Bookaholicanonymous is happy to bring to you this exclusive interview with Anita Krishan. She has written an autobiographical account of her pet Fluffy and has written serious fiction on Kashmir, but what caught our eye was when she changed track and wrote ghost stories titled Ghosts of the Silent Hills. So, all you lovers of the paranormal do check out the book. For now get to know the author.
About Anita Krishan: Born in Shimla in 1955, she spent the initial twenty-two years of her life in this pristine Himalayan town, earning her master’s degree in English literature from Himachal University, and moving on to a career of introducing delights of the language to her young learners. In her long tenure as an educator, she has enriched the lives of countless students with the mystery of the narrative. A versatile writer, each of her literary works appertains to a different genre... from the joys and travails of life, to terrorism that has brought the world to its tenterhooks, to now the paranormal. She has travelled extensively around the globe absorbing the diverse human ethos and cultures—the delectable food for her thoughts. Presently, she lives in Gurgaon with her family.
Tell us about Fluffy and Me it’s your first book right? Also it’s said that it is autobiographical? Is it true?
That’s absolutely true! My writing career initiated from my nostalgia for the life I once had, the life that I left behind after I had got married. I was born and brought up in Shimla. Life on the mountains was infused with beauty and simplicity. Fluffy and Me is a storehouse of the memories of an era that vanished like thin mist into the wheels of time.
This book makes one fall in love with the idea of having a pet. Do you believe pets bring another dimension to childhood/life?
I absolutely believe that having a pet, especially during the growing up period of life, makes a world of difference. These words from my book ring so true even today, when years have gone by since I lost Fluffy –– “Because of him, life became a beautiful story.”
It is a scientifically proven fact that pets, especially dogs, bring much love and happiness in life. They are the best companions –– loving and trustworthy, who wouldn’t have second thought of putting themselves in danger to save their family members.
Tears of Jhelum came out in 2014, and was well received. What made you write this story on Kashmir?
My family roots can be traced back by 200 years to Kashmir, when my ancestors fled to escape the atrocities committeed by the Afghan rulers. These were the stories I had heard. But from 1980s onwards, I watched the world being torn by terrorism and conflicts –– the cobra-head of terrorism spreading its fangs in Punjab and Kashmir, and slowly expanding its hood to annihilate the world. The wars in Congo, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Kargil … the horrendous exodus of Kashmiri Pandits –– the common man of the world was slowly getting engulfed by unjustified mayhem. People were being massacred, rendered homeless, and were desperately seeking shelter in regions totally alien to them. Many refugee camps for the displaced Kashmiris had come up in Delhi. My helpless silence culminated on October 29, 2005, just two days before the festivals if Diwali and Eid, in my narrow escape in Sarojini Nagar bomb blast. I was only ten metres away from the site where forty men, women, children had died in split of a second. Those innocents, who had come out for festival shopping like me, were sacrificed in the mindless violence. I had to do something before the perpetrators were successful in their designs, of ripping apart the fabric of amity of our society. The only weapon I had was my pen.
Do you think who are neutral in terrorism or any other manmade crises suffer the most? They bear the brunt of the situation.
The common man, with no political designs, living a simple life, at times from hand to mouth, is the worst sufferer of the political conflits. That was the reason I decided to pen down a saga of a common man suffering in this trife torn world.
Despite Stolen Dreams is yet another story based on Kashmir. What did you want to highlight in this book.
Despite Stolen Dreams is the sequel to Tears of Jhelum. This novel highlights the plight of the people rendered homeless overnight, people trying to survive the life of expatriates that holds no future for them. In fact, I created the character of Kashmira Singh to highlight how common helpless man perseveres, suppresses the pain, and moves on with life in whatever circumstances available.
Do you think people have a choice not to side with terrorism in the backdrop of this story?
Absolutely! My protagonist, Wali, of Tears of Jhelum and Despite Stolen Dreams is a moderate Kashmiri Muslim, who is catagorically against violence and terrorism. As a result, he becomes terrorists’ target and has to abandon his home of lifetime to save his family and himself.
Then you changed your genre and wrote Ghosts of the Silent Hills. What made you do this?
Having been born and brought up on the mountains, the seemingly mysterious hills and arcane valleys that can set anyone’s imagination running wild, it had its impact on me too. I lived with my family in the suburbs of Shimla, in a lonely cottage surrounded by a dense forest of pine and oak. With the onset of the evening, an intense hush would encase the landscape around our house, and then even the rustling leaves or shifting branches would send the heart racing. The fear for the unknown was justified as the town had an ample store of supernatural tales … of famous haunted houses and tunnels (tunnels number 33 & 103 on Shimla Kalka rail-track), a headless British lady spotted on a particular deserted road, or a gentleman in top hat and tailcoat asking for a cigarette light and then disappearing even before one could blink eyes. I also grew up listening to many spooky incidents that had transpired with people –– with friends and relatives. I felt I just couldn’t let these manifestations slip into oblivion. So, I explored this total different genre for those who love mystery.
Do you really think ghosts exist? Did you encounter anything paranormal till date?
I have never had any personal encounter with the paranormal, but know of people who have undergone strange unexplained experiences. In 2002, my two nieces had frightening experiences in the house they had recently shifted to. Their story is included in the book.
Are the stories real?
All the stories are based on real life experiences. Of course, there are add ons for the right impact.
Which story on the collection terrified you the most, why?
I don’t easily get terrified by the spooky tales anymore. If I did, how could I write them, trying to make them more eerie by running my imagining wild, and donning the shoes of the person who underwent the harrowing experiences? But, these stories, specially in Part 1 of the book did terrify me when I heard them first, long long ago. I used to have sleepless nights after listening to spooky tales. Most of those are family tales, about people close and known, who did undergo something extremely disturbing.
We thank you Anita Krishan for taking out time for us!
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