Abha Dawesar » I have always admired women capacities and resilience « !
Sensorium the last novel of indian novelist Abha Dawesar, published in french by Eho éditions ( september 2012) , is a beautiful inner journe, a « dialogue between doubt and certainty » as the author explained.
Sensorium is a pure joy and a medley of metaphysical thoughts with hindu mythology. If we were to summarize this last and very exquisite novel of Abha Dawesar: we would say that It is a constant back and forth balley, between metaphysics and mythology. « We grow up as a child with these myths that comes from a culture, it is so large in your brain when you are a child » confesses Abha; and once adult, we then realise it is just another story, although confusion remains, cause at the end of the day, it is deepled rooted in us.
UFFP meets novelist Abha Dawesar :
What does Abha stand for in India ?it means glow. There is a little story about that in my native land, everybody is given a name in a ceremony when then are born. You have also an official religious name as well according to the syllabel wich your name should start. And your family can also give you other names. My father chose Abha for me.
Are you spiritual, do you have a confession? My parents are both Hindu, but am really in perpetual doubt. I believe in a constant search, because I don’t really know what spirituality means.
Searching eternally the truth is int restless ? I think it is a little like Plato’s Cave, you know there is something out there, you see it sometimes but you cannot materially see it.
Sensorium is your inner journey ? Yes it is a quest to see and understand and try to figure out the slippery slow between who we are and who we think we are and where we want to be. It »s a dialogue because there is a reality in flesh and blood that has to do with your past and your identity. All of the things that made you who you are. And then ,there is another reality which is inside you. There is also another reality,outside of your body as well. And the two parts are often in conflict, they don’t necessary correspond with each other all the time. So it is also a dialogue between doubt and certainty.
The confrontation between East and West, in a sense? Yes exactly as I am part of both. The book grew out of a desire to separate myself from the situation I was writing in. But this is something like a step further away from me. Separating myself from myself to really understand what is really essentially me. Sensorium is the search to find out if there is an answer to find for to these questionnings.
A philosophical search as well? Yes indeed, there are two narratives in the book because it was the only way to understand. One part of the book is the story of the Character as she goes through her life and the things happening to her. The other part, comes in the opposite pages, with little bits of informations based on scientific studies. Other things the character finds out also. Events, that can eventually help her cast the light on what is going on on the other side.
Sensorium is the information in latin ?It’s one of the themes of the book, the paradox in the end is that all our senses in the end reside in the brain, and one the one hand,you think of your senses like if they are being immediate, telling you a certain truth emotionnally, on the other hand, they kind of interchange places at times.
Babijy is a novel you wrote a couple of years ago and we really loved it, speaking of sexuality in India is very courageous! ? the book was first published in India it is very interesting actually, because the book appealled to the younger generation. Because it is extremely difficult in indian society not to be hypocritical because of the extreme level of tabous around certain topics. The young are quite fed up of it, because they have grown up in a culture where they have access to the same thoughts then the rest of the world.
Virginity a tabou ? I think what’s interesting in India at the moment is that 50% of the population is under 25 years of age, and youth can be full hearty and courageous. A lot of them want a life of freedom without hipocrisy. They want to be open, they wanna have a boyfriend or a girlfriend. I don’t think that we can talk of sexuality openly, but at least we can see that there is a lot more freedom now in big cities.
The story is about a female character trying to understand her roots? The roots for her goes beyond about what it is being human. At the very abstract level, she tries to understand where she is co ming from, and h er immediate place where she is coming from is her mother. There is no escaping that. But she also has to confront a world of superstition.Coming from a culture where people are willing to believe this, she is left in a situation where she does not believe it and at the same time, she can’t shake it away.
What are the sources of influence ? I have been more and more interested in modern science and i have been more curious about neuroscience. We know more about the brain and about how we think then we knew twenty years ago. I have been reading a lot about it, and I wanted to investigate more. This is why Sensorium came up, you think your brain functions a certain way and I incorporated some of that in the n ovel.
Your heroins are mainly women ? I have actually one book where the hero is a man and that was the easiest to write. I admire women and I have always looked up to women.
I think they are capable in doing so many things at the same time. I’m always amazed of these women having a carreer, being able to work and have a family. I find that great, women capacity and resilience.
Womanity is the futur? Absolutely, they are intelligent and they are not restricted by it because they are able to have empathy and compassion for the others. In a very large sense of the word, of course am not saying that men have no compassion. I think often women are more in totality in what they are bringing to the world.
Autobiography one day? may be when am very old, but in one sense, Sensorium is a sort of autobiography of ideas. Its not much in the character but the book is a book of ideas, it corresponds to some of the ideas that i have been trying to understand.
Tempted by a socioanthropoligical approach one day? I think it would be possible one day.
Indian women today ? they are in the cities by large extremely powerful in their lives and carreers, most of them work, and almost all of them count. But I think what i really see changing in indian women now is that, they finally are saying « yes we can tolerate this but we want to have some more equality »
They are demanding more from men, and a lot of men are giving it. It’s not a war between the genders. A lot of the younger women are insisting on having a far more equal footing with their husbands.
India is getting less patriarcal? Yes especially because the level of the populare government, in the local village elections, women are now represented. The law is here now to defend them and that can considerably change the mentalities. Women are definitely changing the world.
Do you believe in women empowerment? Well yeah, I think that women are already in power ! its a question about not stopping them from being able to express their part. In a statistical sense, the majority of women in power, might work well, but it is a complicated issue, power is extremely corrupting equally for men and women. And in India, I unfortunately realised that some women in very high places are as corrupt as men, and am not talking about women fighting for gender equality. At the end of the day, having a women in a powerful position is a positive thing, they are role models.Women are more into negociations and prevent risks.
From East to West, women are victims of political economical and religious turmoils, what is view for instance of what is happening in the arabic world after the arab awakening ? Growing up in an indian culture, my vision of time became circular, so the good thing about that, is that i remain an optimist. I say whenever anything is wrong it will pass, because things have a way of turning around and coming back. I’m sad though, it is something that happened a long time ago in Afghanistan in the late seventies. People are instrumentalised of course, but we need a political process to come out of it. Or economic, we must take into account people s needs. In any society, women and children are always the victims. We must acquire stability, democracy is not only for the western world . I don’t want to loose hope. I don’t know what vehicle of hope it can be but i think in front of any form of oppression we must acquire sustainable development, it is already a step.
Sustainable development for women how so? They have to have some sort of economic independence. To be able to break the barrier, women have to support their children. I believe also that education has a key role for that. In India a lot of poor women don’t have accesso to schools.
Civil society is more and more involved, are they the solution? Its true the message are widespread thanks to them with internet for instance. And the world is ready for them i Think.
Culture can help and UFFP? It proves that creativity is possible when civil society is involved. And culture with its many ways and forms can bring people together. I think any culture bridges the gap and create a real network of creation. Its already born, like a child in constant growing. Its constructed by us and for us and therefore a message like UNITED FASHION FOR PEACE can be very powerful !