make other communities bear the blame of making something in their own community go bad. And boom! Communal violence breaks out! And they gain lots of people supporting them. This’s what is going on in some parts of India.
When people start analysing politicians who work for the welfare of the nation and start supporting them, instead of supporting politicians who attract them by showing welfare ideas for their community to cheat them, that’ll be the sign for a bright future, that’ll be the signalling of the transformation India is going through to live Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam’s dreams.
5. Do you think that communalism in our country was fostered in the pre-independence period or the post-independence period?
90% of the Indians were fighting with each other before the introduction of the British Raj. With lots of betrayals the British accomplished what the great Chanakya thought of doing. Wise old Chanakya was the first man to have recognised accomplishment in having a united Bharat. He united half of India, that’s from the Persian boundaries to some parts of central India. His dream of having the whole of India under a single throne was accomplished by the British. 70% of the Indians were against the British before independence, weren’t fighting with each other, instead they worked as a team to drive the British out of the nation. But, 50% of the same Indians hate each other now, for no reason.
6. Did you research a lot before you wrote your book ‘Guild Hostilities’?
I did do some research for my book. I gave my readers almost all the main information gathered for writing this book. It’s them who gotta say whether it’s a lot of research or less.
7. Do you think it was correct & moral for the British to drag Indian sepoys into the First & the Second World War?
Mahatma Gandhi believed that it was good to employ Indian soldiers to fight against the Nazis. A 21 year old living in the 21st century isn’t a smarter guy than the great old Gandhi to go against his ideologies.
If someone says that they’re gonna collect a huge army to fight against Adolf Hitler at that time, naturally they’ll gain a huge support. Hitler had a huge strong army worthy enough to annex Britain and its territories. India was British’s territory. If Nazis would take control of Britain, then even India would be under the Nazis. No one will want their brothers to be burnt alive, no one will want their children to be used for brutal medical experiments, and no one will want their women to be used as comfort materials for the Nazi soldiers.
Being under the British was better than being under Hitler. Indians weren’t having any other option. You gotta support the British in the war if you don’t want Hitler in India.
8. What are your views about colonialism?
Imagine you’d missed a key in your friend’s home. What will you do? Call him, and ask him to get it for you. He searches for your key and says that he ain’t able to find it. The thing you should do now is to get to his home and search for your key along with him. It’ll be stupid to say, “Hey man, I don’t believe you. I gotta search your home thoroughly for finding my goddamn key! Let me have your home in my control till I find my key, so that I’ll have all freedom to do anything in your home. Don’t worry I take care of your family, they’ll be mine till I find the f**cking key.”
This the logic governments have now if they wish to take control over any country. Replace key by a terrorist who should be in a country’s jail, replace home by the country in which he’s hiding in.
Idiots become terrorists.
Colonialism is worse than terrorism.
Killing people is stupid and bad. Killing people to find people who kill people in order to kill people who kill people to avoid them killing more people is even more stupid and bad.
9. The Nirbhaya gang rape case of Delhi shocked the whole world. Does your character Elnaz who gets raped in your book during the carnage of the First World War have a parallel with Nirbhaya?
Exactly. I was having Nirbhaya in mind while writing about Elnaz.
10. What are your views about the atrocities committed against women in present day India?
A woman is someone who plays two great roles in her life. A mother, a wife. A wife is someone who’s to be considered as an angel gifted to a man by god, she brings light to every aspect of his life; she’s the one who’ll share everything with him mentally, spiritually and physically. She helps him to have sons and daughters who carry his name for generations. The best gift a man can ever have in his life is his wife. A mother is the true builder of the family’s future. Let the woman be working, or a housewife, or a part time worker or anything… a child will have its most intimate and close relationship with the mother rather than the father, irrespective of the gender of the child. A child’s mind will be linked directly to its mother, child thinks like how the mother thinks, irrespective to the time spent by the mother with her child. If the woman’s intelligent, sure the offspring’s gonna be intelligent.
