(By Reecha Agarwal Goyal has been nominated in the category of English Non- Fiction for the REC-VoW Book Awards, 2019.)
Excerpts from the interview with Reecha Agarwal Goyal:
By Shweta Kapoor
This is your first book. How did you come up with the idea for the book, and what made you start writing it?
“Beautiful baby,” said an elderly lady who was sitting in the park where I was perambulating with my little one, one day.
“Thank you,” I smiled.
“Girl or boy?” she asked.
“Girl,” I said proudly.
“Don’t worry. By God’s grace, it will be a son next.”
I couldn’t help but stare at her in disgust.
“Whatever makes you believe that I am anguished over having a daughter, and not having a son?” I asked, still appalled at her presumptuousness.
“Well, let’s be frank,” she said, “a boy is needed to take care of a family.”
“And a girl to take care of two . . .” I said
The seed of this book was planted in my head, on that day.
What was the writing process like? Can you tell us about the process? Was there a lot of editing, re-conceptualisation? Can you name a few people who supported you through this process?
There was neither a set process nor a fixed timetable for me. A particular emotion would spring inside me, wrench my guts and choke me until I would give words to them. Each snippet in this book was born this way.
Your book explores a lot of themes of love, longing, isolation, gender discrimination and heartbreak. Do all of these come from personal experiences? Which theme in particular is your favourite, or closest to your heart?
In a way, yes. I took injustices against women (whether I know them personally or not), very personally.
She was killed the day she was the most excited. The day, her parents saw her on the ultrasound screen.
Female foeticide stabs at my heart with the sharpest of all daggers.
Your book is about women, and the many discriminations that they continue to face today. Who are the women in your life that you look up to, those that have inspired you to tell this story?
Before anyone else, I look up to and am eternally grateful to the woman in the mirror. I believe self love and self respect is extremely important and everyone should be the hero of their lives.
You write that your children bring out the writer in you. What role do you think parenting plays to create a gender-just world, and what advice do you have for other young parents?
Yes. They make me question every set notion that I hold. They make me see things with a new pair of eyes.
The foundation of a gender-just world can be laid down only by parents. Only in a home can the feelings of equality be born and nurtured. The daughters shouldn’t be told to dress modestly. The sons need to be taught to respect girls. Also, no activity should be gender-stereotyped.
The sons have to be taught to actively share the load of domestic chores at home and the girls have to be taught to be emotionally and financially independent. Our daughters HAVE to be fiercely independent!
How was your first experience in publishing? Can you tell us about the challenges that you faced?
I faced multiple rejections but it never disheartened me. I believed in my work and I waited patiently for my manuscript to be seen by the right publisher. And eventually, it did land up in the right inbox.
Are there authors/poets who inspire you? Which book are you reading right now, that you’d like to recommend to our audience?
My all time favorite is ‘The Fountainhead’ by Ayn Rand. This book makes you fearless. Its message is simple yet powerful – pursue excellence, not success; enjoy the journey, don’t worry about the destination.
Reecha Agarwal Goyal loves to describe herself as ‘fragile but unbreakable! She sports messy hair and is usually the most silent girl in the room. She is yet to find something that could heal better than a pen, a book and a cup of tea. She loves mulling over life and is mostly seen dwelling in her fictional and poetic worlds. Of all the roles that she plays in life, that of a mother is her favourite. ‘Such Is HER Life’ is her debut book. The book highlights the journey of a woman from the ‘cradle to the grave’. She lives in New Delhi with her husband and two children. (She calls them her own little universe.)
For the complete interview, log onto www.valleyofwords.org