The Fire Within

Lata reports about a book launch of Neelam Saxena Chanda and picks the mind of the able poet-writer, exclusively in Different Truths.

Neelam Saxena Chandra, a bureaucrat, a thinker, a writer, a poet, yet always having a thirst for knowledge, so always a learner.

“I am actually a trained engineer and they say that to be one, the right side of the brain is more active, but I feel the left side of my brain ( the creative side) is also hyperactive and my feelings flow like a river even as I try to translate this gush into words,” confesses this multi-faceted  lady.

Talking about her latest book, Zindagi Ka Alaav, Neelam talks about the fire burning in the heart of every woman; the motivational fire that should keep burning to have josh and junoon.

This book has been dedicated to Dr. Khalid Alvi, a renowned Urdu Maestro.

In a candid tête-à-tête at the book launch at Marwah Sudios, Noida, hosted by Dr.  Mridula Tandon, social activist and writer, Dr. Alvi engages in a stimulating discussion with this prolific writer. 

Dr. Alvi asks her if her writings are too women-centric.

Neelam confesses that as she is a woman herself and talking about female issues comes naturally. Also having a transferable job she has met myriad women from different cultural backgrounds, listened to their stories, their trials, and tribulations. She has seen the injustices meted out to women, she has experienced their pain, and she has seen the alav burning in their hearts.

An excerpt from one of her poems talks about the anguish of Sita when Sri Ram asks her to leave. She asks Sita, “What did you feel when Sri Ram relinquishes you at the behest of a mere dhobi? Did you feel anger, hatred, anguish, helplessness or did you feel a fire burning in your soul? This fire that burnt in the heart of every woman who has faced injustice and been harmed by this cruel unforgiving world?

Cheekh is the silent scream of every tortured woman that sears your very soul with its intensity. The ever-suffering helpless woman whose angst bursts into a searing flame as she faces death even before being born, death for dowry, rape, brutality, humiliation and physical and mental torture in this cruel male-dominated society.

Her words force us to look at the ugly reality that woman face every day in this so-called emancipated society.  

Ruh ke ronghte khare ho jaate hain and the heart shrieks and echoes the same cheekhs as our conscience is pricked. 

“But isn’t a woman sometimes responsible for the suffering of another woman, like Kekaiye,” asks Dr. Alvi.

Yes, history has witnessed many a woman responsible for cruelty even wars.

“Do people listen to you because you are an officer and would you get so much appreciation if you were not? Asks Alvi, tongue-in-cheek.

“Yes I am happy that I am Joint Secretary, UPSC, but my shers have nothing to do with my position. My thoughts just flow and I try to encapsulate my feelings into words, poems, stories. I never consciously plan what I want to write on,” asserts this brilliant writer.

This empowered woman is happy to state that now women are coming out of their shells and taking bold strides towards emancipation. “First there were a few rivulets which have now become strong rivers of rebellion against archaic mind sets.”

©Lata Pall

Photos from the Internet

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