Killing a woman is equal to a mass murder. If a woman is killed, an angel in a man’s life’s is killed. The number of great personalities she’s gonna give this country will be killed along with her. A good mother who has ability to build a strong future generation is killed. If the government is okay with hanging a terrorist, then, it should also be okay with hanging a rapist. A rape is nothing lesser than a terrorist attack which kills so many people. No need to bother about human rights. A person who gets a feeling to torture and kill a beautiful creature isn’t a human being; only beasts do that. Rapists aren’t humans, they’re beasts.
11. In your story Mohamed, Ratan & Michael rescue Elnaz while she was being raped but they took a long time to make the decision to do so. Are the people of India today also that slow to make a decision about saving a woman’s dignity over their own lives?
Yes. They’re afraid of hanging rapists. Not the people of India. But the government of India, they are afraid of hanging the rapists, because they’re afraid of violating human rights. If the duty of punishing rapists is given to the hands of the public, then each and every rapist will be stoned to death. I’m sure.
But, what’s wrong in hanging a rapist? Many countries do that, and it’s accepted there. No one’s considering a rapist as a human being. Why bother about human rights violation? If one rapist is hanged, then the other will be afraid and will not commit the crime. Strict punishment for rape works well in countries like Saudi Arabia.
There’s no time to show kindness for rapists in India, before you finish giving counselling to a rapist who’d raped a girl to change him into a normal kind man, ten other girls are raped! This is going on at an alarming rate.
If this situation continues, Indian women will be extinct, India will be extinct! All these rapists will rape and kill women, take counselling, come out of jail, rape again!
Having Indian rapists extinct is better than having the whole of India extinct!
In the story, Mohamed, Ratan and Michael weren’t properly armed to save Elnaz. They didn’t want themselves to be killed during the operation. So they took some time to make a decision. In India, we’ve a court, we’ve 1.237 billion people who welcome capital punishment for rape, and we’ve got enough ropes to hang all rapists. But why do we still take time to make a decision to kill the rapists and save our women?
12. Mohamed inspite of knowing that Elnaz was a rape victim married her. Would you have done the same if you were in Mohamed’s place?
Of course I would’ve married her. That’s why I wrote a story like that!
It’s madness if someone says that they wouldn’t marry a rape victim! Even if she’s raped, she’s gonna have the same name, same features, same individualism which were loved by people before!
Saying that I won’t marry a rape victim is like saying “Hey man! You know? That girl was bitten by a street dog once. Now she’s okay, but still, would anyone marry a girl who was bitten by a street dog?”
That sounds stupid right?
13. Do you feel that Mohamed married Elnaz out of love or out of pity?
Mohamed took care of her out of pity. He started loving her as he came to know things about her. He married her because he loved her. Mohamed never talks about the rape after saving her dignity and life. In fact he completely forgets how and where he met her. All he had in mind was, “Elnaz is my wife. She’s mine, I love her.”
He never said, “She’s raped.” He always said, “She’s wounded” or “She’s attacked.” He never used the word “Raped” while talking about her.
14. What are your views about the partition of India which took place in 1947 & the carnage it brought along with it?
Unnecessary problems which would have been faded out with time was blown up by politicians who liked to have the uppermost authority in their hands! A great speaker (he was good at speaking. but what he spoke wasn’t good) spoke in Calcutta (British India) about how Muslims will become a minority and face difficulties after India’s independence from the British, which poisoned many kind hearted Muslims. He targeted young people, younger you are, quicker you’ll be poisoned! Young innocent brothers of ours were poisoned, they rouse into anger! Started riots! The riots lasted at the peaceful Calcutta city for three days. Causalities: 5000 human beings (Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs everyone! Men, women, children!)
What the speaker was doing during the riots? Sitting comfortably in his home, listening to the All India Radio which was reporting news about the riots. This was the birth of the idea of partition! The point stressed by the speaker to poison young men was,
“Muslims and Hindus use separate water taps to fetch water in Lahore!”
