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Anita Nair - A Prologue
By Sapna Anu B. George

With "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?

        "It 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. How?

         "Actually, it is seldom the larger things that inspire us but the smaller mles".

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 about it".

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 faade 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 nave to say there are no sex scandals. It is everywhere, but it is hush-hush and suppressed".

What 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 aggrandisement".

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 cuisine".

         "I love 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".

         "My leisure time activity would be a walk on the beach in moonlight" if the time and place allows.

How do you plan a book?

         "Once 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.


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