Introduction to the Author:
Palak Kundra is a novelist who writes in Hindi. She hails from Amritsar, Punjab. Her debut work, a novel, Bleeding Queens, has been published in August and since the publication, the author has been drawing the attention of the readers as well as the book critics. Here is an interview with Palak in which you can read about her further plans and her current experiences as an author.
Alok Mishra: Palak, why don’t you start with the journey that you took – to be the author first and then the journey to make your voice heard? How difficult or easy it was?
Palak Kundra: You know, there’re thousands of writers who want to express and share their thoughts through imaginative stories, be it romantic, thriller or comic. But there’d been a few who wrote stories that were thought-provoking. Stories related to real issues, be it political, social or some natural calamity related. I wanted to be one of those writers. Fiction can change hell into heaven & heaven into the scariest places. But I didn’t want to do that. I always wanted to be heard first through heart and mind and then to be appreciated as a whole. “If you understand my silence, it’ll be easy for you to understand my words!”. With my fictional book, dedicated to all the Nirbhyas, I actually cried out loud for their help in the manner it must be. Justice has been denied because if the laws were strict there had not been more of those horrible cases. The pain, the agony, Nirbhya’s cry still can be heard with so many others living that dreadful fate.
So I decided to become hers and others voice. And it’s just not only RAPE, I roared against all crimes against women. The difficulty was that I belong to the same society where you can do but can’t say that out loud, words like sex, rape, love, kiss, bribe, and many more. And I am going to challenge those who hadn’t been challenged before.
Alok Mishra: I have read your book. It’s certainly good and rather different. People might say that you have taken a kind of violent or excessive physical or masculine path. How far would you agree to such claims?
Palak Kundra: Well, my applause to those who claim this story to be violent, unjust or whatever. My only question— IS RAPE SOBER AND CAN THEY JUSTIFY IT?
I think instead of pointing me out with what I wrote or how I concluded this story, people should gather their strength and try to change this society’s mentality where, on the footpath, a woman was being brutally raped and all passers by had not a bit courage to ward that rapist off her. Instead, nobody was distracted by her cries. I justified her cries through my book by the hands of DILJIT, who took her revenge, from that passerby too, who instead of helping her, thought, “kyu na main bhi behti ganga mei haath dho lu!” There’s a case happened in maharashtra long back where similarly 6 passers-by along with 7 others raped a girl, total 13, brutally and she died later. Where the hell were these people then? Stop pointing start helping!
Alok Mishra: Bleeding Queens is written in Hindi. Your comments on the choice of language and how did it happen?
Palak Kundra: One line: if our respected prime minister Mr. Narendra Modi can deliver a speech in HINDI at the UN conference, then why can’t I write a book in that same language.
“aakhir raja se hi to prajaa seekhti hai!”
All follow the King!
Alok Mishra: Were you reading any books which inspired you to write this one? Or just the surroundings were responsible for the creation of Bleeding Queens?
Palak Kundra: For this answer, everyone must read BLEEDING QUEENS. The incident that inspired me wasn’t lethal at all, but Yes, it changed my insight. For long story short, I came to know that no matter what a woman proves, she is still just a BODY, a body to be slaved, a body to be raped and a body to be beaten. I am, by no means, generalising the social construct here! Still, in most of the societies, this is what it is!
Alok Mishra: You are raising your voice, as an author, against the menace which is spreading as the greatest nuisance, across the world. Do you think this is because we have failed as a society somewhere? If yes, then where?
Palak Kundra: Everybody knows the answer-Mentality!
A mentality that consists of these thoughts—
I am a man and I am born with the right of enslaving a woman.
I am a man and I can beat her.
I am a man and I can use her as a slave who does all my work.
I am a man and I can rape her as her body is made to please me.
I am a man and I am stronger than her.
I am a man and this is man-made society and she’s bound to obey.
I am a man and she has no rights, thoughts, and freedom.
Because I AM A MAN.
Nothing else, no education, no debates, no laws, nothing can change this, howsoever, and nothing has to do anything with this thinking of self-superiority. And there are women also who follow this self-obsessed male society, blindly.
If there’re a few men, who give respect and equality to womanhood, they are Aliens; I think!
Alok Mishra: Being frank, I literally see two classes of the authors writing today – commercial authors and authors who mean literary business. Do you also feel the same or you differ? What your views are on literature in general in our country now?
