Says author and journalist Kusum Choppra, as she speaks of her recently published book.
A journalist for close to four decades, Kusum Choppra turned to writing a decade ago and has published four novels so far, including Mastani, Beyond Diamond Rings and a short story collection called Nirbhaya and others who dared. We catch up with her in Pune to chat about her new book, Silver Dreams. Excerpts:
How did you get to writing Silver Dreams?
Very broad question. First things first, it is the only such English book (romance) for senior citizens. We have enough and more books that speak of romance for youngsters. Beyond a point, it gets boring. I was tired of reading the same stuff over and over again. And being a senior citizen myself, I thought why not write something for people my age! Something senior citizens can relate to and that reminds us of our younger days and has meat. That’s how I got to writing this book in 2015.
About the book...
The plot revolves around two senior citizens — Kinnary and Rana — who meet in a retirement home, and the romance that brews between the two. It talks about handling a sensitive relation, while facing the odds that society poses for a couple, who want to come together in their silver innings. The book travels to a number of places — Mumbai, Delhi, West Indies, Thailand etc — where the protagonists meet their respective children and try to bring them into the fold of one single family.
Were the characters inspired by someone in your life?
(Laughs) I am still in love with Rana. He is a handsome man in his 70s, who sings amazing Hindi songs in a ‘sexy’ voice. I had given a print of the first couple of chapters that I wrote to some friends. I needed their review. The very next day, a friend called, and said, ‘Can you give me Rana’s contact?’, and I responded, ‘What will happen to my Kinnary then?’ Jokes apart, Rana is this dream boy coming completely out of my head; no resemblance whatsoever with anyone.
Kinnary is like everyone’s grandma. She is this eternal optimist, trying to soothe tempers and negativity. She always sees the positive in every situation and convinces Rana to let bygones be bygones. She uses all her wisdom of 60 years to handle situations. Both of them are in love with flowers. Rana loves planting them and Kinnary, appreciating their beauty.
What about the taboo surrounding romance between senior citizens?
I wonder why it is a taboo. Why don’t they have the right to find love? My book has a number of romantic scenes and even three sex scenes. A reader told me that it is after reading Silver Dreams that he realised senior citizens too could have sex.
You seem to have strong female characters in all your books. Tell us about them.
Yes, very much. My second book, Beyond Diamond Rings speaks of a Sindhi family and the post-Partition turmoil that the family went through. It’s the women of the house that keep it bonded. Even in Mastani, I have told the story from her point of view. We have constantly had history talk about her as the ‘Muslim dancer’. But that’s not true. She was much more than that, and rather hardly that.
Nirbhaya and others who dared is also a collection of short stories about women. The stories talk about rape, widowhood, incest, impotency and other such less-spoken issues that bog women. So yes, I like to talk about strong women and the way they give it back to life. I believe that women have evolved much faster and much better as compared to men, over the years.
I am working on a ‘collaborative novel’. We are a group of 10 authors writing one single story. It’s a novel concept and began with a story I had written long ago. Each of us writes one chapter and we weave the story together. We are more than halfway through the book.
It is an extremely challenging thing to do. Ten of us get an equal number of perspectives to the story, and we are a cross section consisting of doctors, teachers, and writers. It should be out next year.
The author can be followed on Twitter @vinaya_patil