Christina: Before I begin let me congratulate you for having published your first poetry collection, “The crescent smile”. How do you feel upon having accomplished this dream?
Aiswarya: Thank you. It was indeed one of the happiest moments when I got to publish my book, that too, the first one. I’d been dreaming of the book since I was seven, but I only got to realize it seven years later. And to get the book published by a great personality like Mr. K. Jayakumar is a rare privilege. It has certainly encouraged me to write more than ever, and that is what every person who likes to write would want too, I think.
Christina: You have mentioned in other interviews that it is your picturesque hometown that inspires you to write. Would you elaborate on that please?
Aiswarya: I can proudly say that it is my hometown that has inspired me to write. Mangalam is a beautiful fishing village in Alappuzha. A lake on one side, the sea on the other, you can practically call it an island. It’s very green, calm, simple and not very populated, so everybody knows everyone and we have our shares of joys and sorrows. The temple bells, the old schools and mosques, the tradition that is ours to keep, I think anybody will be moved by it. When you live in the lap of nature, you cannot help but be inspired. And for me, it doesn’t just inspire, it is what makes me write. I love my hometown.
Christina: You have achieved an unthinkable miracle at such a young age. How do your friends and family acknowledge this? I’m sure they must be pretty proud.
Aiswarya: I’d never have been anywhere if it were not for them. Every moment, there was someone to help, guide, and support me. My mom is my first reader and critic, who still save every paper I scribble on. She collected things I wrote when I was a kid, which others saw as childish nonsense. All along, she encourages me to write and I never feel satisfied about a work unless my mom smiles and shows me a hi-five. And my dad’s always there to do anything that I need and he is such a perfectionist I cannot but be surprised at the way in which he do stuff. And of course, my teachers are the best! They never grow weary of encouragement, and are always there to help me any way they can. And there is nothing if there are no friends. They’re the best sort of people you can
The work that they’ve done is much more important, for, without them, my wish would have remained a wish. Without a support, a vine would remain on the ground, unseen.
Christina: What are your views about the deteriorating reading habits and indifferent attitudes of our generation towards poetry and other genres of literature?
Aiswarya: Reading habits did see a fall for some time, but I think it is improving now. The tastes have changed; the reader’s demand is different from that of a few years ago. There are lots of poets among us, who write and enjoy poetry. If a good book comes our way, I think anybody would want to read it. But poetry has fewer readers than any other form of literature. Our generation, I think, is not very good at time management and we say that we have less time for entertainment and reading. We have just switched over to newer ways, but the time our ancestors had and the time we have is the same, we use it differently. With the advent of electronic gadgets, we have become more used to direct entertainment rather than the comparatively slow process of reading and then visualizing.
Christina: What is the feeling you get when you see yourself among people twice your age receiving awards from dignitaries?
Aiswarya: I used to feel awkward and scared at first, and I’ve asked myself a hundred times ‘Why am I here?’ when I’m placed in such situations. But what I found out every time is that everyone is very welcoming and treats me as one among them. They give me guidance and advice and now I feel so fortunate to be with such experienced and skilled people that it gives me an idea of what I would like to be as I grow older.
Christina: Who is your favorite author/poet and work? Can you tell us why you consider it so?
Aiswarya: I love classics, and the work of Thomas Hardy, Charlotte Bronte and Charles Dickens. They have beautiful imagery and they feel so real. Looking at modern writing and the old ones, we can learn a lot. But one of the works I loved most is A Town like Alice by Nevil Shute. His skill at narration was excellent, and it makes you go on reading it. I love Wordsworth’s poems and I admire the way he writes about nature. And of course, I like Chetan Bhagat’s books, for their simplicity of language and humor. Every book has its own unique style and sets it apart from others. Every work is the result of unmatchable hard work and dedication, so I believe I should appreciate all the works I read.
Christina: Events that move you inspire you to write. But what kind of emotion is prominent in your works? Is it sorrow, indignation or joy?
Aiswarya: I’ve always felt that I am controlled by an invisible force when I write. Writing can express any feeling, we all believe. But I think one of the most difficult one to describe is the urge to write. Your mind becomes a bucket which is about to overflow, the pen’s the sieve and the paper a more reliable container to catch it as it flows over. It all a flurry of feelings- some of them snippets of different emotions- you just have to write it down. I usually write poetry when before an exam or when I’m sad, upset and even when I’m completely indifferent to things. You become the slave as something takes over and makes you write. I have not been able to find out what that something is, and I think some things are better left unknown.
Christina: You mention that you wish to join IIT. Is that because you believe the notion that a person in India needs to be an engineer or a doctor to gain a particular status and survive?
Aiswarya: No, the era of the rush to become an engineer or doctor is seeing signs of decline with more and more students coming forward to try out different areas of studies. But for me, science has always been a passion, like poetry. It is as intriguing as the world of imagination and deeply connected too. The way in which science can be churned out of literature and literature out of science makes it all the more appealing. Our choice of studies should not be based on the ideals of status but on how much we enjoy doing it. Every area of study has to exist to sustain the others. All of them are equally important. But the question of survival remains, but if the arts have to survive, then there should be takers for it. Thinking nobody reads poetry, so I should not read it either is killing its chances of survival. I think it applies for everything too.
Christina: If you were given a chance to be born again into this world, would you like to be a poet again or choose a different kind of life?
Aiswarya: I would want to be born as a human, and I would certainly love to grow up like I do now. Being human gives you lots of possibilities and opportunities and it includes the one to carve our destiny. To find more about the world, to write about it, feel it, to think about it, what more can anybody ask for?
Christina: Would you like to pass on a message to our readers? And a fewfinal words about you as well.
Aiswarya: I would like to thank all the readers, because without the reader, a poet cannot remain a poet, for it is they who give the poet the name of a poet. Otherwise, I would remain ‘the girl who writes poetry’. I greatly value my readers’ response because it helps me improve and remove the faults that I have. It is undoubtedly the reader who keeps the poet alive.