Moterwriter.com caught up with author C Radhakrishnan and got him to talk a little about his novel Heart-Rending Times. This is what transpired in the tête-à-tête with the author.
Moterwriter: Let us start with something nice and easy. What was your childhood like?
MW: How did the drastic change from the world of science to the world of literature happen?
CR: Believe me, there was no change. Honestly, I am neither a scientist nor a writer; I am just a simple human being. In fact, all of us are both to varying degrees though we don’t get the chance to feel that way. We dream, don’t we all? We also do reason, don’t we? There you are! In fact we are a lot more: we manage our accounts, tend do our garden, attend to electrical and plumbing emergencies in our homes, try a trick if the car refuses to start, why, even prescribe the treatment for our ailments on our own! The fact is one can never cease to be anything!
MW: What experiences inspired the storyline for ‘Heart-Rending Times’?
CR: As a journalist I got the chance to report the left-extremist upsurge of the 1970’s; I naturally followed up some of the survivors through India’s ill-famed National Emergency during which all Fundamental Rights granted by the Constitution were suspended. Madness ruled the law-enforcers for a while.
MW: Whose story is it really? Anuradha’s or India’s?
CR: It was almost like a hoard of wild animals released upon the defenceless. Anuradha represents the nation, motherhood and the thirst for justice. Terror sponsored by the establishment is no less harmful as was evinced by the later phase of the Khalistan moment of Punjab.
MW: Compared to the other books in the trilogy this one had more pain and darkness? Was this also the hardest book to write?
CR: Yes, it was difficult. Though we writers have access to many a character trait within ourselves, we do not enjoy identifying with some of them; in this work I had to most of the time to the extent I almost began to hate myself. The gas burner often cooks up one’s fingers but the construct in mind keeps one going.
MW: Can you describe the changes you’ve witnessed in the society at the local and national level from then (from the world presented in the book) to the present time?
CR: Habits die hard as they say. The Emergency was lifted but terrorism has grown global. In India atrocities to women continue! Gang-rape and burning at stake get reported too often for comfort. And India is so vast a place that there are ‘news black-holes’ in remote places even today; a lot probably goes unknown.
MW: What kind of response do you hope readers will have to this English language translated version of your book?
CR: Let the world get to know what has been and is happening in India, a nation with a great tradition which does not translate itself into values for the present. It is almost the same story anywhere in the world today – women are suffering, children too. Repression dons the garb of protection! The modesty of mother earth is violated again and again even in the name of beautification and preservation!
MW: Have you ever wanted to revisit any of your books and change something about it? If so, which was the book and what did you want to change?
CR: A book done is almost a child born or a tree already in blossom. It stays as long as it can. There is no question of redoing any part of it later. Moreover, it isn’t ‘yours’ any longer; it is public property!
MW: When you write books that are high on emotional content, does it leave you physically drained? If so, how do you cope with it?
CR: Of course it takes a great lot of energy (even reduces body weight) but happy writing leaves one rejuvenated. In fact I judge the quality of a work just finished by the happiness of contentment it provides. On the other hand, if it leaves one tired, it isn’t good enough!
MW: You are also a scientist, so how does that compare with being a writer?
CR: As mentioned earlier, the two avenues are complementary. The pleasure derived from writing a novel is the same as that obtained by formulating, say, a new concept in physics. For instance, I have just pieced together a new physical model for the universe; it is awaiting publication. It gives a lot of elation as it too is a thing of beauty. I remember Prof. Jabob Brownowski telling me while I interviewed him in Mumbai long back for the Science Today magazine of the Times of India: ‘Art is wonderful beauty and science is beautiful wonder.’
MW: Is there a common theme or emotion that you like to address in all your writing?
CR: The common theme that I address is the incompatibility of emotional perspectives with intellectual convictions. In simple terms the problem is: one doesn’t like what one does and/or can’t get to doing what one likes. Most part of human suffering ensues from these situations. Society too suffers. For instance, ‘one should love the other as one loves oneself’ is an intellectual conviction almost everybody has. But most fail to comply as it is not an emotional need unlike in a mother looking after her child. I believe that all arts have the common purpose of integrating thoughts and emotions so as to make one wholesome.
MW: Are there any more stories to be told from the Arjun chronicles? Have you thought about it?
CR: The Arjun chronicle is complete with the exit of Arjun himself in ‘Now for a Tearful Smile’. (The Arjun trilogy is the last of a trilogy of trilogies – nine titles in all. The first trilogy covers the socio-cultural transformation of the Kerala society brought about by the sudden flood of science and technology; the second deals with the pros and cons of revolutions of all kinds.)
MW: When can we expect your next book?
CR: I am doing a commentary on the Bhagawat Gita bringing modern science to bear upon it. Though there have been hundreds of commentaries already none, I find, has approached it without any bias whatsoever.
MW: And lastly, thank you for parting with your valuable time C Radhakrishnan and all the very best for your writing.
CR: My pleasure. Thank you.
Connect with him at – http://c-radhakrishnan.info