“I do not mix writing with my life,” novelist B.M. Suhara said at the fourth ‘My Writing, My Life’ programme organised by the Calicut Public Library to facilitate interaction of the public with Malayalam writers here on Wednesday.
“Life is enclosed by physical spaces, family and human relationships but writing is my door to an outside world,” she said.
Born in a conservative Muslim household at Thikkodi in Kozhikode district, Suhara’s family was a bit too restrictive but she read a lot and grew up adoring writers.
“It was my dream to do something with my life, but when the dream took the form of words, my mother was scared,” said Suhara.
Marriage to literary critic M.M. Basheer while pursuing her graduation took her to Thiruvananthapuram and out of her rural confines but the trepidation of stepping into the public sphere, ensured she would not take up a job. Motherhood followed, and the next years of her life was occupied in raising her children.
“My husband had a good collection of books and I read world classics and novels translated from other Indian languages,” Suhara said. “When my children grew up and went pursuing their dreams, a vacuum crept in and I could no more ignore the urge to write.”
Suhara began work on her first novel, Kinavu, but the process took five years. “I constantly wrote, rewrote and reworded to give final shape to the novel.” But a crisis of confidence emerged until her husband convinced her that the work could not be left unpublished.
Like several writers, the transition from the first to second novel was difficult for Suhara too and she decided her store of writing ideas had run dry. Dr. Basheer stepped in again and to provoke or inspire her said, “anybody can write one novel,” Vanitha had then approached her to write a serialized novel and thus Mozhi was born.
Suhara’s most noted work, Aaakashabhoomikalude Thakkol was her critique of polygamy in the Muslim community. The novel dealt with the lives of three Muslim women from different economic classes in society, married to the same man.
Nizhal, her fourth novel was an attempt to step outside the realm of familiar surroundings. The story was set in Thiruvananthapuram, with the characters speaking in the colloquial Trivandrum dialect.
Delving into the writing effort Suhara said, “I write in the daytime after my household chores are done. I get sick if I shun sleep and write at night.”
“Nowadays I feel that without writing, I cannot have a life ahead. The belief that I have more works to offer, fuels my journey ahead.”