Pink Pen Diaries – Episode 2 : Anuja Chandramouli (Part 2)

Pink Pen Diaries - Episode 2 : Anuja Chandramouli (Part 2)

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We began Pink Pen Diaries to assimilate extremely interesting authors for lots of insights on their writing process, their protagonists, especially women, and their perspectives on various aspects of writing. Episode 2 went live on 23rd September with Anuja Chandramouli, bestselling Indian author and TEDx speaker. It was a liberating session, to say the least, with Anuja at her best, answering our questions. Here’s a detailed take on everything we had discussed. This is the second and last part. 

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6. Who do you think the narrative must change for this character?

I am very sympathetic to those who are derided as monsters and villains. Take the Asuras in general and Mahishasura or the Buffalo demon in particular. He has always been seen as one of the evillest characters ever and most people don’t trouble to get to know his backstory. But his origin story is one that is marred with unspeakable violence, deceit and hatred. His father Rambha and uncle, Karamba had been engaged in severe tapas to win boons and bring forth strong sons. Indra was threatened and contrived to kill Karamba. Rambha persevered despite his grief over the loss of his brother and succeeded in winning a boon. Indra’s malice followed him like a shadow and on his orders, Kama shot a dart at Rambha inducing him to fall in love with a she – buffalo. Ostracized in his own Kingdom, Rambha and his pregnant wife were harassed and attacked even as they fled, and eventually killed at the time of Mahishasura’s birth. When viewed in this light, his hatred of the Devas and Indra as well as desire for revenge is understandable. Which is not to say, I condone his excesses. That said, I am glad he found salvation and peace at the feet of Durga. 

Other misunderstood characters are Surpanakha, Kaikeyi, Mantra, who have been reviled over the centuries for their dark deeds. These were instruments of fate, who were pushed into behaving as they did by a chain of circumstances that were not always in their control. Hating them is pointless when it would be kinder to make an attempt to understand why they did what they did. 

7. Who is the most progressive character? The one who we need to understand and learn from. 

Krishna is a very progressive character. I love that he is tolerant, inclusive and non – judgemental. Kali is pretty amazing too! It is so cool how she couldn’t care less about her looks when she is out there doing her thing which includes wearing a garland of skulls, prancing around in a state of undress as she performs her dance of destruction, getting drunk on blood, all while being a mother to all in creation. 

8. Rapid fire – Your favourite character Male (other than Arjuna or Krishna) favourite character female, supporting cast, best comic timing etc

Kartikeya is a great favourite of mine because he is a sweetheart and a really affectionate presence. Shakti is another favourite because she doesn’t shy away from embracing her raw power. As for supporting characters I like Bhima for his forthrightness and Garuda! I also like Indra’s comic timing. He is hilarious and totally owns his wickedness when he hatches his endless schemes to hold on to power at all cost. 

9. Your perspective on Sita, what do you think of her? Would you write about her sometime?

Sita is a lovely character and I really admire her courage and dignity under duress. It sucks to be abducted and held captive by one who seeks to possess your body and soul. While it was admirable that she refused to yield to the advances made by her captor, I wouldn’t have judged her for giving in if she had. Sita maintained her equanimity and dignity during the worst phases of her life, like when she was forcibly held against her will, or when her husband sent her off into the forest while she was pregnant with his sons. Not once, did she rail, rant, rave or rage against her lot though it would have been perfectly justified for her to do so.

The trial by fire must have been an ordeal worse than her imprisonment. I hate that women are constantly expected to offer proof of their virtue and are subjected to ridiculous tests which do little more than hurt or kill them. Still, I can’t help but applaud her for refusing to prove herself a second time and I would recommend that all women follow her example. If at all, you feel the urge to prove something, prove it to yourself not the rest of an indifferent humanity. 

10. What is the role played by destiny in our lives and what about personal choice?

The way I see it, destiny does play a role in our life. Which is not to say, we should settle down on our backsides and surrender to fate. The path ahead may already be predetermined but the nature of our journey to the destination allocated for us will always be in our hands and we have to do the best we can. We can choose to make the route better for ourselves and our fellow travellers or we can persist in making a mess and refuse to clean up after ourselves. To reiterate, sometimes, we will not be given a choice and that is okay for it is up to us to make the best or worst of it, but when the choice is in our hands, we need to make it count more often than not, simply because it is the smart thing to do. 

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