16th May 2018

Guest Author Sumana Roy grew up as a small-town girl from Siliguri who longed for her city to be in the limelight and in the national news. But that rarely happened. This, she later came to realize, was a blessing in disguise and she liked Siliguri for its “remarkable ordinariness”.

We lead anti-septic lives and have turned our lives into hospitals; the unit of family is changing; our divorce from nature is almost complete, were some of the candid confessions of Sumana, an author whose depth of thoughts were way beyond her age.

The culmination of her life experiences in marriage and other relationships helped her escape her emotional overload and much of this took place in the healing spirit of her home town. Exposure to “remarkable ordinariness” and her stay with a group of millennials in Delhi, had a profound effect on her thoughts, worldview and formed the crux of her books “How I Became a Tree” and “missing”.

Conversationalist Swati Gautam helped the young guest author at the 56th session of An Author’s Afternoon narrow-down her narrative to the incidents and anecdotes that inspired her to write her books. “A tree gives more than what it gets and without any expectations. I found this idea fascinating,” says Sumana.

Perhaps living like a tree seemed to be the best way to escape from the concept of so called “being human”. Being human is not a great thing to her. Most of the deadliest evils are the gifts from the human beings. Thus, she is against the thought of celebrating ‘humanism’.

The author delved deep into the subject and her quest for people, artists, philosophers and others who have had similar ideas introduced to her the life and works of Buddha, scientist J C Bose, Bibhuti Bhushan Bandhopadhyay, Tagore, D H Lawrence, William James and many others. Her literary quest also covered myths and mythologies of the world.

Her second book “missing” is about women and their roles in the society since times immemorial. This book is based on real life events about a social activist who left her family to trace a molested girl and herself went missing.

She shared her own views of women in Ramayana and Tagore’s works and how the society has been fed on a single narrative. What if Sita had purposely crossed the “Lakshman Rekha”?

She shared her views on a “…life of alternative possibilities”.

The session weighed heavy on most of the audience, but the author, given the overwhelming presence of ladies, had struck a chord.

Watch a glimpse of the conversation