In conversation with Bragadeesh Prasanna: Author of ‘Waterboarding’

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Question: What inspired you to choose the title of your novel and how is it connected to the narrative of amnesia of the protagonist in the story?

Bragadeesh Prasanna: Thank you for such an insightful question. Waterboarding, as you know, is a torture technique in which the victim is subjected to water treatment with a towel or damp cloth in his face. While the body knows it is not drowning, the mind tells that they are drowning. The torture technique depends on the thin strand of time between hope and hopelessness. A space where it is dying and not. Most people’s life flash before their eyes in that time inbetween.

The protagonist and the other two main characters of the novel, metaphorically go through this in-between time where they are hopeful of their future at one point of time only to be go hopeless in others. The novel talks about such self inflicted tortures people go through their life because of the choices they make. The lead character Ved suffers from traumatic amnesia where he had no recollection of major chunk of his life. He is caught in between the hope of the future and the weight of his past which, whether he like it or not, impacts his present and possibly his future. Sara, Ved’s best friend had been waiting for so long for Ved to see her true feelings for him. When she had given up this accident and Ved’s amnesia gives her a hope to start their relationship afresh. She does all she could to reshape his past to fit her narrative she is feeding to Ved. But her conscious keeps gnawing her whether what she does is morally correct or not. Even when things are going well for her, she is afraid of an impending doom. The third character Maya, also goes through such phase where she couldn’t understand Ved’s feeling for her and his trust issues. She grew up in a Tier-2 town with nobody to care for her. She clings on to Ved as he gives her his full attention. While she gets that from him, she wonders whether if that is all she needs from Ved.

The amnesia is a metaphor to the fast moving life of our times. People are getting very comfortable to hide their feelings than tell it aloud. These hidden feelings are forgotten after a while. But the feelings they felt before has impact on their present and future selves. This story is the struggle of these three characters trying to take off the wet towel off their faces and to stop torturing themselves. Whether they succeed or not forms the crux of the story.
Hope I have given a satisfactory answer. We, writers are encouraged by such insightful thought process of the readers. We write in hope to find such minds which resonates with our thoughts and concept. Thanks for being a diligent reader. You are doing the world of literature a great good.

Liebster Award Nomination

Thank you, Pritha Lal, for nominating my website for the Liebster Blog Award!

I am deeply moved and touched by this feeling of a community fostered by fellow bloggers/authors like you. It is great to know that we appreciate each other’s work, and support each other through gestures like this.

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The Rules 

1. Link back and thank the blogger who nominated you in your post.

2.  List 11 facts about yourself.

3.  Answer the 11 questions asked by the blogger who nominated you.

4.  Pick 5 – 10 new bloggers (must have less than 300 followers) to nominate and ask them 11 new questions. Do not re-nominate the blogger that nominated you.

5.  Go to each new blogger’s site and inform them of their nomination.To learn more about the Liebster Award, check out this post in Pritha’s blog:

http://norhymeoreason.wordpress.com/2014/05/13/pritha-lal-mom-blogger-poet-author/

 

 

11 random facts about myself

 

  1. I used to hate a glass of milk with Bournvita for breakfast when I was a child. Am in LOVE with it now. Reverse aging, I guess  🙂
  2. I am crazily in love with ashen clouds and rain, but have almost forgotten the ethereal charm of monsoon since the day I left my hometown for the US.
  3. Motherhood for the first time was a conscious choice and for the second time (only twenty three months apart), was an accident. I had doubts about raising two kids of almost the same age, but almost four years after my younger daughter is born, I am happy that I took the plunge!
  4. Reading and watching movies were two dangerous addictions of mine till 2009, after that, online social networking has been added to the list. Had made Orkut my home in 2008 and now have migrated to Facebook  😛
  5. I am a night owl ever since I can remember, though I have never been a fan of late night parties and disks. I keep my nights to myself, reading, scribbling—anything that bares open my soul.
  6. I am a staunch believer of the saying: “What goes around, comes around.” Life is a full circle and I believe in the intrinsic value of good Karma.
  7. Lately, I have been almost obsessing about after-life, and am reading every available book, article and resource on the subject. This is a current development after my mother’s sudden death. I never realized I was so close to her when she was alive. I can do anything on earth to speak to her for one last time.
  8. I still don’t know how to swim and drive, but I want my daughters to learn these two skills in the right time.
  9. I have loved watching fairy tale romances on screen, but have never believed in that in real life. I have loved and lost a number of times before getting married to my husband, and even after nine years of an apparently smooth, compatible married life, do not believe in the concept of a soul mate. There will be differences, there will be arguments, there will be imperfections always in a relationship and you will have to constantly work to make the best out of everything.
  10. I am all done with self-sacrifice. I have done that a lot in various phases of my life and understood that it is a meaningless practice. I do not want to die a martyr for anyone or anything in the world. I am a lot happier now that I have developed streaks of narcissism in my thirties. Wish I would have understood it much earlier in my life.
  11.  I want to visit all the glorious historical, natural, geological wonders of my country, India before I die. I have a tremendous sense of redemption living far away and also a degree of alienation towards my roots apparently, but deep down, I carry it with me, wherever I go.

Questions in Pritha’s blog, which I am answering, to keep the chain alive: 

1. Name three secrets that you never told anyone. 

(1)   I read Maitrayee Devi’s celebrated Bengali novel ‘Na Hanyate’ when I was in grade 9, tucked carefully with high school textbooks. I imagined I had a lover like Mircha Euclid, the hero of the novel who would woo me and then we would be separated, in a predictable turn of events, only to meet years after, to rediscover the inextinguishable flame in our hearts.

