Becoming Assiya by Simrann Keshwanii

Simrann Keshwanii, a 20 year old Lady Shri Ram College student, is the founder of the startup Born of A Million Thoughts.

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ABOUT THE BOOK

Becoming Assiya is a story of a misplaced Syrian refugee and her trial with a past of blood,wounds,war, doubt and hatred and the troublesome hope of a better tomorrow.

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1. What inspired you to write Becoming Assiya? Tell us something about he book.

Becoming Assiya is my homage to a land that breathes it’s last, as we speak. The largest burial ground on the torn breast of the World, and the collective tragedy we intrepid netizens scrolled over. I chose Syria as the setting because it put me so close to reality. That’s the thing with fiction – you find more horrific plots in reality than you could ever tread far on in your imagination. I just explored and documented real life stories, and the pain was far too great for Words. I can not claim, for any such claim would be a flat lie, to have captured Syria’s moment of blood and War, because the two go beyond statistics and images on the internet – they’re real and unless you’ve been taken at face value by the Human Messengers
Of Death, you can not capture the Horror. I have merely tried to give a glimpse of what millions of refugees go through, and how it sticks to them, even after they’ve been “liberated”.

2. Do you relate to any of the characters in your book?

Every time I’ve been asked this question, I’ve had a different answer to give. Interestingly, each time I find a familiar longing to embody another character from the book. This time I choose Youssef. The man who was too righteous and blinded to save his own life. Whether or not that’s a fault – simple stupidity or love for country – I leave to the reader to decide. I would be Youssef because most often, I try making choices between extreme options and am caught in the middle. Some of us stay there, and die there. The middle isn’t the perfect place to be at – but like Youssef, you can find your songs and pigeons even in the Middle of Heaven & Hell. That’s what all human life is about.
3. How do you think this book will affect the thinking of the people?

Becoming Assiya is not an easy read. A lot of people will disagree and dissect my viewpoint. That’s precisely when I know I’ve done my job well. When you’re able to push people to think harder and contradict, you win.

4. What were your thoughts while you were writing the book?

I had a flurry of thoughts while writing the book. To be honest, I used to go through phases of mania, depression, melancholy and dangerous happiness and everything in between. I had a habit of documenting what I felt. Carving a story around what I felt everyday, and giving it a structure was not something I expected or planned. It just happened. Like I say in the book, you can stop humans. You can kill them. But, you can’t kill the Word, for Words fly.
5. Has writing this book changed you in any way?

In unfathomable ways. I think it has been the catalyst for a lot of things. I have always been a reserved, ambivalent person, but this book taught me that change only comes with conscious acts, and not abnegation. I think I began engaging a lot more with issues that affect us as one human race, not just at the grassroots, but even in my everyday life. A simple routine job like getting up and making food wasn’t a silent act of withdrawal anymore. It was my rebellion, it was me reclaiming the work-life balance. What was everyday life became an intensely complex political statement for me, after the last word of Becoming Assiya was written down. Perhaps, it is this realisation that we need early in life – nothing we do or say is impermeable to our social and political milieu and sometimes, just to exist, is a rebellious task in itself.

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