BOOK Shobha Warrier’s The Diary of A Journalist…chronicles the lives of the marginalised people she met during her 18-year career
This journalist’s diary does not just chronicle the marginalised and their problems but also focusses on the people themselves. Shobha Warrier’s new book, The Diary of A Journalist – The Little Flower Girl And Others delves deeper into the stories she heard in her career, throwing light on the lives of the people they centred on.
“The book is about transgenders, sex workers, those who are HIV positive and others outside the margins of society. People don’t want to see them but I want to give them a voice,” says Shobha, “It all began in 1995, when I visited an ashram in Kerala that takes care of children with HIV. Those days, people discriminated against them and even shunned them, but I wanted to tell their stories. It’s always been about people rather than issues.”
Shobha’s book, an anthology of 36 stories, sketches the lives of various people she met during her 18-year career as a journalist.
“The Little Flower Girl was about a girl who used to visit my home to sell flowers. Something about her struck me, and I began to converse with her everyday to get to know who she was and where she came from.
She talked of the waves and the moon as her friends and how she wasn’t afraid of the dark when these two companions were around. One day, she stopped coming and I waited for a few days before making enquiries. I learnt that a girl had been raped but I wasn’t sure if it was her,” says Shobha. “Another story is about a family that lived on the pavement for generations, with only a sheet of tarpaulin for a roof.”
The book tries to shatter preconceived notions about these people and their environment, and looks at what drove them to take the decisions they did.
“These are images that remained with me after my days as a reporter had ended. I kept a journal to record my experiences — my first meeting with a sex worker, my conversation with an alcoholic and so on. And when a friend read it, she suggested I publish it. It took a couple of months to compile and publish the book,” she says.
How have her skills as a journalist been useful in writing this book?
Says Shobha: “Writing and journalism are both about meeting people and writing about them. In a way, I would’ve never written this book had I not been a journalist.”
The Little Flower Girl and Others is available at bookstores for Rs.245.