Author interview: Srimati Ray talks about her book of poems 'On the Wings of Time'
"The poems reflect my thoughts on nostalgia, love, hope, nature, life, and my dreams of a better tomorrow," says Srimati Ray about her first published book.
You are not a full-time writer. How and when did you manage time to write in between your regular career?
I am a medical practitioner by profession but due to health issues I have been confined within the four walls for the most part of the last fifteen years. For someone who went through the long and arduous journey of studying medicine but eventually was not able to practice it, it has been extremely unnerving to say the least. But I have always managed to keep my spirits high and besides managing household chores, I have been able to devote a lot of my time to reading and writing.
What kind of books inspire you as a writer? Who are your favourite authors and poets?
I have a predilection for books that recount events of the past, and Ramachandra Guha is someone whose work has inspired me a lot. But having said that, I also have a penchant for fictional work and Amitav Ghosh and Harper Lee are some of my favourite authors. And finally, Rabindranath Tagore who I believe has left his footprints not only in every Bengali household but among the global literary diaspora. He continues to be an enigma to me.
Why did you want to become a writer? Who inspired you to become a writer? What triggered you to come into writing?
It was difficult to adjust to the new way of life once my symptoms worsened in 2005, and I could barely step out. But as they say, when one door closes another one opens. Though I pursued the medical profession, I have always been an avid reader and have religiously followed good literary work. And it is indeed literature that came to my rescue. I began writing poems not with the objective of publishing a book someday but merely because it gave me solace and before I could realise, it became my happy space.
What are you doing to let readers know about your book?
Though I have shared snippets of my work on Facebook, I do not have great social media presence in general. So it is mostly my close family and friends who are currently aware of the book release, and I am hoping more people will hear about the book by word of mouth.
Tell us something about your book. Some highlights.
The poems reflect my thoughts on nostalgia, love, hope, nature, life, and my dreams of a better tomorrow. While some of the poems are anecdotes from my personal life, most of them portray human emotions and the bountiful gifts that nature has to offer, which a wider audience can relate to.
Tell us something about yourself and your background.
I was born in a Bengali middle class household in 1957. Due to my father’s transferable job in the West Bengal Civil Service, we had to move around a fair bit during my childhood days. After graduating from high school in 1973, I pursued my MBBS from Calcutta National Medical College and after having worked for a few years post completion of my degree, I tied the knot with Dr Ranada Sankar Ray, also a medical practitioner.
However, in an unfortunate turn of events, I was diagnosed with a congenital disorder in 1988, following which I underwent a massive surgery at AIIMS. My health showed signs of improvement and a couple of years later I was blessed with a son. I even started assisting my better half in surgeries but in 2005, my symptoms began to re-emerge and gradually worsened, until I had immense difficulty in walking and became confined within the four walls.
Do you plan to take it up as a full-time profession if the response is good?
When I began composing poems, publishing a book was probably the last thing on my mind. In all honesty, if someone ever told me this were to happen, I would probably have rubbished their claims. So this is already quite huge for me. But yes, since writing is so dear to me, I would like to hold on and cultivate it more, and if things fall in place, hopefully I shall have enough content to come up with another book in the near future.