The 47th session of An Author’s Afternoon on 12 August 2017 had Himanjali Sankar, a local Kolkata girl, as the Guest Author. She was in a tete-a-tete with Swati Gautam in a power-packed discussion that touched upon serious topics and issues like patriarchy, feminism, teenagers, relationships and dementia.
Himanjali Sankar grew up in Kolkata. She completed her Masters and M Phil in English Literature from JNU, New Delhi. She taught English to undergraduate students and has been an editor with various publishing houses. Her first book for children, The Magical Adventures of Skinny Scribbles, was published in May 2012.
From writing children’s books, Himanjali switched to adult fiction with Mrs C Remembers. This was a book based on her personal experience with her mother who was suffering from dementia. She did fictionalize many aspects of her experience to make it more exciting to the reader. This novel is best described as “...piercing exploration of the limits of submission, of illness and upheaval, and the unfathomable powers of the human mind”.
“In JNU you question your own principles and thoughts,” she said explaining her approach to various topics that find a place in her novels. As a writer of books on children and teenagers, Himanjali feels that when children become teenagers they develop a mind of their own and begin to question you which is a part of growing up.
Her works deals with inter-personal relationships in the the backdrop of broader set ups like patriarchy, issues of feminism and so on. “Both men and women are the victims of patriarchy,” she feels alluding to the concept of “effeminate men in Bengal”. Her other book, Talking of Muskaan is all about powerful women in a patriarchal society. It is a coming-of-age account of a girl realising that she is a lesbian.
Analysing the position of women in India, Himanjali said that there is a certain freedom in the way women are brought up in Calcutta. It is much better than other parts of India, she said.
The audience, who felt connected with the author, were highly enthused and spurred by the topics discussed. They had many questions and Shree Cement sponsored An Author’s Afternoon had one of the longest question and answer sessions.