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She is young, highly qualified, and definitely has a bright future in her profession. But indeed special is the fact that she is socially responsible, and spares no effort to make people realize the importance of women’s (or shall I say human?) rights,empowerment issues, also makes us think about ourselves. How strong am I as I sit alone here?..is the question every reader asks himself or herself while reading her book “A calendar too crowded”. The book is a collection of 22 stories and poems grouped under twelve months of the year, each having days dedicated to protection of women’s rights.
We had a little chit chat with this talented young woman and here is what she had to say
TIF : First of all, congratulations about your book “A Calendar too crowded”. Finally we have a book that questions the concept of womanhood as defined by the society.
Sagarika : Thank you so much for the kind words and this opportunity! I am indeed humbled.
Mainly on “A Calendar too Crowded”
TIF : Every good book has a story behind it. Why “A Calendar too Crowded”?
Sagarika : Every big step needs to have little ones preceding and leading up to it. Having worked in the area of gender studies for about 8 years now, to me change is imperative and high time it should arrive. However, for change to be here we need to start somewhere. We need to keep aside the tea cups over which we gossip and click our tongues, convert the “should’s” to “do’s” and yes set an example before we criticize. A Calendar too Crowded is my first step towards beckoning the change.
Sagarika : Ha ha! Yes indeed, it created quite an uproar at the launch when she said that. My grandmother taught me the concept of “one life”, while others around me learnt from their old ladies the concept of re-incarnation, mine taught me that it is possible to be re-born in this very life! I have always believed that there’s always time if you have the passion and zeal and that you are never too young to make a difference. I have been UNESCO’s youngest delegate at their 60th year celebrations, the youngest ever finalist at the Louis and Brown Client Counseling, World Finals – thus to surpass my age, think and act has been a gift which I strive to do justice every day.
TIF : You have studied at one of the best Law Schools (NLU!) and Management from the world famous Indian School of Business, Hyderabad! How do you think education is a powerful tool?
Sagarika : Education opens up a window to a different world altogether – a world where you learn that people need not be like you for you to like them, where you learn that different thoughts hide the greatest gems, that learning often is a trial and error process and yes that you are never too small to start believing in your dreams. A person to whom learning doesn’t do all this, is merely literate I feel, no educated.
TIF : Women in India are more family minded than career minded. Would you agree? What is the reason behind it?
Sagarika : Before I give my opinion on this I want to ask, why this distinction? It is all about choices! Women in India are not asked their dreams I feel. If it is my dream to raise a family and devote all my resources to that, why should I be judged or even compared to someone who wants to devote her life in some other space?
It is only that women haven’t been allowed freedom that the new found acceptance in all fields is termed as modernism. Had we always had a society where women were respected for their choices, we would have known how futile this comparison is. Allow a child to know what alcohol is in a matter of fact way, chances are that he will turn out to be a responsible adult who doesn’t judge people by their drinking habits. However, shield him from it, he’ll find it cool to “drink” and shun teetotalers as being backward.
TIF : Recently the TV show Satyamev Jayate raised the issue of female foeticide in India. Have you ever come across such cases in your own life? Do you have any solution to this evil in the society?
Sagarika : I have been lucky to be raised in a family where such thoughts are not only considered inhuman but also shameful. However, saying that I will not live in denial of the fact that female feoticide is not far and few in fact just the opposite. I once did a workshop with an NGO from Madhya Pradesh and met a lady there with a stack of photographs. The lady was drugged and tricked to abort her child and the husband had clicked photographs of the female foetus post abortion to show his mother.
The solution is accepting the fact that it happens, instead of just saying that a particular class of the society only resorts to it. Also, no matter how much we blame men, till we as mothers raise sons who are taught to respect women and the gender as a whole, nothing will change.
TIF : A girl in rural India is not aware of the rights she has over education, property and marriage. Do you have any plans in the future to work towards creating this awareness?
Sagarika : We all think that – however, many a times during my journeys to such places and interaction with rural folk, I have been pleasantly surprised at how much they are aware of and how little we know of them. It is high time we let go of the divide when it comes to awareness, for trust me a manicured lady, flipping through an English classic and adjusting her pallu to hide her bruises is just as shameful, if not more! Thus, I have always and will strive to build awareness for people behind a asbestos door as well as the ones behind the heave teak ones.
TIF : Time and again we see books and news and tv stars raising women issues in a very firm but gentlemanly manner. Do you think it is time that we stop discussing on the table and instead start doing something about them?
Sagarika : Definitely yes! While, their picking up such topics does create a stir, it is often owing to their celebrity status and not for the awareness they are trying to create. Also, majority of the times it is just blank noise, all that begins with a bang dies away the moment media coverage stops. It is not only important to raise issues but more important to keep the momentum intact – wish we acknowledged this simple fact.
TIF : Cases of sexual harassment, rapes are rampant even in the posh societies. We can neither trust the law makers nor the law enforcers. In such a situation, what should a woman do? Especially when our chosen leaders clearly blame the girl’s dressing sense on being raped!
Sagarika : Women should teach their kids to talk about it, to stand up against it and not hush them up thinking that they are protecting them. We are Shakti and it is upto us to make our kids realize that before we take on the world. If there’s a mother who teaches her daughter the importance of keeping a chilli spray and her son of not judging a girl by her clothes, the next generation will indeed have a better place to live in.
On a lighter note,
TIF : We have heard you are a salsa enthusiast. Is it true?
Sagarika : Yes, I have learnt salsa for almost 3 years now and am not planning to stop in the near future. I love it, for it makes me fall in love with life!
TIF : Would you like to tell us a bit about your family and your friends?
Sagarika : I come from a traditional joint family with a liberal outlook – oxymoron at its best. However that is what we stand for. While my parents look to be the coolest ones around to other kids, me and my sister know how strictly we were raised. However, today when we look back we agree with all that they did. We are extremely close knitted and maybe that is why I never felt the need to have many friends outside home.
I have a small circle of friends and I know for sure that they are the ones to keep. They keep me going and I know that no matter where I am, I can always call them up when I need them.
TIF : What are your future plans?
Sagarika : Write, read, react, work – and do all this the way I want to, following my passion closely. Be answerable, but only to my own conscious and continue to be the fleeting little butterfly without a care for the world – I know I can make the world beautiful in my own way.
TIF : We have many wonderful young writers from all over the country who are deeply passionate about writing on various issues. What message would you like to give to them?
Sagarika : Read – for there’s no better way to build on the treasure called thoughts.
Listen – for each praise and criticism should only make you a better person.
Believe – for if you don’t in yourself nobody else will.
Write – for the best way to further a passion is to be completely immersed in it.
We need not say anymore. Here is what one reader had to say about her book
A book which brings tears to your eyes and smiles to your faces with equal ease.Through her prose and poems writer Sagarika Chakraborty takes us through a ride of the world as women see and experience it.The different facets of womanhood are inspiring and sometimes downright scary! The broad strokes and succinct interplay of characters also portrays society at large in light and shimmer of grey shades.The many societal issues that this young author portrays almost makes us face a mirror and question many of the practices that we accept as norm.Questions like “Can a daughter in law ever become a daughter?” or “Is our nationality our most precious identity?” -questions that we may not even think of or sometimes shirk to answer will face you many times in this book.Dedicated to woman hood and the trials and tribulations of the same Sagarika has created a “work of art”, nay “a work of heart” that will delight you and make you want to read more from her pen.
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