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Excerpts from Zohra Margaret Chaube's Interview

Updated: Mar 21

Q. What, according to you, is the main purpose of story-telling?

Ans. An inner urge towards anything that one becomes sensitive to, something that one sees in the world, something that touches one's emotions to the extent that one feels the need to share it, can be converted into a story. That story can then be told in a classroom, at bed-time for young ones, or, best of all, if published, to be read in a book! Anything which has touched or affected one in the outer world, and which others too could appreciate, or learn from, can be brought forth and shared. Such a result leaves the writer with a huge sense of satisfaction.

Q. You describe love in a very different way. Do you think love knows no boundaries?

Ans. Genuine love is not something that you force. It is something that comes out of you. It is an inner reaction to a person, a saint, an animal, or anywhere one feels a bonding with, and an attraction to. A sensitive person spots and reacts to a situation where a lack of humane kindness or feeling is lacking; where one spots loneliness, and where one is starved, not just from the lack of food, but for the need to feel wanted. Isolation is not a nice situation to be in. We live in a world full of people, and other creatures, and love plays a very important part in making life a place to belong to; which means to be loved.

Love finds expression in many ways, one of which can be through a story. The need is recognized by the storyteller, and is absorbed into a realm of identification by the listener. This brings on mutual satisfaction, bonding, and peace!

There are no boundaries in love, and it is certainly not limited by age, or by any form of crippling handicaps - mental, physical, emotional, and, most importantly, spiritual. Love is a reaction to an emotion you feel, a warmth towards another creation. It is something natural, something which comes up from within, and is, very often, uncontrollable! It cannot be forced; it cannot be artificial. It is a real response.

Q. Still we see that the situation of women is not good in rural and semi-rural areas in India. Do you also see the same?

Ans. If by this you mean there is a lack of love, in rural areas, or amongst the less privileged, I would say, there is a hesitation, rather than a lack, within our own Indian cultures, rich or poor, urban or rural, for open expressions, or demonstrations, of love. There is no denying that fact for this is the way we are brought up. It is not just any sort or class of people. Amongst the richest of the rich and poorest of the poor, you find very often, women undergoing abuse and ill-treatment which they put up with and accept as a form of attachment. Love lurks somewhere underneath, they often feel. They have been undergoing repression for generations together, and have become used to occupying a lower kind of pedestal. A lack of respect exists, and in fact, in many cultures they themselves acknowledge the female gender is a kind of lower species! In many societies, they do not get an equal share, nor the respect they deserve. This is an issue which has been prevalent and is still prevalent. Yet, many such women are treasure houses of stories, folk lore, music and dances, to focus back to the main reason for this interview. Possibly such recognition brings them joy, and a certain form of respect, certainly from their children, and a slight, unexpressed form of love from their husbands, in-laws, and other family members.

Q. Perhaps, only a very few Indian women are active, even in this stage of life, to be so full of recognizing the gift of life. What inspired you to become a writer?

Ans. I am actually not in any way qualified to be a writer! So I repeat that anything that I feel about, I share, and express through my writings, and so, through words. I have always loved to write. From compositions in school, and essays later on, I have to get my ideas, thoughts and dreams out, and so I write. Procrastinating, or leaving them as thoughts and dreams would leave me with an empty feeling; a feeling of regret! So I put them down, even in the middle of the night, so that they are not gone when I open my eyes in the morning. I find it's a wonderful way to express you what your feelings are. It is not to be qualified as a writer but to be someone who expresses, and, anyone who can dream and anyone who can write if they are sufficiently convinced about the issue and wish to share it, must do it. I do not worry if I'm not appreciated, nor my works considered out-dated. I share what I feel, and would advise everyone who has an idea, a desire to put it down, as a story, or autobiography, or whatever, just do it, so later there are no regrets of saying, Oh, I should have, or why didn't I, and so on. Actually, writing is something that comes, it's a gift and it is your duty to express as and how you can; qualified or not.

So, many people don't get their dreams fulfilled and because they end before they begin.

Q. You have a wide range of interests. How do you balance them all?

Ans. Again, it's a matter of time. You know when an urge arises for a particular interest, like if I'm writing and have either finished or need a break, I can easily switch to painting because I love to do oil painting, and switch to doing that.

I make an agenda for the next day, as one day is finished, ensuring that whatever I enjoy doing has got a little time. So, I try to categorize my interests' according to the urgency or importance and also because it is an interest of mine to give it that time. It may be an agenda also for the day after, for the fatigue factor, physically, has to be considered. I do try to follow up without delay.

Q. You have written the stories for children of different age groups and with different subjects. Did you have something specific in your mind while penning down these stories?

Ans. As tots grow to become teenagers, one has to grow with them. So, the content of the stories has to develop and accommodate their growing knowledge and experiences.

Use of simple words develops as their language usage and vocabulary increases, "baby talk" changes to more "grown up" talk. I've been a teacher from nursery education to post-graduate levels, so had to learn and mature as the children did. At present I'm attempting to finish THE IN-BETWEEN YEARS - a book containing twenty stories of daily experiences of teenagers in the old world, and in the very new times they are facing now!

Thank you!

Zohra Margaret Chaube, an octogenarian writer, was a well learned and widely travelled homemaker. She chose to settle down in the South of India, and took to writing to share her experiences and feelings of her life in the form of fiction and poetry. Her bond with her grand-children made her took to writing stories for children.

Unfortunately, She lost her life to Covid in 2021...

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