In Conversation With Swatii Chandak, The Girl Who Creates Poetry Out Of Hardships

Swatii Chandak- The girl who carries the sun in her eyes when she walks through the dark, the one who really sees people for who they are, the one who believes in the power of literature than make-believe stories and also the one who relies on learning all through her life. She is the lady who wears her heart on sleeves, yet knows how to pull it back when stroked rudely.

Swatii Chandak is the renowned author of the book ‘Gradients’, which is a beautiful compilation of poems from the perspective of a woman. The book has acclaimed the first illustrative poetry book around the world. Apart from this, Swatii has also been awarded by prestigious literary magazines like ‘New Yorker’ and ‘India Se’. With a motivating story of zapping away a job from Google after completing her CA and MBA in order to pursue her passion for writing, she has become one tremendous inspiration.

The Social Lit has been in the conversation with this remarkable writer, who has the potential to put all her sorrows to shame and turn every hardship into an opportunity. Here’s a gist of the interview with Swatii Chandak:

The Social Lit: Define Poetry in one line.

Swatii: ‘It’s being puzzled!’ Poetic minds are puzzled. Poetry comes to me as the best experiment, the best experience and the best practice out there.

The Social Lit: How is poetry a sort of an experiment?

Swatii: When you try to juggle with the right word, you EVOLVE! In the search of every word, one tends to evolve with the whole thought process. As an example, when you tend to search a theme for the poetry but all of a sudden, you stumble upon an obstacle and your focus is moved. But, then you realize that this is the path you have been waiting for. So poetry surprises and this is how it is an experiment.

The Social Lit: Are you a feminist or humanitarian?

Swatii: Oh, I presumed that you’ll ask me this. Although, I have written all these poems with the perceptive of a woman, I wouldn’t  call myself a feminist. I don’t like categorization. Sometimes, I want to be myself and at other times someone else, so categorization is unfair.

The Social Lit: What are your views on the New-Age Authors?

Swatii: I can never bring myself to idolize the new-age authors. According to me, they have taught us just two things-

  1. Marketing
  2. Publicizing

There is no literature in their work, but just facts. I can’t believe nor can I write those fictitious love stories or say, pornography.

The Social Lit: How can one learn- by Imitating or getting inspired?

Swatii: Both are bad! In the real sense, imitation means – get inspired & motivated to follow that dream but not copy it. Nowadays, people tend to take imitating & inspiration as the methods of plagiarism. In the whole process of imitating, they subconsciously or consciously, not realize when they start to copy that art or a person. So, I would suggest always maintain your originality in the process of imitation.

The Social Lit: Well said! So, how did you discover that all this while, you have been a poet?

Swatii: As every genre has a little bit of fiction in it, this book (Gradients) is related to my life.

I am 26 and I am unmarried and single! I don’t need to point out the universally accepted fact that- In India, the girl of my age isn’t regarded as single but ‘Unmarried’.

People used to harass my parents and humiliate me in the process when pointing out the obvious truth.

‘Oh, she isn’t working. She is sitting idle. Why isn’t she married yet?’

Let me tell you that my parents have been very supportive of me. They turned a deaf ear to all these judgmental relatives and friends. But, till when you can shut your doors and windows to the society. They do find a way to creep in.

So, unfortunately I was arranged to meet 2 guys.

One claimed that I would be ‘allowed’ to do my work and go out once in every 15 days. The other days I need to be at home and be his dutiful housewife.

When I asked, ‘Will you not accompany me?’ To which he replied, ‘No, I would be at work. I really don’t care what you do!’

The only thing I liked about this guy was his brutal honesty. At least he came clear about his ideologies and didn’t hide them.

Poetry came when I was being brutalised and ‘tagged as unmarried’ by the society.

People used to say all kinds of things. That I am faking my degree & education. That I can’t write. But, I am so glad about all those rejections and criticisms because they were the only motivator all this while. They have made me adamant, pushed me to just do it and made the belief in myself, stronger.

The Social Lit:  Tell us about a poem which is really close to your heart.

Swatii: There is one poem called ‘Accolades‘. It goes like-

Women are trophies. All her life, everyone keeps her safely in a cupboard and showcase her with pride. They tell her things. Don’t wear this, it’s not safe. Don’t go out in night, it’s not safe. Don’t be too ambitious, it’s not safe. Just when she opens her wings to fly, we pull her back just to keep her safe from getting hurt. But, in the whole process of saving her, we are suffocating her. We clip the very wings which we gave her when we send her out in the world to learn.

So, this trophy in the poem is crying.

There is another poem ‘Gush’, where I have shown that there is a flawed flower amongst the perfect flowers which are being plucked. And that flawed flower, isn’t even being touched.

See, almost all my friends are married. And in the process, they are being plucked initially as they are perfect. And I am the flawed one as I suffered a kind of a disease all over my body, where there used to be a lot of black patches. In school, people used to stay away from me, saying they’ll catch the disease. As I am flawed & not being plucked, still I am shinning. And all those friends who were plucked long back, they have everything- their perfect kids, house and a family but still they are sad and complaining about not being able to pursue their dreams.

The Social Lit:  This sounds really inspiring! So what is suffering for you?

Swatii:  Suffering is knowledge for me. To suffer is when you fall. When you fall you have that eagerness to stand back again.

During the fall is when you realize your ultimate potential in you, that power to be limitless and that strength to stand back again.

When I was doing CA, I failed three times in my exam and everybody was sad. That’s suffering for me. I wanted to try again but things were getting worse for me on the personal level too. My father was examined with paralyses. There was a time when my true friends betrayed me. That time when I was at my weakest, made me realized how much strong I can be! I channelized all that aggression & creativity in my work. And now, I look back at that time not as something bad but a time which made me who I am!

The Social Lit:  What are your visions as a writer?

Swatii: Let me tell you an interesting thing. Three years back I wrote a letter to myself about all the things I would want to achieve in life and posted it. It came back to me with all that posted seal and gradually I succeeded in doing all those things. As a writer, I always aimed to win Bookers (The Man Bookers Prize). So, again I wrote a letter to myself that I have to work hard to get the bookers in the period of ten years. And I strongly believed that I’ll get it, so I did.

So, if one doubts himself or his dreams, ‘whether I would be able to achieve it?’- Then I guess, he’ll probably not achieve it. You have to be at least confident in yourself that you’ll get it. Don’t be over-confident or you’ll end up doing nothing.

The Social Lit:  What is your ideal love story?

Swatii: Oh I am glad that you asked me that (blushing & smiling). For me, love story isn’t that fancy drama. It’s not about being with each other every time.

Love is about giving that strength, about walking together in the time of suffering, about channelizing the aggression together, about being there as best friends.

Marry the person you respect the most and not whom you love the most.

When you respect a person, love is something which follows.

There are times, when we respect someone else, and love the other. Because naturally, that other someone whom you don’t respect that much fulfills your others things in the checklist– like good looks, charming personality and many other.

The Social Lit:  What do you look for in a marriage?

Swatii:  See, marriage for me is leaving my parents. So, I want a marriage where I don’t have to seek the permission to meet them. There should be freedom for me to live & breathe and still be married!

Swatii Chandak is an amazing woman who believes in equality of sexes and totally disregards the idea of categorization of people or things.

Buy Gradients By Swatii Chandak.

Watch Swatii Chandak’s poetic revelations:

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