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Interview – Rajiv Mittal (Brahmahatya)

Rajiv Mittal, born in Chennai, India in the early nineteen sixties is an alumnus of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, and a CPA from Australia. He now lives in Melbourne after a stint of several years in the Middle East. On an on-going basis, he plans to reveal more of his thoughts on his Facebook author page, and he would be happy if you track his evolution as a person and writer there.

In general, he is a cynical realist who always assumes the worst of people and situations and is therefore sometimes pleasantly surprised but never disappointed.

Writing for him was a vague aspiration. It became a reality thanks to a stranger who said he reminded him of the main character from Desiderata by Max Ehrmann. He quoted from it, ‘Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.’

Q: How did writing happen?

A: There were 2 Eureka moments.

Eureka realization 1: While I am writing, unlike in real life, I am in complete control of my imagined world. It is a very heady feeling, almost addictive … like a drug.

Eureka realization 2: However horrible I feel whenever I write something, it is always a pleasure reading it back. And as part of the editing and review process, I always have to read back more often than I write.

Disclaimer: No, I have never jumped out the bath and run out naked, on the streets shouting ‘Eureka, Eureka’. At least, not yet.

Q: What inspires you to write?

A: First of all, I would like to mention what inspired me to write Brahmahatya. This is the link. Those who click on it will find a photograph and a short story which should explain a lot.

What inspires me to write now? Nothing specific. I no longer have a day job which logically should inspire me to write a lot more? Sadly, however, it is not the case. Now, I am becoming very clever in procrastinating. I have to understand why – maybe later.

Q: What made you chose such an offbeat topic, I mean most of us wouldn’t even know there could be a plot around just the word “Brahmahatya”?

A: I would visit my father in his retirement home during his final days. Seeing all the residents, I would wonder – what are their stories? And are they all really who they say they are.

Some incidents in the book happened in real life. I don’t want to go into the details. Also, spending time at a retirement home made me question a lot of things about life. And the story evolved.

Strange to say, but once I started writing it, the book took on a life of its own. It sounds clichéd but it is a fact. It was almost as if the book got its own aatma and I became another character in its life journey – the character of the author.

Q: Your book is a beautiful presentation of human emotion – Ravi’s character is black for his father before death (he never cared too much) and white after (so much care that he planned to harm his supposed murderer). What made you make him so?

A: First of all, thank you for your kind words. Anuradha, let me also add, thank you for your review of the book. Some of your insights were eye-openers to me into Ravi’s character.

Now specifically answering your question, I believe that generally, the death of a close person results in feelings of guilt (I wish I had done more) and anger at self (but it is too late now). Was Ravi motivated by guilt also? Bhavna points it out to him later and his reaction seems to suggest that she was not too much off the mark. This is my opinion but it is not important because I am just another reader like everybody else (even though I am also the narrator). It does not matter what you or I think, what matters is what Ravi thought to himself. The readers of the book have to individually take that call.

Q: Have you yourself felt the kind of hatred Ravi felt towards Dr. Chari yourself? What did you do?

A: As I mentioned before, some events in the book actually happened. The rejection of the father by Dr. Chari, that the whole episode has elements of truth. Did I feel a similar kind of hatred? Yes, I did. But thankfully, there was a happier ending in reality. If not, would I have done what Ravi did? The honest answer, I don’t know.

Q: How was your journey from the first draft to published work?

A: Till I self-published, this is the message I received from the publishing world:

Q: An author whom you idolize, and why?

A: You mean apart from myself? I idolize, as a person, my author brother V. Sanjay Kumar. The reasons are personal. I do not want to share because what I want to communicate in terms of emotions and feelings, I have done / will do in my books.

Q: What is the next project you are working on?

A: It is the first time that I am publicly announcing it. I have named the book The Kaawad Scrivener. The novel grapples with attitudes and feelings, across generations and at various stages of a person’s life. Beneath the surface, this book is really about storytelling – the stories that are passed on from one generation to another, one person to another, secret stories we tell ourselves, stories from different points of view, and the way that we use stories to underpin our lives and decisions.

Will it finally appear in the public domain? That would depend on its karma, wouldn’t it?

Q: A message for all those who have aged parents.

A: Don’t let your parents feel like this:

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