The stories they had left behind with me in our interactions needed to be penned down. These are ordinary people who had the courage to do extraordinary things… Mohua Chinappa speaks with Vishnu Makhijani
Over a two-decade period, former communications and brand consultant turned writer and voice-over artist Mohua Chinappa had met women from diverse backgrounds, from a tribal Khasi woman who ran a tea stall to a journalist from the northeast trying to fit in the big city to an unassuming college girl who could not anticipate the “consequence” of her brutish rebuke to a man.
Thus, in her debut novel “Nautanki Saala and Other Stories” (Cursive), an average bar dancer gives an old codger the finger he deserves, and many protagonists believe they don’t have it in them. As a result, they deny their feelings, deny their desires, and make poor decisions.
“The stories they had left behind with me in our interactions needed to be penned down. These are ordinary people who had the courage to do extraordinary things,” Chinappa, who in her highly-popular podcast “The Mohua Show” interviews artists, entrepreneurs, and individuals who are working to make their communities economically and socially stronger, told IANS in an interview.
“My journey in writing them was an emotional roller coaster of many myriad feelings. I sunk with their sorrows and arose with their victories. Also I enjoy writing, therefore adding the dimensions to the characters was immensely satisfying,” she added.
The book, she said, placed her back again in the working world.
“It changed my status from a housewife to becoming an author. I was struggling with an identity crisis and this book renewed and strengthened my identity. It also gave me credibility as an writer and a podcaster. It helped me reboot and return into my work life after a gap of nearly 11 years,” the Bengaluru-based Chinappa explained.
How did she go about locating her subjects?
“I didn’t need to locate them. They stayed on from the first interaction to the last. All I did was delve deep into the recess of my memories and the surge of the emotions came gushing back as the characters developed,” Chinappa said.
The stories in the book cover a vast period. Is the world any different today from what it was in the time the stories are set?
“Yes, definitely the world has changed. It has become more fast-paced with less time to ponder. My characters lived in an era when people had simpler lives, heartbreak was considered a serious issue and trust came easier to people in their interactions even with strangers,” Chinappa elaborated.
“While the lives of the people are a testament to the cultural-economic shift in these decades, they are also an attempt to strengthen the feminist who hesitates in confiding,” she added.
Thus, there is a common thread – the voice of the voiceless – running through the stories.
“The common thread running in the stories is the voice of the voiceless. My protagonists are mostly people, who would go unrecognised in a world full of achievers and less dreamers. They speak their hearts out without the fear of judgement,” Chinappa said.
This makes it a must read for anyone who wants to understand and feel emotions such as heartbreak, displacement, betrayal, guilt and winning inspite of all the crazy circumstances.
“It will give the readers an insight into the mind of the feminist who is not scared to confide. The characters are naive, vulnerable yet with a steely resolve to live life on their own terms,” Chinappa maintained.
What next? What’s her next book going to be on?
Noting that her podcast helps her meet many people across the world who have stories to share, Chinappa said: “My next book is also feminist literature. And I hope to finish writing the draft by the end of this year.”
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