International Booker Prize winner Geetanjali Shree talks to Prabha Khaitan Foundation about writing as a form of memory
Geetanjali Shree no longer needs an introduction, having made India proud on a global literary stage. Prabha Khaitan Foundation organised a special Kalam session in the pink city of Jaipur at the ITC Rajputana with Shree, where she was in conversation with the internationally acclaimed education expert, Jayshree Periwal. ApraKuchhal, the Foundation’s Honorary Convenor of Rajasthan and Central India Affairs, welcomed Shree, Periwal and the audience.
At the beginning of the conversation, Shree underlined how precious that particular moment was for her, as the work being done by the Foundation in the area of literature is truly outstanding. “Giving so much attention to books and literature and promoting them both domestically and abroad is a difficult undertaking in today’s world, where so many undesirable things occur,” observed Shree. “For this, we are all grateful to the Foundation”.
As the conversation progressed, Shree said that energy comes from the realization of limitations. “We guess how to transgress this limit,” she said. “The challenge before us all the time is to recognize limits and understand that we have to build bridges to cross them.” What is the purpose of writers? “No writer writes to teach,” declared Shree. “Writers have some excitement of their own. They also want to understand a few things, and they write to understand those things.”
“No writer writes to teach. Writers also want to understand a few things, and they write to understand those things.”
In response to a question about teaching people about loneliness and depression in the older stages of life, Shree pointed out that there are many elderly people who continuously inspire and teach us. “My 96-year-old mother still inspires me,” she said. “Enthusiasm and life remain within us till our last breath.” Shree stated that writing teaches the glory of remembering, and this is one of the greatest gifts for any writer. “We write so that we do not forget or ignore such things,” she said.
What about the inspirations of writing? “If you are sensitive, you can get inspiration from everywhere, be it sadness or happiness,” said Shree. In response to a query about the Booker Prize, Shree stated that her book, Ret Samadhi, may not have attained such a level of recognition without its English translation, Tomb of Sand. “However, a good book is a good book, with or without a translation,” she said. The engaging conversation wrapped up with Shree answering the audience’s questions on life, literature and translation.
Kalam Jaipur was supported by Shree Cement Limited as their CSR initiative in association with ITC Rajputana and Wecare and with the support of Ehsaas women of Jaipur.