(2)   I have never cooked anything in my life with any success before getting married. Once I attempted to make an egg poach without either water or oil and you can imagine what the results were. However, I have currently taken an avid interest in the pursuit, because I have understood that it is a creative art like writing, painting and music. Like all arts, it has taught me that practice leads to perfection.

(3)   My husband had lifted me up in his arms for a single day in his life. It was the day when I first arrived our home in Buffalo, NY after four months of tying the wedlock. He also did all the welcoming rituals for me, the new bride after I stepped my feet for the first time in the living room. He copied the idea from ‘Chalte Chalte’, the Hindi movie starring Shahrukh Khan and Rani Mukherjee. It was the first and last time since our lives have been inspired by a scene from a commercial Hindi movie.

2. If you won the lottery, what would be the first thing you would do?  

My plans will depend on how much money I will win. If it is a lump sum amount, I would want to buy a sprawling house beneath a majestic mountain, anywhere in the world, or a beachside condo with half of the money won. With the other half, I would want to invest on good education for my daughters and also donate to a reputable trust/foundation or non-profit organization working for the rights and empowerment of the girl child.

3. Looking over the last ten years, what is one goal you have achieved and one that you have not achieved?   

Ten years before, I had graduated from a coursework in Journalism and discovered my true calling—writing. Ten years down the line, I am still trudging the road; and I know and happily accept that writing is only the journey, not the destination. I welcome the journey with open arms, and believe that in this ordeal,  there nothing like ‘achieving something in ten years’ and ‘not reaching the goal in five years’. The journey is more subtle and organic in nature. I am happy that I have been able to complete two book length manuscripts very recently, one a memoir and the other, a compilation of poetry. In the coming years, I would look forward to writing more and being published more often, so that I can reach out to more readers and make a tiny impact on their minds with my words.

4. What are your plans for retirement? And will you travel, if so where and why? 

I do not have any, because I am both a student and self-employed for a long time now. Will think about it if I ever get into a full time job. Don’t know what my husband’s plan would be then, but knowing his kind, I guess he would like to travel to some niche destinations, either in the US or in India, or both (depending on the circumstances).

5. Favourite drink on a Friday night? 

I am not much of a fan of any drink, very occasionally maybe a few sips of martini or pina colada. I love my favorite mango, vanilla or strawberry ice cream scoops  with a nice movie, lazing on the couch on a Friday night.

6. What do you think the secret is to a good marriage or relationship with a significant other is?   

To love an imperfect partner perfectly, and unconditionally. The acceptance that not any of us is perfect is important, and expecting too much is not practical. Also, never take each other for granted, for all the love in the world that you may be feeling for each other. 

7. Name three words that describe your personality.  

Short tempered, yet forgiving, choosy, loyal and forgetful. 

8. Home-cooked meal or take-out?  

Take out Thai, Chinese or Indian food.

9. When was the last time you blogged and what was the topic?  

I try to post as randomly as possible. My blog page is only four months old and has only 31 posts as of now, but I try not to go for numbers, but the quality of the posts. I am trying to do some translation of the Bengali poems and songs of the bard Rabindranath Tagore, and my last post was my first attempt at that. Though I know quite a number of exponents are doing the same, but I am trying to do it in my own way as a humble tribute to my mother who had first taught me to fall in love with his poems and songs.

10. What do you think the key is to happiness?  

Live and let live, enjoy the simple pleasures of life by loving your own self and loving those who matter to you.

11. Who is your favorite poet and why? 

I have been inspired by the romantic poets in English since the days I started studying English literature, specially John Keats and his fabulous odes. Later, John Donne, Robert Browning’s love poems, specially ‘The Last Ride Together’ had a lasting impact on my mind. Today, after a decade, I am more in love with the fiery, robust poems of Maya Angelou. I am awed by the surrealist poems and the love poems of Pablo Neruda. In Bengali, I feel there is a treasure trove of poetry starting from Tagore to Shakti Chattopadhyay, Sunil Gangopadhyay and Joy Goswami. Each of them inspires me with rich, vivid imagery and the magic of their words which are timeless and universal.

I loved the thoughtful questions in Pritha’s blog, so I decided to stick with them. If you don’t feel like answering one or some of the questions, you are always welcome to come up with your own ones. I am adding three more questions  and answers to the list:

12. What is your favorite genre of writing? Any favorite author?

My first love–poetry, fiction and last of all, creative nonfiction, as I have developed a taste towards that genre much later in life. Tons of favorite authors have inspired me from time to time, so it is very difficult to choose any particular favorite. Short stories have always been my favorite and O Henry tops the list of my favorite short story writers. Besides, I have been deeply inspired by the works of Indian writers in English, including Salman Rushdie, V.S. Naipaul, Amit Chowdury, Amitabha Ghosh, Jhumpa Lahiri.

13. Are you afraid of death?

Used to be, pretty much, had been consumed by the fear of losing touch with all the beautiful things in this planet, but recently, studying a few books about the existence of our soul changed some of my perceptions regarding death. These include Dr. Eben Alexander’s ‘Proof of Heaven’ and Anita Moorjani’s ‘Dying to be Me’.

14. What would be your last wish before you die?

To see the glitter of life in my two daughter’s eyes, to know that I would be alive within them after I cross over. Nothing else would matter any more.

My Liebster Nominations 

Rhiti Bose’s blog: http://rhitibose.wordpress.com/ 

Rudrodip Majumdar’s blog: http://sehgalsahabunplugged.wordpress.com/ 

Rama Sonti’s blog: http://ramaadilse.blogspot.in/ 

Joyce Yarrow’s blog: http://joyceyarrow.blogspot.com/ 

Nalini Priyadarshini’s blog: http://www.twilightmusing.blogspot.in/ 

Reena Prasad’s blog: http://harivarasanam.wordpress.com/ 

Damyanti’s blog: http://damyantiwrites.wordpress.com/