Harshali Singh - A Paradox of Dreams
It is said that a woman's work is never completely finished; no matter how hard she slogs, there's always something waiting to be done.
Harshali Singh had a successful career in the education sector as an administrator and a principal. She is currently a member of the District Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission, an occupational therapist and a painter -- and has just published the third volume of an eight-part series that chronicles the life of the family that resides in a haveli of a 100 doors in Old Delhi, each book meticulously researched, because she believes that her credibility lies in creating trust with her readers.
"Everyone writes for different reasons. I write because it allows me to question, start a dialogue, and evoke a response. Hence, I knew from the beginning that my books and stories needed to be from an authentic place. The fact that I got published, my characters were accepted, liked and found relatable was a blessing," Singh told IANS in an interview.
"When I started writing, I thought I would write a book on family, relationships and love. But I think as women, we absorb and observe so many little cuts along our journeys that we tend to question these lacunae that still exist in our society. Especially when it comes to what is allowed and disallowed because you are a woman."
"As I interact with more and more women, I sense a deep sense of dissatisfaction that reflects in the choices they make. The question troubled me enough to fuel my writing journey," Singh elaborated.
Thus, in the series, the lives of the members of the Sharma family are inexplicably intertwined with the haveli as it watches over them, absorbing their angst and reflecting their happiness as it articulates their lives through the stories.
It attempts to portray relationships within a family with realism and essentially deals with urban, adult and subtle relationships, depicting the world we inhabit.
The first book, "A Window to her Dreams" is the story of Aruna, the first daughter of the Sharma family. The second book, "Anatomy of Choice" is about Bhavya, the second daughter. The third book, "A Paradox of Dreams" is about the third daughter, Dharu.
"I am hopeful that Dheeraj's story, the only brother of the six sisters, will be released before this year ends. The stories are character and plot-driven exploring complex relationships in keeping with my style of writing," Singh explained.
Every story has a social premise that she wanted to explore.
"A Window to her Dreams" examined the impact of marital violence and rape on women.
"Mature love, conditioning and gender roles were also prominent in my mind while writing the story," Singh added.
"Anatomy of Choice" questioned taboo choices and whether women are free to make them, "but more importantly, are they equipped to handle the consequences of these choices," the author said.
"A Paradox of Dreams" is a journey or a quest within oneself and how childhood trauma and insecurity manifests to shape our personality.
It was a chance visit to a haveli that exists even today in the by-lanes of Old Delhi's Chandni Chowk that became the inspiration to write the story of its newest residents -- Arun Sharma, his wife Uma, and their seven children, Aruna, Bhavya, Charu, Dheeraj, Etti, Fanny, and Gina.
An omnipresent character in the lives of the Sharma family, the haveli becomes the 'sutradhar', the narrator in the books, the one who commands love, respect and has a strange connection with the lady of the manor, Uma. The silent sentinel stands beside the family as they go through life and its peaks and valleys.
"The stories are all fictional but inspired by real-life stories. The characters have elements of people I interact with who have either moved me or repelled me intrinsically," Singh said.
"Fiction means more than making up a story. Research is paramount if I want to write a book with which a reader can connect. Details, logic and technical and historical aspects must be correct for the story to be believable. Readers are astute and immediately know that the author has done a slipshod job and does not know their subject."
"My credibility as an author hinges on creating trust with my reader, which I know will dissolve in a hurry if I commit an error. So research is the backbone or foundation of my books -- from books to interviews, my own experiences and observations, research papers online and everything I can lay my hands on until I am satisfied that I am now equipped to begin writing the book," Singh elaborated.
The reason for this "is that I know that maybe only 10 per cent of all the research shall make it into the book, but the readers should not doubt the words they are reading," she added.
Singh has also seen a fair amount of awards come her way.
She was recently conferred the 'Global Progressive Women Award 2022' by Aesthetics International at its 4th International Leadership Summit. She won the Write India Award, Season 2, India's largest crowd-sourced short story contest conducted by the Times of India group and was recently invited to speak at the maiden Literature Fest organised by the Indian Navy at INS Valsura in Jamnagar as part of the 75th anniversary celebrations of India's Independence.
May she grow from strength to strength!