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Lokvani Talks To Hindi Writer Shivani Gaura Pant

Nirmala Garimella

The word 'Kumaon’ for most people conjures up images of terraced hills, lush forests of pine trees, sal,deodar,rhodendron,chestnut and oak and of course classic tiger country and breath taking views of the snow capped Himalayas. The physical beauty of the land’s geography alone approaches the mythical: mountainous lake regions, the Great forests, rugged coastline, and vast potato fields. Those who have visited know that the region lies in the east of Uttarnchal down the valley of the great river Ramganga. Life moves a little more slowly, and the savoring of it is a little more important. It is easy to understand why a writer would feel drawn to this place. One such popular writer hails from this region – Shivani Gaura Pant whose writing reflects a lot of culture and literature of the region.

A prolific writer of novels and short stories in Hindi , Shivani’s fans will recall one of her most popular novel, Krishnakali and other stories. Other well known works include Atithi, Pootovali, Ek thi Ramreti ,Manik, Surangma, Mayapuri, Aparadhini and a host of others that enticed and entertained readers for decades. In Hey Dattatreya - Folk culture and Literature of Kumaon introduces us to the region.In one of her earlier books, Amader Shantiniketan she recounts on the great times that she spent at the institution and her meeting with Rabindranath Tagore. She devoted another title Yatrik to her trip to London and the wedding of her son. In Shivani Ke Shryaas Kahaniyan she strikes a autobiographical note and Chareivati is an enchanting travelogue of her trip to Russia and the literary celebrities that she met at the time.

Born in 1923 in Saurashtra, Shivani Pant is still writing and her latest literary comments are on the lives of Americans and their attitude toward life. This came about on her recent visit to Boston to stay with her son Muktesh Pant and his family. Her two daughters Ira Pande and Mrinal Pande are also established writers. At the time of this interview, she had just shot off an article to the Hindi edition of Hindustan Times on this subject. In a telephonic interview with Lokvani, I asked her to elaborate on her latest writing, the future of Hindi and her present day activities

On the future of Hindi

I think it is very bright. As long as it is made easy to understand, people will want to learn it. This is the biggest treasure of Hindi. If you ask me, you should learn as many languages as you can. It strengthens the language. For instance, Urdu is a beautiful language. I went to Hyderabad once where they felicitated me at the University and I spoke in Hindi. Someone asked me if I could speak in English and I said “ How can I ? I am a Hindi writer and I assure you that I will speak in simple Hindi as much as I can”. Later, one gentleman came up to me and said “ even though I don’t know Hindi, I heard the music of your language just by listening to you. So you see, it is the same with Tamil, Telugu etc. Telugu Literature, as you know has so much Sanskrit in it. They are all enriched.

On her everyday routine

I live in Lucknow. Around 6.30 every morning, I go for a walk, then sit down to read my paper and have my cup of tea. I make my lunch and then I sit and write. There is no specific time. I don’t use the computer. I don’t dictate. I make drafts and write, but once I begin I make sure I finish. There is a wonderful library and I spend a lot of time here. Earlier, I was actively involved in a lot of activities. I was in the Audition board of AIR, the Railway Board and all that. I have traveled extensively too. I take it easy now. Now my life revolves round doing things here in Lucknow. I have recently adopted two girls whose education I take care of and they give me company. I am busy and happy. My four children are all well established and it is all because, she says in Hindi, “Saraswati Ka Vardaan”. I have 6 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren and I feel very blessed.

On the American way of life

I like coming here, but only for a visit. I like to go back to Lucknow. America is a land of plenty and people here are affluent and the attitude is ‘live life to the best’. People don’t worry so much about the future. Indian values are totally different. It teaches us that you leave everything behind. In India, I think there is still perseverance ,hard work and honesty and as long as we don’t imitate the wrong things, we will do well for ourselves. I was reading a book on Patanjali’s Yoga recently and it talked on how the West is constantly seeking spiritual enlightenment from the east. I am sure that our ‘Samskriti’ will survive for generations.

Acclaimed as one of the foremost writers of Hindi fiction, Shivani Pant’s latest novel ‘Sone De’ has delighted faithful readers and fans. Her gift of story telling is strong and well and living in this latest novel that Shivani says was inspired by the lines on a gravestone of a famous 15th century Urdu poet.

Thak Gaya Hoon Neend Aa Rahi Hai Sone De
Bahut Hein Zindagi Mene Diya Hai Saath Tere

Roughly Translated in English
(I am tired, sleep overtakes me, let me rest
I have been long enough with you in the journey of life)

Shivani Pant has written more than forty works of Fiction in Hindi and they can be ordered online from www.indiaclub.com

Lokvani thanks Pushp Kumar and Vinita Pant for this interview.

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Shivani with granddaughter Sara

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