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In conversation with Paromita Goswami
Grow Up Messy is a story of a 5-year-old girl Misry who is called as Messy by everyone because of the mess she creates. Misry father has a job which makes him change cities frequently.
The story is from the point of view of Messy which shows her innocence and guile. Messy is a ball of anxiousness and excitement which causes a ruckus and hence she got coined as Messy.
- How did you come up with the idea? Were you like Misry as a child?
Throughout the story it is cute and sweet moments of a mother-daughter relationship in which makes the read more enjoyable.
Every child wants to be like Misry, akka Messy. She is free like a bird and curious like a cat. My inspiration of penning down this beautiful story is for the kids of today’s generation. They are so piled up in their studies pressure or are gazette freak that they don’t know what they are missing in life. The story is set in an era, the early eighties, when there was no television set in most of our homes.
Was I like Misry as a child? Misry lives in every adult who had experienced an adventurous childhood and I am one of them.
- Are there parenting lessons in Misry’s tale?
She lives with her father Anurag, a paramilitary border security force (B.S.F) personnel, and mother, Madhavi, in the border out post (BOP) camp near Indo-Bangladesh border in West Bengal, India.
Misry’s tale has lots of such moments which a parent can easily relate to. As a Mom I too wondered if it was okay to do that with my child. For example,
Misry’s character in the book Grow Up Messy! is that of an innocent child who depends more on her mother for her smaller needs. The best part is she expects her mother to know everything like a superwoman. She believes there is nothing which her Ma cannot do or hasn’t seen. So when she requests her mother to make Pinjiri, something which she had tasted for the first time elsewhere, it never occurred to her that Ma might not know about its preparation.
You can read more such facts about the book in my website:
- That is an interesting setting. Tell us how you came up with it?
Cramped in two or three bedroom Apartment in a metro city with hardly any space for the children to play outside compelled me to look for an alternate setting. It is the fact today. Children either end up playing in the street or parking areas.
They say playground is the best teacher. So I made the setting of my book vast. And there can be no better way than the villages and the sleepy smaller towns near a metro city.
Since I am Bengali, Kolkata is my first choice of a metro city. And idealizing a place nearby the big city was never a problem as I had been there many times to meet my extended family. So that’s how Misry’s Dadu’s house came into my mind, a sleepy town on the outskirts of Howrah. And the setting of B.S.F campus is also inspired by my real life experience as I grew up in that environment. In both the settings I used the facts more that fantasy as I believe that makes the plot more real.
- Writing fiction that caters to the children and the young readers is a steep challenge. What made you choose the genre?
“Choose the genre”, a very good question Paulami. Thanks for putting it up. Actually I don’t write genre specific books. I am more inclined towards the story or the plot. So when Messy was penned I had no doubts that it would be equally liked by both children and adult. Something that each of us as adults still remember doing in your childhood.
One happy hilarious moment when we can be a child again – Grow Up Messy!
Yes of course, when writing for children and young readers there is certain criteria that you have to keep in mind. Although the book, Grow Up Messy! is from a child’s perspective, it has been very much appreciated by the adults too.
- You also run the Raipur Little Minds Book Reading Club. Tell us something about this.
I started this club to enhance reading habits in children. Print media is one thing today’s kids in our part of world don’t enjoy. Because it takes effort to understand and visualize when you read a book which in case of electronic media is effortless. And mostly kids take that way as they are spending more time getting ready for the rat race in their near future. Courtesy is us , the adults, parents. We want them to do just about everything and that too fast, even gulping a glass of milk. So they take easy when they are left alone. So easy that picking a book and reading for mere pleasure looks very tiring.
I would like to share an incident here. On my son’s birthday, I gave each of the invited child Amar Chitra Katha Comics as return gift. I was very excited when I was distributing it, remembering my childhood times when I use to share it with my friends. But I was in for a surprise. None of children were ready to go home. I told them the birthday party was over. They replied they were waiting for the return gift. I just gave you that I said. Their answer shocked me.
“It’s no gift. It’s a book.”
I had no doubts that I had to start the reading club and it has been an year since then.
- Your previous book Shamsuddin’s Grave has a very different plotline and is a completely different genre. Tell us something about Shamsuddin’s Grave.
Shamsuddin’s Grave is different zone completely. It’s more of a tear jerker. A book based on critical issue of illegal migrants from Bangladesh in Assam. The book talks about the scenario of today’s issue in the state of Assam. The setting of the book is in Guwahati and how this issue along with many other is affecting its people. It is a social drama based on the lives of two people – one is Shamsuddin, the daily wager who moved into the city for a better living and another is Latika, the N.G.O activist who is back home after a shattered personal life. How their paths cross and intermingle on the wide canvas where so many shades colours from the palette of today’s life paint their life, sometimes deep, sometimes light.
You can know more about the book from the goodread reviews.
- Tell us about the rebel Paromita Goswami. Something crazy that you have done.
Laughs. Rebel yeah! So here it goes.
One day while returning from office I took a cycle rickshaw to reach home early. Usually I walked home. Certainly not for doing exercise but for saving money. It was a time when I lived on my own and even a single penny counted. My father didn’t approve my decision of moving out of the house and so I knew I had to fend on my own no matter what. So I always kept that in mind.
So that very day, this guy whose cycle rickshaw I had boarded was pissed off for some reason. He was muttering under his breath all the way but brought me safely to my place. It was a fifteen rupees ride. I gave him a twenty rupees note and waited for him to give me back the five rupees change. But he didn’t. I knew he was overcharging cause I mostly take rickshaw ride while on my way to the office. I asked him and he said the rates had changed. We had an argument. I don’t mind giving tips for good service but this man was trying to steal my money and I couldn’t let him do that. I didn’t get down from the rickshaw. It stood right in front of my gate but I didn’t get down.
Looking at my intentions the man started pulling crowd to gain sympathy saying how an educated girl like me was ruining his daily business. I saw the crowd looking at me with questioning eyes. But I didn’t get down. When they started asking me I said upfront the man was cheating me. Luckily, most of the people in the crowd were Rickshaw boarders like me and took my side. The man ultimately had to pay me back the extra money he had taken.
Sometimes when I still remember that incident I laugh out loud now.
Message for new writers.
Enjoy your writing. Don’t get influenced by what others are writing. If you have a story inside you then don’t hesitate to bring it out. Someone somewhere is waiting to read it.