3:08 | Conclusions Basil says that she gained many insights into her initial theme, the concept of exile and alienation, but that it came in bits and pieces here and there. No overarching conclusions, just further insights. Which, we think, is to be expected when tackling such a large and difficult topic. Basil is currently working on her next novel.
3:06 | You are What You Read "Reading is nourishment," declares the author. "On the whole, it inspires you and brings you up to the level to which you aspire. It helps you to create something more meaningful."
3:05 | Imperfections An audience member asks about the meaning behind the passage in which Sarna criticizes her daughter. Basil explains that Sarna, having had to give up her first (illegitimate) child in her youth, tries to distance herself and avoid loving anything too much. She tries to do this with her children by being harsh towards them but it doesn't work, she's unable to separate herself from her affections. In such a case, "flaws should be celebrated."
3:02 | Confessions "I haven't read the book yet," admits M. "So, will I like her?" she asks of the book's protagonist. "She’s a really tough one," responds Basil. Characters have their own integrity; you can’t force them into something that they’re not. The ending is a resolution of sorts. I think you end up with sympathy for Sarna." A short pause later she adds, "Other people have more dignity...not everyone’ a star."
3:00 | Character Origins Michelle asks if the characters are based on particular people or are an amalgam of people. Basil says the characters and their experiences draw on aspects of the lives of her parents and grandparents with some added embellishments, the privileges of fiction. Do we like Sarna? Basil says that Sarna is such a strong character. She's not an easy person but you come away with some sympathy for her. "As I neared the end of the book, she was just taking over. She wouldn't shut up!" says Basil about her main character, mimicking a sentiment many writers have about the ways in which their characters seem to take on a life of their own.
2:46 | Divorced from Affection
Sarna, afraid of love and its consequences, is isolated from her husband. Basil reads another passage in which, when away on vacation together for the first time, Sarna pushes aside her husband's attempted advances. Long years of marriage and the pain of secrets hidden have hardened Sarna's heart, but her husband acutely felt the loss of affections they had shared in the past. The passage intricately portrays the private drama between these two characters. This drama "is so consuming," says Basil. "We're so familiar with the violence and drama," says Basil yet she remarks that it's the private and familiar experiences that most define and consume our daily lives.
2:40 | To Love is to Suffer
Commenting on the previous passage, Basil quotes Woody Allen who said, "To love is to suffer. To avoid suffering, one must not love. But then, one suffers from not loving. Therefore, to love is to suffer; not to love is to suffer; to suffer is to suffer."
2:39 | Didn't You Catch the Rules? Someone's mobile phone goes off. They quickly rush to turn it off. We can see Michelle, up toward the front sitting in front of Lynn Pann, roll her eyes in annoyance. Don't worry Michelle, ours is on vibrate!
2:36 | Shorten that Sniffer Basil reads another passage of the book in which Sarna lectures one of her children about her beauty routine, telling her daughter that had she been using the creams and rubbing her nose the way Sarna had suggested, her nose would be "half the size it is now!" Sarna, always wanting to communicate her love to her children, is never quite able to communicate this in a way that her children can connect with.
2:34 | The Narratives of Our Lives Says Basil, "We all tell ourselves stories. We all invent narratives in our lives. We all remember events and tell stories differently. So in this story we see a family all approaching a certain truth in different ways." Our great-grandmother always used to tell stories differently than others sometimes remembered. For example, she disliked the name our uncle chose for his daughter (Anushka) so when she told people about her great-granddaughter, she changed the name (to Angela, or something like that).
2:27 | In Exile As many people were fleeing India at this time, Basil became fascinated by the notion of exile, normally associated with exile from one's homeland. "I wanted to look into the issue a bit further and look at how someone could be exiled from themselves. [The main character] is estranged from who she is." Sarna, the main character, is alienated from herself and has denied a major truth in her life.
2:25 | The Introduction Basil reads the introduction of the novel. Immediately you get the sense of someone trying to get away from someone. The novel is set in 1947 while Sikhs and Hindus are still fighting each other.
2:22 | Ishq and Mushq Basil explains the meaning behind the title of the novel--Ishq and Mushq. "They're Hindi words and they mean 'love and smell' and they're taken from an Indian proverb which says the only two things you can't hide are love and smell," she explains. "The main character has had quite a traumatic incident in her early adulthood and spends the rest of her life trying to cope with it. She has a hard time expressing her emotions so she begins to express herself and her emotions through food."
2:21 | Welcome! Michelle Garnaut introduces Priya and of course, repeats the housekeeping rules of the Festival. Michelle also announces that author Prya Basil's novel has been shortlisted for the 2008 Commonwealth Writers' Prize.