I read few works written by writers (Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs) who lived in Lahore. All works will have a same thing, repeated again and again in one way or the other,
“As children we weren’t even able to identify which tap should be used by us. We happily shared the water from the same water tap with our friends from other religion. My parents didn’t cause any hindrance to me when I said that I’m gonna play with a friend who’s from other religion. I don’t know how quickly things changed. Lahore was the most peaceful city in the world. When the world was fighting against each other, citizens of Lahore loved each other and were peaceful.”
I’m a Hindu Brahmin. My grandfather didn’t have any friends from other religion. My dad’s best friend is a Muslim. I have friends form almost all religions in India! As generations pass, as we live under a same roof, as we live under a same identity (Indian) for a long time, we start loving each other. The partition was really evil and stupid! The way we people hate each other even after so many years is more stupid!
When India is nearing to be the most peaceful country in the world, I find many people who might spoil it. Now they’ve got another reason to hate, caste and linguistic difference! If those people are encouraged, then I’m sure there’ll be another partition! In a step to kill those hatred feelings from people’s hearts at the very beginning of it, I wrote this book, and I will write many books having this as my aim.
- In the novel ‘Guild hostilities’ some of the main characters lose their lives because of the communal riots during the Partition of India. What message did you wish to bring out to your readers with the death of your protagonists?
Communal violence is worthy enough only to kill people who’re your dear ones. It doesn’t do any good, and you ain’t gonna be benefitted in any way due to communal violence.
16. Your writing style apparently changes in the middle of your book, especially with concern to the dialogues, why is that so?
That’s a great observation! Thanks for making me feel good!
The main character’s life is transformed at one stage. It’s no more gonna be the same! A wrester who fights for fame and money, representing his Guru and patrons doesn’t live a same kind of a life like a warrior who represents the British Indian Army. Mohamed’s gets transformed, he turns into a warrior from being a wrestler!
To indicate that changeover, I used different writing styles!
17. You are an Indian living in a land of a number of beliefs. What philosophy do you profess?
Live, and let live!
People start getting angry with you once you start comparing your life with the lives of the other. Everyone lives a great life according to me. I have no right to peep into the life of my fellow mate, saying that I believe in something better than what he believes in. What I believe is great according to me, what he believes is great according to him. Let me live my own life in the way I want, let him live his own life in the way he wants.
18. Many young authors find it difficult to get a publisher. How was your experience as a young author in getting your work published?
As this is a self-published book I didn’t have any problem in getting a publisher. I did get an offer to publish my book traditionally, but the publisher was from a different country, and the price of the book would consequently so up. My targeted public is Indian. So I decided to self-publish this book. Notion Press is located just 15 minutes’ drive from my home. I walked into their office and got my work done. That was the most comfortable thing I’ve ever did. My next book won’t be a self-published one.
19. Who are the people you are thankful for in making your book what it is today?
Parents. I would’ve not been able to publish my work without their support.
I would like to thank all my friends and relatives who encouraged me to become a writer.
20. Which was the toughest part of your novel which you have still managed to write?
Description of Elnaz’s agony. I tried to put myself in her position first. Read what I wrote after that, wasn’t satisfied. Then, I put myself in Elnaz’s brothers position, imagining like she’s being ragged by brainless beasts in human form, and I ain’t able to do anything to save her. I did it to bring out the emotions in words, but that did affect me a lot. I wrote, I was satisfied with the work, but I wasn’t able to sleep or eat properly after doing it. I felt so bad for her. It took almost a week for me to escape from that feeling.
