You educate a man; you educate a man. You educate a woman; you educate a generation.
Brigham Young describes the subject of our story perfectly. Kusum Choppra is one of the leading feminist authors in India, with novels like ‘Beyond Diamond Rings’, ‘Mastani’ and ‘Nirbhaya & others who dared’, already in her kitty and has miles to go.
Every author has stories to tell, especially when you have been a journalist for 25 years. She shares her story with Saloni Gandhi & Karan Bhatt.
“I started writing when I was in school. Topping in essay competitions got me great support from my teachers. As soon as I finished schooling I started writing for a magazine called ‘Sunshine”’. Eventually after I got married and had kids. Later stop I became a journalist.” says Kusum Choppra, who has spent 25 years in the field of journalism. “When you become a mother you cannot stop being a mother. So I left journalism but couldn’t stop the creative juices and that’s how my books came about.” she adds.
In a writer’s life there always comes a phase which inspires you to go as far as you can without looking back. “I belong to the Sindhi community who have always been tradesmen. We were always into business and I grew up in that atmosphere. We were 5 daughters and I grew up listening things like ‘beta hota toh’”. Hence, feminism.
Every writer is an avid reader and that is exactly the case with Mrs. Choppra. “The subjects I read in college were Economics with Politics and History. My second novel, ‘Mastani’ was a history novel and it involved research of 25 years. In all of my stories, the character of female protagonist is free-willed and someone who thinks beyond any boundaries. The same was with ‘Mastani’.”
Talking of her most acclaimed novels,‘Nirbhaya & others who dared’, Mrs.Choppra says, “Most of the stories included in the book are those which I have heard. I had a long innings as a journalist and so I had a lot of stories to share.”
25 years of career as a journalist has given Kusum interesting stories to share.
“It was 1984 when anti-reservation riots had turned communal in Ahmedabad. Our office was in Khanpur and we lived quite far away with our children. The school were shut, so we had to leave them home and go for our work. We had trained them to look after each other. Once when we returned, children excitedly said, ‘Mummy aaj pathhar gire’. Later, we also found out how our neighbors were teaching how to make petrol bombs to all the kids of the building”, she says. Communal discussions, let alone violence, have the potential to influence young minds. “One night we came back home and our kids asked me, ‘Mummy, why are SC (schedule caste) people bad?’ I asked them who taught this to them and they told us how someone told them that they are bad people”, she recalls.
The couple, with much thought, shifted kids at their maternal grandparent’s home.
Mrs. Choppra is working on her next novel, a love story of an elderly couple.
“It is a love story which senior citizens would love to read. The male & female protagonist of the story are 70 and 60 year old, respectively, who meet each other after retiring. The book is in process of editing and hopefully should be released next year. This will be my first trilogy.”
Mrs. Choppra also hosts a small platform for women, which facilitates them to write their own story. “I wrote the first chapter of a short story and read it to them. The next we met, they had their own idea of the story and how it could be taken forward. So, I gave a story to each one of them a chance to write a chapter to take it forward. This is a sort of ‘collaborative fiction’”, says Kusum Chopra who believes women should be given more space to voice out their innermost sentiments.