Palak Kundra: Godha ghaas se dosti krega to khayega kya? just kidding! But if this kind of issue gets a chance to be shown commercially, like chetan bhagat’s ‘two states’, or ‘half girlfriend’ or J.K.Rowling’s “harry potter series”, then why not? If a picture is worth thousand words, then a movie is worth thousand picture filled with all kind of emotions, situations, and people. Most people don’t get the time to read a book, but they find the time to watch a movie. And as a writer, everyone wants to be known as what he/she thinks or imagine. And it will help our literature also. There’re so many stories which need to be read. But in today’s world, nobody has that much time. All the movies that had been made so far, were a story written by some writer. And when a director unfolds a book/story through cinema, everyone could see that depth of feelings written by the author, merely in three hours. Hence helping the author to write more ‘n’ more imaginary tales.
Our literature has future because no book goes unread ever. As far as for the future of literature in India, depth has grown amongst the writers, maybe not all. Now, a writer uses a real incident/issue to write a story instead of that evergreen Cinderella tale. A different point of pen-view is emerging as when authors take typical stories with a twist and poets with more satirical and rebellious poems. All have changed the word “IF” to “THIS WAY”!
Alok Mishra: What I have felt, as a reader and then someone who reads a lot, Bleeding Queens is the work which revolves around a limited plot which portrays the struggle, dilemma, pain and then retaliation of a powerful woman – Diljit. Was it deliberate?
Palak Kundra: Neutral! Yes because I wanted to convey a message that whatever is happening, all crimes against women must come to a halt now, as after Nirbhaya, Things have been worsened. From a 3 months old to a 100 yr lady, come on? What are we? A Body?
I wanted to people think of a family a society where humans like Karanveer (Diljit’s brother), Rohit (Diljit’s friend), Vishnu (the cunning inspector), do exist who want a change in mentality of filthy people as they respect womanhood to that extent that after so much happened to diljit, all of these characters, even being males, could feel her pain. And not only for her but for all women, these males were being strengthed.
There’re many men in our society who want girls to be successful in every aspect of life but our man-made society pulls them down. Even now, with all such education given through social media to stop crime against women, still women are being blamed for this heinous crime.
No because my story took almost three years of my life, days and nights(mostly nights), for me to write it with just a few characters because if I could have added more Nirbhyas till date, all the ink in the world could have been used. It’s just a story of one family that felt the pain. “aur jise chubhti hai use hi pta hota hai”!
The scratches and marks may heal but the wound remains inside the victim as a RAPE victim alive, dies daily till her last breath.
RAPE is RAPE, the most heinous crime, even more than a murder.
I gave it a twist with my view of a family that not only help her heal but also gives Dlijit the strength to back what has been taken barbarically.
Alok Mishra: What are your further plans for the literary journey that you have started recently? Are you going to stand up to your image of a women issues’ author or you are open to exploring further?
Palak Kundra: Did ever any four girls drunk and drugged brutally raped a guy who wanted to become a doctor or engineer?
Or a woman in her 40s sexually abused a neighbour’s boy of age 18 months?
Maybe there have been cases where men had been abused. I don’t deny, but no such case has been highlighted as what happened to Nirbhya.
Then how can male society justify sexual assault of males by females over a 3 months old rape or a 5-year school girl or an 18-year college going or a 35-year-old housewife or a 100-year-old grandmother on her deathbed?
From female feticide to child rape to forced marriage to dowry cases to domestic violence and much more. In every area, woman are more abused and harassed than males. Even when males abuse, they abuse in the name of women like “teri maa ki , teri behan ki or BC”, Really? So, my writing will emphasize on woman-related issues. But when it comes to mentality, I am sure that mentality of women also needs a change.
They must not accept themselves as merely a body to be used as housemaids or sex slaves, or those who give birth to boys only. They need to respect God’s creation and that is “THEM”.
Alok Mishra: Thanks for your time, Palak! I wish you the best and success in your writing ventures and the current book Bleeding Queens!
Palak Kundra: Thank you, and I’ll definitely change mentality with more stories. And that’s Affirmative! Lastly, I want to add and ask all those males who think women as nothing, what will they do at last when all the girls are raped and killed by them? who will they marry? Who will they love because if there’ll be no woman left, there will be no man!