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Priya Tripathi is not afraid to call it like she sees it – whether that is questioning redundant religious traditions and rituals, or inequality in women’s personal relationships with others.
Every month, we recognise three stellar authors from our community – who shine a light on things we need to talk about, and do it in a way that makes us thing, laugh or act. In July 2017, one of our 3 Authors of the Month, is Priya Tripathi. Priya refuses to let life cow her down, and has instead used it as a springboard to create change. As she says in her bio, “(Priya Tripathi) believes her upbringing in small town in a highly patriarchal set up has been a blessing in disguise. It helped her to develop perspective on the issues and to make best use of the opportunities she got later in life.”
You can read her writing at Women’s Web here.
Authors are often asked this question, but everyone has their own reasons, very personal to them. So, why do you write?
Writing is my catharsis. Since childhood, in the midst of a crowd, I would often feel very lonely. I always kept a small notepad with me where I would scribble things. I appeared an introvert but there was always this gush of emotions inside that needed a vent. I think I found that vent in writing. I also realise that it is always not possible to have deep and intense conversation with people in your vicinity. In those moments of loneliness, when I write my thoughts, I write with a hope that it will probably strike a chord with a reader who is thinking a thought equally intense.
When and how did you first begin writing?
I first wrote my journal at the age of 7 and it felt really good. Not that I remained consistent with maintaining it but it made me realise the happiness of having that untainted conversation with myself. I remember when I had a first crush at the age of fourteen, I finished a good two hundred pages writing about my feelings. When I broke up for the first time, I sat infront of my laptop and typed some 10,000 words on my laptop with tears and words incessantly pouring. When I again fell in love, I wrote like this insane person having a monologue and when I finished my first half marathon, I wrote again out of ecstasy and words in my diary ran faster than I finished the half marathon.
After few years, when I read these entries again, I realised maybe I should write and publish. So, I started with a personal blog back in 2009. However, I took it up quite seriously in August 2016 when Women’s Web published my first article and it got some 7000 views. That was very encouraging. So during my business trips, I would spend all my time in writing article. I think in some 3-4 months I wrote some six articles. When readers voted for me for ‘The Orange Flower Award for Social Impact’, I was overwhelmed. I think there is no looking back since then.
Do you have a muse?
Yes. My grandfather. He was an extremely private person who was confined to a room full of books. Nobody was allowed to enter that room. I was 9 when he passed away and I first touched his books and journals. It has been 22 years since then. I still have his books and writings from the 1950s and 1960s. I think I derive a lot of inspiration from those tattered old pages of the books and personal account of the life of a person. It takes me into a different era and understanding of perspectives. It also reminds me of the importance of documenting one’s ideas and feelings so that people across different generations remain connected.
Where do you get your ideas from?
I get ideas from my own feelings. I believe in being in completely in tune with my feelings. If something makes me cry incessantly, I make sure I write. Surprisingly, I have written my most popular and personal favourite articles when my feelings have been deeply hurt. Feelings can be evoked by a human, animal, an incidence or a hobby which I enjoy. For instance, I have been running for five years now. Everytime, I finish a long-distance run, I am overwhelmed with emotions. I make sure I write.
Coming from a women-dominated household in a patriarchal set up, I am naturally more tuned to feel about issues related to women. I would have long hours of conversation with my mother, sisters and my friend Atiya on the way society has been unfair to women. We all have stories to tell. When women tell their narratives honestly, an innovative idea emerges. After all history has been ‘his story’. I wish to make it ‘her story.’ At a sub-conscious level, these conversations inspires me deeply every day. I strictly avoid non-integral conversations and people as their story is also a false one.
I also discuss a lot with my partner on male privileges men get in a patriarchal society and the kind of toxic masculinity it promotes. That helps me in understanding the drawbacks of patriarchy also from the perspective of a man. Since a young age, I confronted many elderly patriarchal men in my family on the male privileges they enjoyed. Those heated debates have definitely helped me in evolving as person. I am sure it has helped them too. A lot of it has influenced what I write.
I am also a die-hard fan of German Philosopher Herman Hesse. I think reading him makes me express my feelings objectively.
When it comes to writing on/for/about women, what questions and issues drive you the most?
When I see a basic human right being seen from a gender stereotype lens in the garb of culture, it disturbs me. It could be limited accessibility to public spaces by women, division of labour at a household level in a marriage and women not aspiring to be at the top in their professional lives. I get frustrated but charged up to question it through my writings when people try to normalize these gender stereotypes. My words are my weapon.
The helplessness which is artificially created in the lives of women makes me question these issues. I also believe that it is important to shake the cultural inertia due to which many women do not explore their full potential. There is a lot of unlearning to be done before you understand feminism. For me it has been hit and trial.
Recently, the suicide of Manjula Devak, IIT Delhi PhD Scholar made me feel so sick. A friend once casually remarked that her parents can fund her brother’s education abroad but not hers because they have to pay dowry also in her wedding. It disturbed me. The cold blooded murder of bold women like Pallavi Purkayastha and Monica Khurde also made me feel deeply perturbed.
Anything you’d like to tell others who would want to write?
Please do not think of who will read you. The ones who want to read you will find you. For me, pouring my emotions into anything I do has made me do it the best. The same is true for writing too.