Posted by Literary Titan
Dangling Gandhi is a collection of inspirational and informative short stories about the lives of people in Asia. What served as your inspiration while writing these stories?
We continue to learn in this vast school of life, don’t we? And the unpredictability of life and the uncertainties themselves make the core of our lives, interestingly. Therefore, inspirations are everywhere for any writer, not only for me. The themes and knots are never exhaustive, as most of the writers would agree with me.
Now that I’m better exposed and experienced in forms and techniques of crafting, I think the stories of the traditionally published Dangling Gandhi born at the right time out of the themes that stayed with me for long.
Although my writing journey began only in my twenties, creativity has always been happening within me as is the case in most of the writers.
By writing, I only try to interact with others, spreading across to the world my understanding of life. While doing that, I invite those who are willing to enter my created world, which would give them a whole new experience. Some can’t enter only because of the inherent inhibitions in their mind or because they are otherwise prejudiced more against the world, easier in their comfort zone but that never matters because the created worlds are ready for those who want new experiences.
Normally, I play with my theme and characters in my mind before I start crafting, letting them choose their forms and that’s why different readers read these stories in different depths. Although they are simple in language, they hold in the layers and require some effort to appreciate and understand them better. And that effort would give them the new experience.
Did you write these stories specifically for this collection or overtime?
There was no idea of a book in the first place. I created and crafted for the pleasure I derive similar to how I read for the pleasure of reading.
Except ‘Read Singapore’, the stories were written between 2014 and 2017. They were sequenced to alternate the past and the present, primarily to bring a better vibrant reading experience and also to give the young readers a wholesome feel of reading.
Only while compiling, I ensured that there was a sequence to show history-based alternating with the contemporary ones. So, when it is read as a collection, naturally it brings in the reader such thought.
Those enjoy literary fiction, Literary critics, Academics, and the serious readers of the western world who are eager to know more about literature, culture, lands, and people of the east will enjoy these varied, layered, nonlinear narrations, and assimilate.
As a simple metaphor and the title of one of the short stories, Dangling Gandhi suits well also as the title of the collection. I decided on the title as it suits all kinds of uncertainties and doubts of our times, the world over, on Gandhism as well as the nonviolence he upheld, becoming more and more debatable in this modern world. However, interestingly, the story hardly touches on these. Regardless of the politics behind MKGandhi, an international icon, we all know that his ideology of non-violence in all senses will always remain applicable, globally.
My favorite story from the collection is ‘Did Churchill Know’. Do you have a favorite story from the book?
‘Did Churchill know?’ was written long before the recent devastating floods of Kerala. When I witnessed the images of the recent floods, I was intrigued, especially because I had lived through a similar one in my fiction during its creation. This story carries two tiny canvases of the older man and Jack with a very vast and the broader canvas of the tea estates that began during the colonial periods and how the devastating floods destroyed the hilly region.
I’d been to Munnar a few years back for four days on holiday with friends. The hill station with the surrounding ranges of hills captivated me just as the Winston Churchill bridge/arch did. I felt the arch stood there heavily carrying the remnants of the past. Ironically, Churchill detested India and Indians, and that makes us, the people of the later generations raise several questions. The story comes under parallel storytelling. It wasn’t planned that way. I discovered that the story fell into that category, only upon reflecting later on.
‘Punkah Wallah’ is my favorite. Mani the protagonist formed from what I’d heard during my mid-teens while we were in Shillong. My dad used to have a friend who used to share things about his ancestors, childhood, partition and about his relatives in the then British Indian army and those who worked for them. He said that one such lad was taken to far away Malaya. The memories of those interactions surfaced in me to craft that short story. I’m not exaggerating when I say the character stayed in me for about forty years and I didn’t even know it until I wrote that story.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
Unfolded with an unexpected post-modernistic tone and flavor, easily fitting into both Literary fiction as well as Historical fiction, the first draft of my novel is ready. I am currently rewriting and polishing chapters before it can go for publication, which I don’t know when. Dangling Gandhi has become the creative personal record that I’d hope to break. And that generates in me so much of motivation and drive, although I have to accept that there are times when the other end is also felt. And these swings by themselves are so lovely to experience.
Posted by Literary Titan
Dangling Gandhi is a series of 12 short stories written by Jayanthi Sankar about people living in Singapore, India, and Asia. Each character has a different goal or belief. Many of these stories take place during colonial times. Struggling for independence during a time where not many women had a voice. Told from several different points of view, Dangling Gandhi gives readers a look at how different people live their unique lives. The title story has the metaphor both in the title and the story.
Each of the stories has a different tone and theme. This book of short stories is an inspiring read that, although some stories are more engaging than others, they all taught me more about how people live their lives in countries in Asian, such as India and Singapore.
I like the way in which Jayanthi writes passages with deep prolific language that immediately hooks readers into the story. One of the themes that were prominent was perseverance. My advice to readers while reading Dangling Gandhi is to read it slowly and with an open mind. The story left a deep impression on me most especially the chapter ‘Did Churchill Know?’ How we react in tough situations says a lot about who we are. I have not stopped to think about my own reactions in situations for a while now and this section opened up my mind.
The title immediately attracted my attention before I started reading. The whole message behind the title of the book is that life won’t always go the way that you expected it to. You have to look at life upside down which is what happens most of the time.
I would recommend this story to those who have started studying culture in school. Dangling Gandhi by Jayanthi Sanker is a stirring read that will educate and inspire you.
Pages: 317 | ISBN: 9388860039