Holding up the mirror

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WRITERLY LIFE Prof Shiv K Kumar in his study.
WRITERLY LIFE Prof Shiv K Kumar in his study.

Two Mirrors at the Ashram hits the racks

As promised there are a hundred Ashoka trees shooting into the sky and the marble nameplate does read: Prof Shiv K. Kumar. Ring the bell and the man in white comes out, locks up his black German shepherd into the car and ushers us into his study. The winter sunlight slants into the room through the glass panes, mosquito netting to fill a room full of books ranging from Emily Dickinson's poems to the Plumed Serpent of D. H. Lawrence.Excited about his new novel, called Two Mirrors at the Ashram, being published by Penguin a full 20 years after Naked by God, Shiv K. Kumar takes a step into the mind of the protagonist as well as his own. The man who has written about eight novels and tried his hand at all the genres of English literature, including translation, turns loquacious about his novel: "I have used first person narrative style to create that sense of illusion, while the foreword clearly states that this is a work of fiction. This trick of writing style adds to the immediacy," says the writer"Is it autobiographical? No. The protagonist in the novel Rajesh Sahni is a boozer, womaniser and indulges in all sorts of bizarre things. While I am a teetotaler. Only the first person singular narrative makes the reader feel as if the writer has undergone all the trials and tribulations," says the author.What about the women characterisation? Why are they weak and docile? "It is not my fault that the women are portrayed as weak. There is a character, the protagonist's mother, who is really strong. She is the one who tells the protagonists to rush into the middle of the riot to rescue his Sikh friends."So the story swirls around the Sikh riots of 1984? "I witnessed the riots from the balcony of an apartment in 1984. That's why you can see the graphic nature of the riot in chapters 16, 17 and 18. I saw the killings of young Sikh boys and women. The graphic nature can make people ask the question whether I am anti-Hindu (there is a pamphlet for the book that asks the question: Is the novel anti-India, anti-God and anti-Hindu?) I am not against the religion. I am a writer and described what I saw. My God, the goriness really shakes you up," he says about the novel that will be released by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at his residence in the second week of December.SERISH NANISETTI




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