Meet the SHEROES - Monideepa Sahu
From a banker to a writer, how did that happen?
I applied for the State Bank of India Probationary Officers exam just after completing my post graduation from Delhi University. To my eternal surprise, I was among the 500 candidates selected from nearly two lakh applicants. The job took me all over the country. I got first-hand experiences of our cultural, linguistic and geographic diversity. Many of those encounters are finding their way into the stories I write.
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While my professional responsibilities increased exponentially, I got married and became a mother. I found it difficult to give my best to all these aspects of my life, which were equally important to me. After much introspection, I resigned from my bank job and opted to be a stay-at-home mom. It is a decision I have never regretted. I grew up along with my son, and today he is my best buddy and critic.
My parents nurtured my love from reading from early childhood. English Literature was a natural choice when I entered college. I returned to that first love and continued to read whatever I could. Writing and reading go hand-in-hand. My first feature article was published, and I happily wrote more as the ideas flowed. I also joined on-line creative writing workshops and e-groups and exchanged short stories and critiques with writers from around the world.
A writer's journey is a difficult and lonely one. For each short story published in a foreign literary journal or anthology, there have been many, many rejections. My first book, Riddle of the Seventh Stone, lay hidden in my hard drive until Zubaan Books selected it a winner in the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival Open Book Pitch.
What inspires you to write?
I see stories everywhere, in the people and scenes around me. My stories are often inspired by places or real-life incidents. For example, while researching for a feature story on Bangalore's Avenue Road, I visited a shop specialising in herbs and spices. The shop was a very old one, with antique photographs and shelves lined with dusty jars of herbs. I spotted a rat scurrying in a corner, while a spider was busy weaving a cobweb on a shelf. Riddle of the Seventh Stone took off from here, and my imagination filled in the rest.
Message to all the SHEROES out there
I hope the wonderful SHEROES continue to follow their dreams and never give up. But it's easier said than done. Life can overwhelm us with pitfalls and impossible challenges. We can get bogged down by the daily routine, and exhaust ourselves in completing dull and ordinary tasks that must be done.
Sometimes we will not achieve our goals no matter how hard we try. At such times especially, we need to appreciate ourselves and those around us for the simple and ordinary but good things. If we are positive ourselves and spread good vibes, we can create the right conditions for dreaming and making those dreams come true. Let’s appreciate what we have rather than grow bitter and resentful by brooding on what we cannot have. It isn’t essential to have high flown ambitions or destroy others with that killer instinct.
Often, small moments of joy make life worth living. Sometimes it’s enough to be responsible, kind and generous. It’s hard work being a good friend, parent, employee and citizen. Such women are true SHEROES.