Monday, April 1, 2013

Life of a Poet ~ Akila

We all enjoyed our last trip to India so much, I decided we needed to make a return trip, this time to Hyderabad, in southern India, where Akila can be found penning her poems at Novel Ideas! Hold onto your armrests, for we're touching down, and there is a world of color and beauty waiting for us right outside the aircraft's door.




P.U.: Akila, So nice to be sitting down with you! Tell us your story, kiddo, maybe starting with childhood?




Akila: Memories of my childhood are spread across four cities in three different states in India where we lived and moved from, as part of my father’s work. Studying across seven schools in four cities has been quite a rewarding experience in developing an attitude and outlook towards people, languages, cultures, places…life as a whole, unity in diversity. I met some wonderful people cherished as friends and I am connected today with most of them, thanks to the phenomena of social networking! It is so difficult to pick one of the many wonderful memories. I do relive those days when I see my daughter playing with her friends in our sprawling residential campus.

P.U.: Have you always loved reading, like most writers? Is there a book, a story or myth that had a big impact on you as a child, that set you dreaming?

Akila: Well, yes. I have always loved reading. I started with Tinkle (quite popular in India) and got hold of my first abridged version of a classic (Oliver Twist) when I was around 9 yrs old; and to this day Charles Dickens remains my favourite. I love the way he spun tales around human emotions and characters....something you can pick and relate with.

P.U.: Tell us about your family today.



Akila: I have been married now for six years to Kartik and we are blessed with a daughter who turned three recently. We named her Hansini (meaning Swan). For now, I am put up in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh located in the southern part of India.

In a nutshell, the city is an enchanting confluence of different religions, faith and following. This coherent landscape can be found in other cities in India, as well.


Charminar, a landmark Hyderabad is famous for
~a mosque built in 1591 AD


P.U.: There is nothing more delightful than a little girl! With such a beautiful name!  When did you pick up a pen and write your first poem? And what is it about poetry that caused you to write a poem, as opposed to prose?

Akila: I was about ten years old when I wrote my first poem. I quite distinctly remember that incident when it was an assignment given in the school to write a poem in English and one of the prompts given was Grandmother!



My Maternal Grandma


I managed to fit my thoughts in a rhyming scheme. That is how I thought and understood poems to be written, to sound rhyming when read aloud. I do not recall the response to the poem in school, but it got published later in the annual journal and also in my father’s office magazine! When I read that piece now, it makes me laugh. Would you like to laugh with me? Here it is…

My dear grandmother
Is so sweet and lovely
She brings gifts, dear
For me and mummy.
She feeds me, she cuddles me
For she loves me very much
She is great and seventy
Tells stories in plenty!
Oh my dear grandmother
How I wish you were always near…

Well, grandma was not seventy yet, then. Nevertheless, began my tryst with poems…..!!

P.U.: Adorable! I can hear your grandma’s laughter, and see the love in her eyes! I found your page  “figments of fiction,” and saw that you write prose as well. What do you love about each genre?

Akila: I do dabble in prose. I began with poetry, stopped in between for the sake of academics, went to prose and finally found place and heart in poetry. Prose can be long and unwinding and often in the process the substance is lost. At the same time brevity could curtail fun of reading. Poetry is challenging: finding expressions, sometimes single words, for a thought.  Both have their own challenges. If the reader is hooked, consider it a reward! Else, there is always a next time, for we write for the sheer love of writing!


Birla, a temple made of pure white marble!
(editor's note: spectacular!)


P.U.: Yes, we do! You write often and very movingly about women’s abuse, oppression and discrimination. I can tell you feel strongly about these issues. I understand there can be cultural components, but your work speaks to the global woman, since women struggle all over the world. Have you observed this close at hand?

Akila: Does it take one, to be sensitized on this issue? I think these concerns have grown in me as I see my daughter growing up along with her friends, more or less of the same age. I know other mothers do think alike. 

These concerns are being echoed now, thanks to the active participation of the media. In a way it helps us to re-visit our legislation, understand the nuances of our culture, tradition, religion, practices and beliefs which, I am sure, do not in any manner advocate such horrendous acts. Overall, an introspection into our attitude and perceptions towards life and living. No one is born a criminal, they are made and to some extent society does have a part to play there.


Necklace Road, where the lake holds a statue of the Buddha

P.U. Wonderfully put, Akila. What is your greatest hope and dream for your daughter’s life?

Akila: I have, till now, not put down my wish or dream list. I wonder if I will do so for her, except that I and her father would stand by her as she evolves into a fine human being.

