Azra Mufti, a young talented and soft spoken girl hailing from Baramulla, is an author & novelist. She recently came up with her debut novel “Tearful Pages” that highlights gender-based issues in society. The book covers a wide range of stories that deal with domestic violence, female feticide, war crimes & cyber bullying. It is more about the women living in the present world and the problems they face. Reaching out to Kashmiri girls, Azra says that they should never compromise on dignity. Girls are full of power and nobody will serve it to them, they have to take it and lead. In an Exclusive Interview with Mansoor Parey, Azra talks much more about her debut novel and her further plans.
Tell us about yourself educational background and the place you were born?
I was born and brought up in District Baramulla. I did my schooling from Saint Joseph’s School Baramulla. After that I went to Chandigarh for my higher studies. I completed my Bachelors and Masters in Business Administration from SVIET Chandigarh. I worked as an Assistant Professor in some institutions .Presently I am working as a research scholar in Department of Business Studies, Baba Ghulam Shah Badshah University Rajouri.
How did the idea of writing a book struck in your mind?
It was not a conscious choice or a decision; I started writing at a very young age. Initially I used to write columns for different newspapers. My father encouraged me to write on different topics and I kept on writing columns on weekly basis. In 2013, my family and friends suggested me to give shape to my thoughts in the form of a book. I had no idea what to write about, but somehow I thought of expressing my hidden feelings in the form of “Tearful Pages”.
What types of Columns did you write and for which newspaper?
I started writing columns in year 2009. Earlier I used to write letters for Greater Kashmir. Then I started writing columns for Rising Kashmir, Kashmir Observer, Kashmir Watch and Kashmir Pen. I have contributed some write ups for “The Hans India” which happens to be a publication of Andhra Pradesh. I never focused on one topic or any particular area, I used to write for a variety of issues including social, political, economical and financial.
What brought you to write this book?
When I finally made up my mind for writing a book, I was caught in a dilemma, whether to write fiction or fact. My father came up with a beautiful suggestion saying “truth is revealed in the garb of fiction”. It motivated me to write about the ugly truths in the form of fiction. Then again, selection of area was a challenging task. I consulted some of my colleagues and scribes who suggested me to write something about gender violence. Personally, I witnessed some incidents which served as a foundation for writing this book.
How did you come up with the idea for Tearful pages?
I strongly believe in emancipation of women in real sense, not what the movies and west teaches us. The mushrooming crimes and exploitation of women at different fronts triggered me to write about such delicate issues. We have ample literature on feminism with explosive contents but I wanted to write something that we can relate to our everyday lives. The discrimination a woman suffers at some point of her life had to be written in lucid yet powerful way thus I came up with the idea of “tearful pages”.
Do you have related your stories with the problems faced by Kashmiri women?
Some of the stories in the book do have Kashmiri female protagonists, but the stories do not specifically touch the problems faced due to conflict or forced occupation. The stories are very general and highlight the stereotype and male chauvinism whose brunt a woman has to face.
Do you believe women do have their own problems what kind of problems do they face?
Yes, definitely, women do have myriad of problems and handicaps of their own, but these handicaps are an outcome of our own perception and mindset. If we stay silent about the crimes and atrocities done on us for fear of stigma, it is a problem. If we emotionally depend on someone, it is a problem. A woman has to learn to be emotionally and financially strong and there is no harm in it. Hazrat Khadija(ra) is a perfect example. We should know our worth and carve a niche for ourselves in society rather than binging on problems.
Being a girl, did you face some challenges or obstacles to achieve this feat?
I consider myself very lucky to have a father par excellence. My father is a columnist and he used to write columns during his college days. He is an avid reader and I inherited this thing from him. He always encouraged me to write honestly. I believe if you truly want to achieve something, you have to put your heart and soul into it. Having a back up or not doesn’t really matter but yes it gives a certain direction to your journey. In my case, I was blessed enough to have my mentor in my father.
How has been the response from readers since it was released?
Alhamdulillah, I am getting very positive feedback from readers. They liked my narration and the choice of words. I am thankful to everyone who liked my work.
Writers write for many reasons, what did you write for?
Writing to me is a form of therapy. Whenever I feel inundated with emotions, I write. The reasons can be many but for me I want to make a difference through my writings by bringing forth the various issues that need introspection.
What are your future plans?
I want to earn my doctorate first also I am working on my second book simultaneously.
What kind of support did you get from family members?
Tremendous I would say. My family has always supported me in all my decisions and career choices. My parents put a lot of trust in me and never say no to any of my decisions. I believe this is a blessing in itself that your parents believe in you come what may.
In a disputed region how a situation affects writer and how did they reach to the masses?
It affects a writer to a great extent both psychologically and emotionally. The internet ban, curfews, strikes; protests altogether affect the writings and psyche of a writer. There were a lot of instances when I wanted to write peacefully but the conditions never permitted me to do so. It becomes very difficult to reach out to the masses who are troubled by their own circumstances. No one wants to listen to your voice when their own voices are choked, same is with Kashmir, and every family has a story that deserves to be heard.
Thank You Azra for sharing your experience with our readers. Wishing you a bright future ahead.
The Interviewer can be contact on firstname.lastname@example.org
(This interview also appeared on Kashmir Images.)