In Conversation with Veena Naravane

In Conversation with Veena Naravane

Bare Bones Publishing is delighted to welcome Mrs. Veena Naravane to its Advisory Board. Mrs. Naravane has a postgraduate degree from Jawaharlal Nehru University. She has a teaching career spanning four decades, during which period she has taught in many schools in India and abroad, and has also been a teacher educator. She is a consultant to several NGOs including CEQUE and Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, besides having been the President of Army Wives Welfare Association. Her interests include reading and writing, having contributed numerous articles and short stories to various publications.

We interviewed Mrs. Naravane for our readers.

In my growing years, most adults around me were into academics. They not only read and wrote prolifically but were also very articulate in English, Hindi, and Marathi. Writing with clarity, using the right words, and an apt turn of phrase was considered important. We were encouraged to write letters to our grandparents and to each other frequently. Equal emphasis was laid on speaking with good diction, whether it be an English poem or a Sanskrit shloka. 

There was one incident that unmistakably brought home the power of language to me. I used to visit our neighbourhood grocery shop to buy lemon drops. They used to cost 1 naya paisa for 10 pieces. On one occasion, I gave the shopkeeper a 2 paisa coin. He gave me my lemon drops and returned the change in the form of a 1 paisa coin. I examined it and returned it to the gentleman saying, “Uncle, yeh sikka kharab hai,” meaning the coin is damaged. The old man gave me a long look, replaced the coin, and also handed me two extra lemon drops. When I looked at him askance, he explained that he appreciated the fact that I had not said, “Paisa kharab hai,” meaning the money is damaged but had used a more precise word “sikka”. I was all of six years old then. 

My favourite book of all time is Sons and Lovers by D. H. Lawrence. Published way back in 1913, I feel it is vastly under-appreciated amongst my contemporaries except maybe those who have been students of English literature.

Set in Lawrence’s native Nottinghamshire, this is the story of Paul Morel and the complicated relationship he has with his mother who has herself been the victim of an abusive marriage. Paul, as also his brothers, finds it difficult to love other women because the mother remains the strongest power in their lives even as they approach adulthood. 

There are many elements that make this novel compelling. First and foremost is Lawrence’s elegant prose. The countryside and the work of the coalminers springs to life before one’s eyes. The descriptions of flowers so intimately woven into the narrative, are exquisite. The subtleties of Paul’s antagonistic relationship with his best friend Miriam, as also his tumultuous relationship with the already married Clara, are revealed to the reader layer by layer. 

This book is supposed to have an autobiographical element in it. Although a work of fiction, I would call it a work of art!

I would definitely take journal writing more seriously. In my student days, I would open a brand-new journal every 1st of January and abandon it in 10-15 days. I regret that today. 

If I had made journalling a habit in my younger days, I feel I would have been more creative in my adult life. Not only would I have been able to reflect more deeply on what is happening around me, but I would have been able to write more effortlessly as well.

Every child deserves a good teacher. If I were given some magical power, I would ensure that every child gets a competent and motivated teacher who helps her achieve her true potential. For the underprivileged, a teacher is the only person who can help them break free from the cycle of poverty. 

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