I wrote this poem for her:


Me and my daughter Hansini

My dear angel,

I wonder!
When you scamper hither - thither
With your 'little girl' gang
In sync with rhythmic anklets
Squealing over sweet nothings
Let out not a cry, nor a whimper, but
Flood barrels of tears
Fight and forget, forget and fight
Spin toddling tales...

Your blissful world
sees a toy in every object
a game in every act
a story in every word
A welcome Midas! touch.

Your laugher resounds
Scared of nothing...
tinkling bells of blissful ignorance, of
lust, exploitation, betrayal
Ruling under the garb of faith
Unleashing horror in the open
sometimes in safe havens, where
Trusted brethren become brutal
Barbaric! 

I wish not to think
Not in denial, but
Fear.

Your bountiful innocence
Sparkles life
Safe, hopefully
From becoming a victim
Of a spectacle of stony silences
Feasting on shame.
I worry

Pondering over words and emotions
To nurture you, my dear
In this mêlée.

I have nothing, but trust in my garden
Where you will be reared to blossom
To think, choose, opine
Responsibly, capably, fearlessly
Be graced with respect
Seen as an equal, unconditionally.

When the hop, skip and jump
Would break into a flight
To rise and shine
May you breathe freedom
Sans worry of the clock
Freedom not defined by wardrobe
Nor by demeanour, but
To live!
Best,

Mom...

P.U.: What a spectacular poem, and vision for your daughter’s life! You are beautiful, Akila, and your daughter looks exactly like you! Thank you so much for sharing your dreams for her with us. Who would you say has had the most significant impact on your life and writing?


My Parents

Akila: From the time I began to write, I found my first audience and encouragement in my parents. It soon extended to include my husband, his parents and to one of his aunts, to mention specifically, who have contributed to my improvements. And most of all, all those visiting, reading and commenting on my posts, right from the time I began to blog (five years back) till date. Once the spark is kindled, the inspiration finds its way to the pen, from anything and everything thrown at you. Don’t you agree?

P.U.: Yes, I do! Is there a poem you have written that you feel describes well who you are? Or is  there a favourite poem you think you have written especially well?

Akila: All my poems have a bit of me, for I am largely shaped out of my own thoughts. So are all of us, mostly. Perhaps, the one written, for my dotty dear, shared above, for now, remains a poem close to my heart!

P.U.: What other things can we find you doing, when you are not writing?

Akila: Professionally, I am a consultant in the legal and financial domain, a daughter, a wife, a mother, a friend....:)


Biryani, a rice made of spices, vegetables and chicken
(yum!)

P.U.: You are a busy poet! What impact does blogging have on your writing?

Akila: It is very encouraging to have people reading and commenting on my posts. I really appreciate many of them who read all the posts submitted for a prompt or verse or topic. I find it difficult, sometimes, while juggling home, work and penning poems to reading all of them. But I try to do as much I as can. It keeps the flame for writing alive, improving, trying to learn and implement new things, thoughts, and techniques. I have come a long way from the time I began to write and further from the time I began blogging. Well, miles to go before I sleep....:)

P.U.: Are there a few writers on-line who encourage and inspire you?

Akila: There have been poets in and out of blogosphere who have been encouraging and inspiring. I sincerely appreciate and thank each one of them who take time to read my blogs and it keeps me ticking! I would be unfair in picking out a few names.

P.U.: How did you find Poets United, Akila?

Akila: I found Poets United on one of our fellow poets, Panchali’s, page. I have known her for quite some time now and am glad to have stayed connected with her.

P.U.: We are so happy that you did, and that you found your way to Poets United. Keep coming back! And kiss that bright little girl for us!

Another glorious trip to India, kids! It's one way this homebody gets to travel and glimpse life through another's eyes. Our visit - and Akila and her dotty's smiles - have warmed my heart, as I hope they have yours. Do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!

22 comments:

  1. Lovely to get to know Akila a little better. Thank you Sherry! Akila, your daughter's eyes shine. She looks confident, secure, and very present — well on the way to fulfilling your visions for her, thanks to your loving care.

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    1. Thank you Rosemary!

      will pass on your wishes to dear dotty! So happy to have connected with wonderful people here, bonded for the love of poetry!

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  2. Sherry, what a breath of fresh air this interview with Akila is today. Akila, I really have enjoyed getting to know you & your poetry through your blog; so seeing you featured here is 'icing on the cake.' How wonderful that you have been writing poetry since the age of nine and even still have your first poem; and also that your family is so supportive and encouraging of your talent. Your little daughter is beautiful.

