"the girl next door" looks - charming and composed - Anita
Nair stands apart sagaciously from the usual trend and scenario
of an Indian writer. The rustled hair and the carefully
careless look add a touch of spirit and poise in her statuette,
which in turn gives her an air of prominence. As a maverick
writer, with a thought process that is independent in style
and insinuation, she exhibits an amazing depth in her narration.
Anita would not fit into the conventional thought wheel
of a novelist. She lives in Bangalore with her son and her
husband who works in advertising. Her roots firmly are planted
in Mundakotukurussi, Kerala, about which she is proud and
narrates perceptibly in her books. Her strong and valid
reasoning and comments on social issues, such as: "why should
we change the prevailing traditions?" are looked upon by
society with awe and respect.
A Glance into the life
of Anita Nair
When you look back, how do
you think you were inspired to write?
was not an intentional act, though there was a serious desire
to publish. I always enjoyed writing and as the theory goes,
you sing because you enjoy singing, you feel the need to
do it. No one waits for an appreciation or praise to elevate
you; it is like an inner calling. While working for an advertising
agency, I just wrote a short story and left it on my desk.
My friend, who read it appreciated the story and suggested
taking it to an editor of Times of India. A year later,
he suggested publishing an anthology of my short stories
and my books started appearing on the stands".
Which was the first published book?
I chose a publisher by the alphabetical order and so I wrote
to 'Har-Anand Publications', based in Delhi, who agreed
to publish my book without any apprehension. My first published
book, a collection of short stories, called "Satire of the
Subway" earned me a fellowship from the Virginia Centre
for Creative Arts".
Your novels always depict the inner
depth of the characters' feelings. For example, in "Mistress",
you feel the pain and the degradation a Kathakali artist
feels and that becomes the backdrop of the entire book.
"Actually, it is seldom the larger things that inspire us
but the smaller mêlées".
Why melancholy or sadness becomes
a basic feeling in most of your poems and novels?
"In all human beings there is always a shriek of melancholy".
Tell us something about your inspirations
to write poems.
"Malabar Mind" rakes through almost all the basic feelings
of my characters. The day-to-day incidents and narrations
give me a gripping feeling of inspiration.
You have narrated in your site: "my
mother is more embarrassed about my grey hair than my narration
of sex. Now, what do you think of the narration of sex in
novels? Does that enhance the true sense of feeling or does
that give you more confidence to write about the character?
"I am not ashamed about sex; I felt it perfectly natural
as I was narrating another area of sensuality; perfectly
natural like the feel of a silk cloth of the sensual pleasure
of a delicious dish cooked and eaten. I just see it as an
appetite. It does not make me even remotely ashamed talking
What is your opinion about the current
social issues that are going on in Kerala - 'Gods own country'
who were respecting women and giving equal status to women?
Was it all a façade or a cover all these years for politicians?
"It happens every where, not only in Kerala. The political
issues and society are so strongly bonded; they almost co-exist.
We should think about our existence. The nature of the state
being what it is and with the high level of education, we
do not have opinions of our own. In Bihar or Jharkhand,
you would not find this much of impact. In Kerala, it is
an issue. A few stray comments I made on 'Asianet' are discussed
and debated by all kinds of people. Its very naïve to say
there are no sex scandals. It is everywhere, but it is hush-hush
do you think of Social work and helping the society? Now
-a -days it is fashion. Does a true humanitarian need publicity?
"Now-a-days it is all publicity stunts and each and every
one needs to give themselves an issue to cultivate for self
We have heard fantastic reviews about
your books, novels and collection of poems. Do you have
any message to give to the young generation?
"It worries me a bit that a lot of Indians, including Keralites,
do not attach dignity to labour. It does not matter what
you do as long as it is honest kind of livelihood. The young
generations should be given the feeling that every work
has its value and respect. It is a funny thing that people,
especially the young generations, are seldom consistent
in their approach to it. This is all because we have forgotten
the old habit of reading a book, a good poem or a short
story. Instead, computer and internet have replaced the
old habits; we should really bring back the habit of reading".
Enlighten us about you, your favourite
food, music and leisure activity.
"I love traditional Indian food - especially the Kerala
food. But given a choice to eat out, I would relish Italian
all kids of music. While I am working, I listen to instrumentals
and western classical ,depending on the mood and what I
am doing. I like jazz and soft romantic music, though, my
all-time favourite singer is definitely Queen and Cat Stevens".
time activity would be a walk on the beach in moonlight"
if the time and place allows.
How do you plan a book?
I think of a story line or when an outline sets in my mind,
I sit through the book; I progress from scene to scene.
When I am done, read through and re-work. As I write, the
plot or the main theme of the story progresses. The crux
of the story is always there in my mind, but the story is
evolved. The first draft is always by hand and then I key
it in. My publisher reads it".
Bringing the persona back into focus
raises the question what lies behind the heart of most successful
novelists, like Anita, who has completed not less than 4
novels, and a collation of short stories called the "Sayr
of the Subway". The secret of her instant success is how
she delves in to peoples personalities. The perfect example
for this is her latest novel "Mistress" (Oct-05), about
personalities. The perfect example for this is her latest
novel "Mistress" (Oct-05), a Kathakali dancer. Perhaps she
is the first Indian author to be published by Picador U.S.A.
Her third book, "Ladies Coupe" (April-01), was rated as
one of the top five books of the year and has been translated
into more than twenty-five languages around the world. "Malabar
Mind" (1997), her debut collection of poems, depicted human
emotions in words of poetry, which flows through your mind
due to her perfect consortium of emotions.