By Sujata Shiven | PUBLISHED: 18, Dec 2010, 16:07 pm IST | UPDATED: 28, Dec 2012, 11:20 am IST
A professor by profession and a writer by choice, Pratibha Ray undoubtedly is a household name in Orissa and in most parts of India through her translated works. She is one of the leading fiction writers in India today. It has been a long journey for Pratibha from the lanes of her village to the secure place she enjoys in the hearts of her avid readers.
As a committed academician she was involved in active research. Her boldness and courage to work with the savage and aggressive Bonda tribe was commendable at a time when even a male researcher shied away from working with them. Pratibha’s voice is a self-searching one, in the quest of one’s true identity. In her works, the woman is redefining her new role and determining its parameters to herself and to the society, in every walk of life and perhaps revolutionizing the concept of womanhood itself.
Here an interection with Ray for FnF by Sujata Shiven :
Q. What are you working on presently and what is it about?
Ans. I am working on a novel with a broader canvas but what it is about, may I please be allowed to keep it a secret? I always keep it a secret till I give the final touch to the work and my readers patiently allow me to take my own time.
Q. Who is your favorite contemporary writer? Other than Oriya which Indian language literature inspires you?
Ans. There are many in Indian languages and my most favourite contemporary writer is Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the writer of “100 years of solitude”.
Q. Have you achieved the ultimate in life when we go back tracing your achievements?
Ans. In my opinion there is no summit of achievement. It is a never-ending journey.Sometimes I feel that I am a beginner.
Q. If not a writer and academic what else would you have been? Who have been your inspirations?
Ans. I would have been a physician if not academic but along with that I would have been a writer. Academics was my profession but writing is my passion. I nourished a dream to be a writer even when I did not know what a writer means to be. Love and let live is my motto. Love is my inspiration throughout. I fell in love with nature and I wrote my first poem when I was eleven. You have to be a lover to be a writer. Love leads to compassion and compassion leads to expression.
Q. What do you prioritize in life as of now?
Ans. My children which include my novels and stories too.
Q. Do you think that you will be able to bring about change in the society that you are working for and writing on?
Ans. Social change does not occur overnight. Like me every writer dreams to see a better world, more human, based on love and peace.
Q. What are your views on the present menace of Naxalism gripping some states and the role of the state?
Ans. Whatever or whoever may be, violence and human slaughter is not the solution. The present Naxalism problem needs serious thinking and should not be dealt with superficially.
Q. After marriage you have given a break to your writings, what was the reason?
Ans. Three children within three years of marriage along with a teaching job left no time for me to sit down and write. But a more serious reason was a culture shock. A woman can only understand the pain of adapting to a new situation. I came to an orthodox joint family from an advanced nuclear family. Creativity had no place in the life of a daughter-in-law in my in-laws family. Hence, it took some time to overcome the problem with the inspiration of my father.
Q. Tell us about the support from your family after marriage?
Ans. When I came out of the joint family and we lived with our three children, I was mainly managing the children along with my job. My husband and I were mostly posted in different places. For me that was not a problem. I was mostly writing in the late hours of the night after putting my children to sleep and preparing my class work. I normally write till 2-3 a.m., if my mood allows me to write. I never get tired if the mood is there.
When we were posted together I was writing without disturbing the family chore. If you manage your different roles then the family is expected to support the women to promote for creativity. But in many Indian families it does not happen. My family supports me now in all respects. But the duty of a woman in the family comes first. There is a great difference between a male and female writer in this respect. Otherwise, writing in my opinion is beyond gender and geography.
Q. Any Dream Project?
Ans. Endless dreams and dream projects.