Chennai: Twin sisters Layla and Tanya, starve in their upmarket apartment in New Delhi kicking off rage in the media. One half-dead and the other remains mum, living in a state of disrepair and chaos. A claustrophobic story with a complex sequence of happenings, of two women confronting the everyday realities of their city and country, Vandana Singh Lal’s fiction So All is Peace provides insights into love, lust, fear, grief and the decisions we make.
News Today speaks to her to find out about the author’s first novel and more.
Asked about the theme, Vandana says, “The issues that the book grapples with is much larger and much more omnipresent. Every interaction that a woman has is nuanced in a way that men’s actions are not. When a woman has an unfortunate encounter of any kind – be it a robbery or harassment – one of the first questions that is asked is why was she even present there late in the night, that far, in that place. These questions are never asked of a man. Why is the world different for a woman? As a thinking woman, as a thinking person, the theme chose me.”
Before setting on to penning the book, Vandana did a lot of research on starvation – the science and philosophy. “But beyond the science, good fiction writing, I think involves reading, hearing, observing, and allowing everything to churn inside you. At least that is all I did,” she adds.
Vandana took the title of her book from Edward Lear’s verse – “I was much distressed by next door people who had twin babies and played the violin; but one of the twins died, and the other has eaten the fiddle – so all is peace.”
Narrating about how the book kept her focused and immersed, she states, “The aspect that I found very challenging was that fiction writing requires deep immersion – the characters stay with you all the time. Even when you are not actually writing, you cannot get rid of them. So, the good part about all this is that you are never lonely. But the bad part is that you are never fully present in any situation; a part of you is always taken over by these people who nobody else but you can see, and about whom you can never speak without sounding completely kooky.”
She traveled with the characters for four years and completed the first draft of So All is Peace a year ago.
Being an environmentalist, her profession gave her the upper hand to see patterns in disparate things. “Nothing in nature exists in isolation. Everything is connected to everything in some way or the other – so it helped me see the bigger picture. Also everywhere in my book, the characters are aware of the environment around them. The city of Delhi is almost as much of a character as Layla and Tanya or Raman,” Vandana concludes.