Interview by Nonika Singh for Hindustan Times

A pen pitched HIGH...


Pen might be mightier than the sword. Writer Manoj Singh, whose book Vyaktitatav Ka Prabhaav comprising varied articles was released at a function at Chndigarh Press Club-27, has no intention of using his pen to cut others to the quick. Rather he says, ''I never hit out at anybody. The ultimate philosophy of life lies in Gandhigiri''.

Of course he is no saint, ''for, a saint can never be a writer, he insists, is the one who connects, reaches out to his reader. Hence his lucid, simple and spontaneous writing is rooted in realism. Of course one reality this senior government official steadfastly avoids is politics. And there is no insider's expose of how government functions either. An engineer by profession, the writing-bug afflicted him a few years ago. The professional seesaw made him sensitive, woke him up to higher truths of life. And in last few years, he has, besides a weekly column in Hindi newspaper, written Chandrikotasav, a poetic story a festival of moon and moonlit night comprising 134 verses. And his novel Bandhan, based on the life of a schizophrenic, for which he did complete groundwork, visited mental hospitals too is currently a subject of research at Shimla. Between different genres of writing he asserts : ''the difference unfolds thus. While poetry emanates from one's heart and can never be forced, a novel stens from keen observations and flights of imagination''. In fact while penning a novel, he studiously turns away from all kind of reading.''So I am not influenced by others' writing style or thought-process. For my columns, I need to dig deeper and browse as much as I can. ''However even then his weekly columns are not academic or scholarly excesses for he doesn't endorse heavy cerebral slant of writing. Actually he who believes in god of small things, picks up little details to flesh out his articles. From Ritu Beri's exorbitantly priced book to writings of Gandhi-Nehru to movies like Rang De Basanti and Lage Raho Munna Bhai, anything can trigger his imagination. But on the need for his latest book, a compilation of 50 articles already published in varied newspapers, he says : ''for one, in the book form there is common thread between varied articles. More significantly newspaper writings have a limited shelf life''. But this writer for whom : '' writing may have begun as a lark but is now a serious preoccupation'', is determind to lend an eternal and universal appeal to his written word.

Right now focussing on his new novel Kashmkash, chronicling the lives of three generations of women reflecting the sea change that has taken place in woman's societal position, through his writing he intends to make vital contribution to society. No wonder then that established litterateurs hailing him as a capable writer are welcoming his entry into their literary world.