Former IITian Preeti Bhonsle speaks to desijam.in about her first published book, ’27 Broken Footprints’; issues that she has touched upon in the book, the struggles to get it published and much more..
DJM: What does the name of the book, 27 Broken Footprints, mean? How did you narrow down on the name?
Preeti: The name wasn’t my first choice for this book. In fact when I started pushing it around for publication, it was called – Many tales of my learning the curves. Thereafter it was called – the Dark Engineer. Finally after some discussions with an artist friend (and a lot of insisting by my publisher) we zeroed in on the name 27 Broken Footprints. It is called so for a reason. I am not giving that reason away. Not so soon. Some people think it’s a collection of 27 stories. That is funny, because I am not that literal. I think few people will be able to figure out why the “27” and why the “broken”. I am really hoping some would.
DJM: Did you always want to be an author? There have been quite a number of engineers who took to writing? But how did you manage to make the shift between these two fundamentally diverse occupations? What is your story?
Preeti: I have been writing for a very long time. Did I always want to be an author? No. But I was always writing. There has been no shifting so to speak. I love what both the fields have to offer and I love what I do in each one of them.
DJM: Is this your first book? If yes, what inspired you to write the book?
Preeti: This will be my first published work, but this is not my first book. I wish I had an interesting story here but there was no specific trigger for 27 Broken Footprints. A lot of influences, discussions, experiences went into the making of the different parts of this book. Some of the triggers are from my life at IIT, my short stint as a developer at HT Media, my very unstable career path; some other triggers are from the different people I have met, grown up with and the like—basically the usual things that push each one of us.
DJM: How many hours in a day did you dedicate to writing the book? Tell us about your journey from writing the book to getting it published?
Preeti: I dedicated many hours for writing this book. The journey from writing to getting published has been quite exhausting. It is crazy out there with all the competition and the commercialisation. It makes sense, that publishing houses would like to invest in only works that guarantee them returns but what really hurt me was the ironical fact that every publisher is looking for something different and new but no one is actually willing to take the risk to print the same.Also, the entire publishing process is money intensive and contact driven. After many rejections, I was fortunate enough to meet my publisher. But that was just the beginning; it has been very exhausting with the cover design, the editing, the typesetting, the reading, the re-reading. Getting your book into print is just the beginning. Getting it on every reader’s book-shelf is where the real challenge lies.
DJM: Could you throw light on some of the issues you have written about in this book?
Preeti: ‘27 Broken Footprints’ is a narrative weaved around recent popular events, dissecting and exploring pressing contemporary issues while raising a few questions – some old, some new –for instance, is the vigilante form of justice an answer to today’s rapes in India? Where have all our heroes gone? Can a girl from IIT ever be a real woman? Can one really get over the hurt of their first failed love? Can the darkness of misery lead one to kill? How much does one really pay for fame – acquired and lost? And is forgetting the only way to stay truly happy? So I have written about women; on issues that lead men to rape women. I have written about education in India, about the families in India, and the health of Indians. I have also spoken about loss of virtues in our times, depression among the working classes, and existential crisis among today’s youth. In addition to this, to keep things a little light, I have also written about love and friendship.
DJM: So, most of the issues that you’ve written about are what everyone encounters in their daily life? Is this book, in a way, a reflection of some of the episodes of your own life?
Preeti: This book is a reflection of all the things I have seen around me and the people I have met.
DJM: According to you, how are these issues—the ones you’ve chosen to explore in your book—dealt with in reality?
Preeti: I think that we as a society deal with certain issues in an extremely inhuman way. Rape victims are shamed, they lead their lives with a baseless guilt, kids are pressured to perform well, and everyone wants their children to get into a good college and the ones who don’t make it but were a part of the grind, feel bad.
In our society, there is a clear correlation between your achievements and your self-esteem. While that is not a bad thing, I think undue attention is given to only certain kinds of achievements. It becomes our collective responsibility as a society to improve the quality of our lives, to form stronger support systems for the abused, the mistreated, the oppressed, and the misunderstood.
DJM: What are your aspirations with this book? How has the audience received it so far?
Preeti: It has had a wonderful response. It was formally launched two days ago and over 300 copies have been already shipped. I would want more and more people to read this book.
DJM: What is your message to the young budding writers like you?
Preeti: The entire ordeal of writing, editing, and finally publishing might get tiresome sometimes. It is quite painful, I know, but be brave and stick through it all because in the end, the creation is nothing short of being spectacular.
DJM: Also, any plans of writing another book in the future?
Preeti: Of course yes. In fact, I have already started working on it.