    You said you came a long way in your writing since beginning to blog. I understand that, as I think I have too. I look forward to reading more of your poetry and think you for sharing here on Poets United, Akila.

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    1. Mary!


      so nice of you to say that. I am glad to be in the company of such wonderful poets from across the world! Thank you so much.

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  3. Lovely interview Sherry ~ Thank you for featuring poets far and wide ~

    Akila, how lovely to get to know more of you ~ I can smell the food from your place from here (my son is into Indian cooking) ~ Thank you for sharing your photos of your country and family (very sweet) ~ I can empathize on the time and juggling of family, job and writing because I am on the same boat ~ Cheers ~

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    1. Thank you Grace!

      so nice to have met you here. You can now have a taste of our cuisine sitting at home from your son! :) I am suee, you will love it.

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  4. Akila, I love what you shared and your lovely poem to your beautiful daughter~ :D

    I admire your passion and making the time for your voice. It is never easy to balance it all~

    Sherry thank you for sharing Akila with her-wonderful interview ladies!

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    1. Ella!

      thank you so much. wish for more than 24 hrs a day, somtimes, but then if wishes were horses...:)

      Glad to be sharing this platform with such wonderful poets here!

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  5. Really enjoyable. Great poem to your daughter - something she will always treasure.

    I love all the different pathways people have followed to come to poetry.

    Also makes me want to visit southern India now. Have seen a bit of the north.

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    1. Thank you Cosmo!

      do visit the country again and live the shades!

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  6. What a wonderful interview! I read 'The Economist' every week, and much recent content has been centered around India. This informative and revealing exchange adds a different dimension to my expanding awareness of the culture, economy and people. Thank you, Ladies!

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    1. Thank you Kim!

      your prompts have fanned my poems! :)

      Akila

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  7. I love interviews like this …That was a great interview! I enjoyed reading the questions as much as the answers!!! Thank you, Sherry, for bringing this interview to the table. … and for rekindling the interview flame once again–
    Thank you, Akila, for sharing your words, poems and wisdom and wit...and above all, thanks for showing us li'l Hansini...!! I remember the time when you were carrying her...and you wrote a beautiful poem on the baby growing inside you. Remember>??
    Been great getting to know you and hundreds of others around the world in virtual world. There is one thing about virtual relationships that I’ll always hold onto: Virtual relationships are only as strong as the in-person relationships that happen as a result.
    Thanks a lot for this enjoyable interview, Sherry and Akila! Hugz to the li'l one...:)

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    1. Panchali!!

      thank you so much Di! oh! i am so happy that you remember that piece, yep that was maiden attempt in hindi. Feel so happy to be part of this community!

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  8. P.U.: Yes, I do! Is there a poem you have written that you feel describes well who you are? Or is there a favourite poem you think you have written especially well?
    "
    Akila: All my poems have a bit of me, for I am largely shaped out of my own thoughts. So are all of us, mostly. Perhaps, the one written, for my dotty dear, shared above, for now, remains a poem close to my heart!"
    Above question and answer was so touching....the love mother,grand-mother, daughter all put in one sentance with pure honesty revealing that all poems have"ä bit of you"...how honestly expressed! Let us enjoy more and more of your poems Akila!

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    1. Mohan mama!

      It is true, isnt it? thank you so much...

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  9. Wow! Wifey dear!! While I have to confess, I do not understand poems, the one poem I did definitely understand and enjoy was the one you had penned for Hansi's first Birthday in Goa.

    I am so excited about your success and Happy for you! We will celebrate this week end.

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    1. It would be so formal to thank you here kartik....ll settle it during the weekend!:D

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  10. Akila dear,
    I join Kartik in saying that I do not understand poems. But certainly the interview is very refreshing because there is transparency, spontaneity and sincerity. I congratulate sherry for gearing it so well

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  11. wow Akila....so happy to go through the interview and knowing about you a little bit more.keep it up dear.always love to enjoy your writings.
    My love to Hansini.
    Namita

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  12. Hi Akila..Sunder was logged in and I wrongly posted the comments through his Id.his lappy was lying open and I instead of starting mine started working on his.when I realized the mistake I logged him off and now can't delete that comment as for that I need to know his password.OMG,,what a mess I created.pen down a funny poem from the situation.Well for now that'who cares' of above comment is me.
    sorry dear
    love
    namita

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  13. Did any one tell you that you have poetry in your eyes ?

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