Friday, December 26, 2014

Talk with Dr. Ravi Dhar on his novel 'Orphans of the Storms'

Dr. Ravi Dhar is Professor & Director at JIMS (Jagnanth International Management School), New Delhi. After spending many years teaching and educating children, Dr. Dhar dedicated his time to literature, a thing he loves. His debut novel, ‘Orphans of the Storm’ is story of Kashmiri Pundits, which has been described beautifully by him. In an exclusive interview with Strokes of Pen, he shares some memories behind the novel.
Dr. Ravi Dhar

Q1. Normally, first-time authors choose an easy plot to go with. Is there any specific reason you chose to go with plight of Kashmiri Pundits in your very first attempt as an author?

Dr. Dhar: Yes, there is. I am a Kashmiri Pundit and have been associated in various capacities with the cause of my community. I used to bring out a newsmagazine for Kashmiri Pundit community of Ludhiana city, when I worked there.

Q2. You are a Doctorate and a Professor now turned into an author. The shift between both designations is immense. How did you manage to walk the shift without hampering quality or style of these different professions?

Dr. Dhar: Though I have been a teacher for the most part of my life, but I never gave up my aesthetic pursuits. I have written poems, which have been published in poetry and literary journals in India and abroad. 

Q3. It is generally said that some truth is often intertwined when writing novel. Is ‘Orphans of the Storms’ inspired from your life experiences?

Dr Dhar: D. H. Lawrence once said, ‘The novelist is a liar, but the novel is the Book of Life.’ At another place, he said, “Trust the tale, but not the teller”. The novel has always been a representation of life, though an imaginative one. So, it is but natural for a novelist to borrow from the world of his experiences and then weld it into a new whole.

Q4. Who or What motivated you to write the novel?

Dr. Dhar: As I said, the creative urge within me remained pent up for long due to circumstances which did not permit me to attempt a canvas as large as that of a novel. But, the immediate motivation lies in my spiritual moorings and quest. India has always upheld the seer-poet tradition, even as late as the 20th century, when Sri Aurobido, my Guru, wrote Savitri. The mystic in me sought expression, however, in prose.

Q5. As spectators, we have heard various things about migration of Kashmiri Pundits. The book goes a level deep. Did you wrote the book as an attempt to bring the reality forth to audience?

Dr. Dhar: The Kashmiri Pundits are a miniscule minority much like the Jews. Being few in number, they have been systematically marginalized from the cultural ethos of their state of origin and neglected by the mainstream political opinion/parties in India. I wanted to bring forth their predicament and pain before the wide world. Being Hindus, they are part of the Hindu majority in India, but being Kashmiri Hindus, they are a minority in Jammu and Kashmir. As the symbol of Hindu culture in Kashmir, they have been first and foremost in the line of attack by the Islamist terrorists in the valley. And yet, the ‘secular’ Indian sleeps over their plight.  

Q6. Siddhartha character comes out as that of strong individual. Have you sketched his character based on a real person or it is an entire fictional character?

Dr Dhar: Siddhartha is the Eastern alter-ego of Odysseus/Ulysses in the West. He is the symbol of the eternal human quest for Truth. The character has evolved as the story progressed, though there are traces in him of my personal quest for Truth too.

Q7. Being a Kashmiri yourself, what is your take on the recent happening in Kashmir and their status?

Dr. Dhar: Kashmir is the land of the Rishis a fact acknowledged by its Muslim population too who speak of it as the Rishi-Peer tradition. The present conflict in Kashmir and the exodus of Kashmiri Pundits from Kashmir is a severe blow to this tradition. Any solution of Kashmir without the permanent resettlement of Kashmiri Pundits with dignity will be a betrayal of the innumerable sacrifices made by them for the country.

Q8. What do you want your readers to know before and/or after reading this novel?

Dr. Dhar: I would like the reader to know that life has no full stop. Howsoever terrible the calamity that may befall a person, (s)he must not lose courage. As one poet says, ‘If winter comes, can spring be far behind?’


anusia said...

Very inspiring. Nice post.

Rajeev Pundir said...

Wish you all the best Dr. Dhar.

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