Aniesha Brahma is a twenty-six-year-old author who has been chasing her dream for the last twenty years. She loves cats and is very fond of the five that her family has adopted: Pippo, Chhotie, Motu, Potki and Jerry. When she is not writing stories, or thinking of plots, she’s busy updating her social media presence.
Vinita Kinra: Welcome to Global Asian Times, Aniesha. Tell us something about yourself that not many people are aware of.
Aniesha Brahma: Hello, Vinita. Thank for having me here! I guess not many people are aware of the fact that I do indeed have a day job. And I moonlight as a writer.
Vinita Kinra: Share with us the moment when your heart said to you: “I want to be a writer!”
Aniesha Brahma: I was absolutely in love with fairy tales. When I was six, my poem was published in our school’s magazine. It was a wall magazine, you know. So I kept walking to the board and staring at my own name, and just decided that I’m going to be a writer. And it’s been constant to date.
Vinita Kinra: What sparked the idea for your debut novella, When Our Worlds Collide?
Aniesha Brahma: I guess the whole notion that everyone meets at least one person in their lives who they really, really like, but for some reason they are not able to be together. So what do they do? What do you do when two different worlds collide? And thus was born, When Our Worlds Collide. And the challenge to write something that wasn’t a clichéd romance. That helped, too.
Vinita Kinra: Who has been your greatest mentor?
Aniesha Brahma: For writing, my English teachers back in school and all the great authors that I grew up reading were my mentors. As regards life in general, I’ve always looked up to my mother and my elder sister.
Vinita Kinra: Give us a peek into your debut book, The Secret Proposal.
Aniesha Brahma: I wrote The Secret Proposal as a part of NaNoWriMo in 2011 and I guess I was venting pent up feelings. You know the first person you like as a kid, and never truly get over? It was the story of Jasmine and Veer, five years apart, and caught in a vicious cycle of loving and not loving each other. The basic premise is that Veer does not want to be married, so he forces Jasmine to pretend to be his fiancée. That is hard for the poor girl to do because she’s madly in love with him. Even though I am very fond of the story, I think I grew up a lot since the time I wrote the fairy tale love story of Jasmine and Veer.
Vinita Kinra: If one of your books was to be adapted as a Bollywood film, which would it be and why?
Aniesha Brahma: When Our Worlds Collide, I believe would make a nice Bollywood film. Mostly because it has almost everything that a Bollywood movie needs. Also because I think it’s the story the audience would be able to relate to the most.
Vinita Kinra: Was your publishing journey fraught with pitfalls or did you have beginner’s luck?
Aniesha Brahma: I had beginner’s luck. Then there were pitfalls and a feeling of hopelessness. But things started looking up again, and I guess When Our Worlds Collide is the lucky break. Knock on wood!
Vinita Kinra: If you were marooned on an island with just one book, which would it be and why?
Aniesha Brahma: The Harry Potter Series. Oh wait, you said just one book. So if I can’t have the whole series, then I’ll settle for Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster. I love that book and I’ve already lost count of how many times I’ve read it. It always gives me hope. So, it would be my obvious choice.
Vinita Kinra: Do you think writing books is a viable career option as opposed to conventional professions?
Aniesha Brahma: It honestly depends from person to person. But life is a little difficult to lead on a writer’s pay cheque when you’re just starting out.
Vinita Kinra: In your personal context, is writing about escaping the reality or embracing it?
Aniesha Brahma: A little bit of both, to be completely honest. I write to escape from things I have no control over. Because let’s face it, writing is a chance for the author to play God. At the same time, we write to accept realities as well.
Vinita Kinra: Apart from writing, what are your other passions?
Aniesha Brahma: I read a lot. I got a Nook Book for my 25th birthday and I keep reading books on it. And I keep buying books and I keep getting books. I love watching movies. Especially animated movies and I follow a fair amount of serials. Since I don’t find time to watch serials on a daily basis, I kind of have a marathon by myself every Saturday night. I am also very interested in sewing and cooking. I also like drawing cartoons.
“Hey – Hi…can I get an Irish whiskey?” A guy who’d just occupied the stool on my left asked. There was something oddly familiar about his voice.
“Coming right up,” the bar-girl called to him, moving away from me.
I looked around and almost fell off my stool in shock. There next to me sat my ex-classmate’s boyfriend – Zayn.
He must have felt someone staring at him because the very next second he looked around and met my eyes. I saw his confused expression change once he could place me.
“Yes,” I replied, “Are you here to recite poetry?”
He laughed, “I am actually here to just listen tonight.”
“My phone has died, Surbhi. I need to make a call right now!” A woman had joined us, calling out to the bar-girl. “Where’s the bar’s phone?”
Surbhi, who was busy making Zayn’s drink, called back, “Does this look like the 90s to you? There’s no bar phone.”
I studied the tiny woman with interest. Even with her wedges, she would be no more than five feet two inches tall. She hardly looked older than I was, dressed in a black knee length dress. Her curly hair was tied back with a scarf, and behind her rimless glasses, her soft brown eyes looked worried. Her mouth was in a straight-line as she thought about her predicament. I felt so bad for her that I spoke to her without realizing it.
“You can use my phone, if you want.”
“Oh, can I? That would be so great. Thank you.”
I gave her my phone and watched her make the call that was so important to her. Zayn smiled at me.
“What?” I asked, almost defensively.
“You’re really nice,” he commented, “Most people wouldn’t let strangers borrow their phone.”
Surbhi set his glass down in front of him and said, “She’s not a stranger, man. That’s Suzanna. She’s the one who organizes all these Poetry Slams.”
My eyes went as round as saucers, “Wait – what? That’s Suzanna? As in the Suzanna, the one-woman force behind the Poetry Slams in the city?”
“The one and only,” Suzanna answered, appearing at my elbow. She held out my phone to me, “It’s nice to meet you too.”
“I’m Akriti,” I introduced myself, “And this is Zayn.”
Vinita Kinra is a Toronto-based author, editor, speaker and activist, best known for her short story collection, Pavitra in Paris, launched to critical acclaim in 2013. She is also a contributor for India’s largest English daily, The Times of India.