21. Which was the easiest part of your novel to pen down in words?
Ramaswamy Iyer’s life. His environment is almost the same as the one in which I live. He has a sister, and I don’t have one. That’s the only difference. And I like to have a sister in my life, and I penned down those feelings by creating that character. Janani R Iyer, Ramaswamy’s wife, is the dream girl I have in mind. The way I described her appearance is the definition of female beauty in my mind, the way her character is described is the way I wish my future wife to be. A kind lady with a great creativity and intelligence, she’s bold enough to say things openly, and doesn’t hide any of her wishes from her hubby. She does whatever she desires to do, and at the same time she doesn’t disappoint anyone with her act. I admire those kinda females.
Schieba Mohamed Ali Adnan. I really love that little girl, my favourite character in the novel is Schieba. I enjoyed writing about her. I imagined like having a daughter like her, sister like her, friend like her. And I enjoyed everything! All I had in my face was smiles whenever I wrote about her.
22. The concluding chapters in your book seemed to be very hurried & brief. Were you in a hurry to finish your book?
No. I’ve another story at the same stage. That’s a sequel to Guild Hostilities. I told a lot of stuff at the ending of this novel, but I felt that if I tell those things from a different perspective, then it’ll be more appealing. So I decided to write a sequel. I’ve not decided the title yet, for now, I’ve named the book as “At tent in India.” That’ll be my third book.
23. You have used a lot of modern day SMS terminology in your book. Do you think that will be accepted by many intellectual readers who may consider your work to be historical literature?
Yes they will. William Shakespeare wrote “Romeo and Juliet,” most of the words he used there, most of the grammar he used there were new to the language. He used them to make the language simple, so that his words would be easy for the reader to read as well as remember! People said that he did some service to language. He introduced new words to describe things simple.
I took him as an inspiration. I found writing “You’re” easier than “You are.” “You’re” looks more majestic than “You are.” An apostrophe and omitting an alphabet and a space adds more character to it when I write it down, it looks awesome. Sounds great in mind too if you read, “Youa.” Splendid!
Same goes with gonna, wanna, gotta and all!
24. Are you working on another book?
Yes, I’m working on my second book now. I’ve just prepared a rough draft. Now I’m on a break, at this time, I’m writing the screenplay version of Guild Hostilities.
25. Who will be the publishers of your next work?
I ain’t sure about this right now. I shouldn’t reveal anything about this right now, I guess.
26. You are a young writer new to the field. Will you take writing up as your profession or as a hobby?
You call something which you do to kill time as hobby. If god gives you some talent, then you shouldn’t waste it, it’s a sin to waste it. I don’t write to kill time, and that makes writing not my hobby.
27. Will you be continuing with your education or do wish to keep on writing?
Both. I would like to learn a lot. But, I won’t be going to a college, sitting over there and learn for a degree certificate. Whatever I learn in future, I will be learning by myself, so that I will be able to utilise them in my life. I will learn what I like to and what I want to learn. I won’t be restricting myself within the boundaries of an university’s syllabus, learning things useless to me along with little things I wished to learn within it, and not able to learn things which attract me. I did that mistake once, I won’t do it again.
28. In what genre would you place your novel in?
Drama. A war drama.
29. How do you feel being an Indian of the 21st century?
Irritated. I look back at my dad’s life, and I talk to myself, “Good old days.”
21st century India is a hell, which has got heaven buried deep inside it. We gotta unleash the heaven within it by dusting off stuff like corruption and caste based discrimination.
30. Do you think India was better off with the British ruling them or as an independent democracy?
In many cases the British did injustice (for example, The First World War. The British drained all India’s wealth, and Indians were all dying of famine.)
But, in some cases you gotta appreciate the British rule. (Today, we stay united. The British rule was the main reason. They merged various small kingdoms and called us “Indians”)
31. What are the first things that come to your mind when I say:
- Racism: An idiot’s religion.
- The Indian Middle class: Poor fellas who always get ignored.
- Rape: A person who does it should be hanged to death
- World War 3: The last thing for the humans to do in this world. I’m sure, if there’s gonna be a third world war, no one will be alive after that. Nobody will win, nobody will lose, everybody will die.
Copyright 2014 Fiza Pathan