Shades of Love. A wonderful session at Litomania 2014.

One doesn't  stay in a long term relationship because of lack  of choice. One stays because there is a commitment made. Because you value that person. Because you commit and you honour your  word. This is what I emphasised  in the panel discussion  yesterday at Litomania in my session with Ravinder Singh (author of ' I too had a love story', 'Can love happen twice' and a few more)  and Madhuri Banerjee (author of' Losing my Virginity and other dumb ideas', 'Scandalous housewives' and a few more).

Picture by Divya Nambiar

Ravinder said that 'When there is doordarshan you only watch that. There is no choice.' And that in today's times there are huge distractions like Facebook, where as they did not exist 19 years back. (As I have been married for 19 years to the same guy, I have to add :) )  I couldn't disagree more and Ravinder must have seen the horrified expression on my face and so he quickly clarified that he was only joking.

The fact is you are only as distracted as you want to be. Facebook 'likes' do not make a relationship work! Nor does declaration of love with the accompaniment of 'happy couple pictures' declaring how lucky one is to have the other. The real test of a relationship is time.

Every relationship changes, especially after you get married, and  once children enter the picture. The relationship then gets tested, tried, tugged in ways you never imagined before. We grow as individuals. There are many other stresses that a relationship undergoes---work pressure, meeting other people, familiarity, boredom, individual growth, unforeseen changes. It is a lot of hard work.
Some survive, some break up.

There was a question put to me by a member of the audience who asked me about one of my characters in the book The Secret Wishlist who decides to walk out of a marriage, despite having a child. She felt that it was wrong on Diksha's part to have done that and one had to stay in the marriage for the sake of the child.

What I told her was that if there is no love in a relationship, then the biggest disservice you can do to a child is to raise her/him in a atmosphere of hate. Madhuri said that she was a single mother and it great friends with her ex-husband, and her child is in a happy place now. That it took her a while to come to this decision, but she was glad that she made that choice. She got a thunderous applause for this declaration.

Another audience member asked about stalking when it came to love. All three of us---Ravinder, Madhuri and I empahsised that the character in the movie Ranjhana who cuts his hand to prove his love for the girl and stalks her day in and day out hoping she would fall for it,  was definitely sexual harassment.

There was another point that Ravinder made, which I totally agreed with. He talked about a reader who told him, that he used his book for 'Ladki -fasana'. (Apologies to my non-Hindi speaking readers. It is basically a very coarse Hindi term which can be roughly translated as 'trapping a girl ') . He said that the same sentiment could have been expressed differently---that the reader had used the book to tell a girl that he really admired her and wanted her to read the book, in the hope that theirs would be a true love, like in the book.

I agreed vociferously with Ravinder when he stressed the importance of space in relationships and having 'me-time'. It is so important to have time for oneself. He talked about sharing passwords which he was against and I so agree, as he was voicing exactly my take on those issues, about whioch I have blogged earlier.

All three of us also agreed that Indian romance writers, especially popular ones had a responsibility when it came to shaping young impressionable minds, in terms of how the concept of 'love' is perceived.We all agreed that terms like 'deti kya' (again with apologies to my non Hindi speaking friends) were not only disrespectful to women and misogynist, but also reduced women to sex-symbols, negating what she is capable of. In a country like India, it is indeed a need of the hour to change the male mindset and I do concur with Madhuri and Ravinder, that popular writers (currently all male--the only female in the top ten Nielsen list is  yours truly-- See this tweet from landmark store) play a role in this.

Ravinder emphasized that the men in his book wouldn't speak that way to women and if the  protagonist did make an error in judgement, he would later be corrected by another character and would  realize that he was wrong and would be man enough to admit it. He also said that when it came to a relationship, why should it be that it is always a guy who chases. I agreed with him. It is a level playing field! In fact in one of my books (The One You Cannot Have) it is Anjali who chases Aman.  I asserted that the women in my books were strong independent characters who led their lives.

The audience had a lot more questions as the session (moderated  superbly by Madhuri) was a lot of fun, interactive and bubbling with wit, humour and love.
But both Ravinder and I had a flight to catch, and hence after posing for a few pictures with readers and signing books, we rushed back to the airport.
One of the readers made a lovely card for me. Another reader said that she had just discovered my books in June and never thought she would meet me so fast. She also said that she, her mom and her mother-in-law are all huge fans of my writing--and she had come to the venue with her mother. and another said that he had been waiting for 5 years to meet me. Yet another said that his wife is a huge fan and now after he heard me, he became a fan too. I was overwhelmed by all the love and warmth.

In the car and at the airport, while waiting for our respective flights, we talked about a lot of things---related to being a popular author. Ravinder is humble, grounded, sweet, nice  and truly one of the most genuine people I have met. He gave me some good tips and good ideas. Of course, he earned an invitation to my home :)

All in all, I had an awesome time. A big thank you to Litomania ( Sangram Surve, the director of the festival, Shalini who was warm and welcoming and the rest of the team)  for organising this so well and conducting it beautifully. May Litomania grow in the coming years!

Ravinder, Madhuri and me, just before our session, in the author's lounge.

If you have never attended a lit-fest before, do catch the next one in your city.
And choose the sessions that discuss a topic you like. (if you choose a wrong session which doesn't deal with a subject you like,  you will probably be bored to death!)

Litfests are a great way to interact with your favourite writers, meet other like-minded people and have fun discussing things, gaining new perspectives, and discovering new books!

ps: A new book by me will be out this December. Will unveil the title today on my FB page!
Buy my last book


  1. Anonymous4:00 AM

    Loove you sharing the interactions. It's true when there is no love, pointless to be in a relationship..we cannot live a life of lies. Space matters a lot in a relationship and yeah, we need a change in mindset. It's the need of the hour:)

  2. I follow you very closely and knew about this Litomania discussion. I am glad that you thought to share the nits and grits of the discussion. Thanks for involving us in your world and letting us know. And anyday, you rock! Waitg for your next book...

  3. Thank you Bharathi for being a part of my world and for the kind words! And for taking the time to let me know. Much appreciated :)

  4. OOoooooooooooooh--Waiting for the title :)

  5. It has already been revealed. #ithappensforareason ! :)


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