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Womb of Fireflies – Ambika Barman

Womb of Fireflies – Ambika Barman

Womb of Fireflies – Ambika Barman

Sanjana Kumar

What was the experience of writing a book for the first time like? Can you tell us about the processes involved till a book reaches the reader’s desk?

I started writing this book around the age of 19. Purely based out of visual observations that I could recollect from my summer vacation trips to G-Plot in the Sundarbans. So, it felt like going through the entire journey, afresh in the mind, yet, so far while sitting in Delhi. So, initially I would scribble some paragraphs and notes in the notepad as the distance between my home and Ramjas, where I did my graduation in English Literature was more than two hours. So, the entire scribble and further scripting happened in Delhi Metro. Later on, this shifted to actual structural formation once I joined IIFT, Delhi for MBA. So, it took me two and half-year. Then, I met Invincible publication in the World Book Fair in Pragati Maiden during their ‘Author’s Meet’ conducted around Jan. So, Invincible was the sole publication house, whom I contacted. Here, the entire process much like all other traditional publishing houses goes through reviewing and analysing your sample work, accepting and going forward with approving your draft to publish. The entire process of writing itself felt different as if my sentence structure changed or got better meaning with time. 


What was the first idea that steered you towards writing and conceptualizing Womb of Fireflies?

              Initially, no specific idea just words in simple flow like what all I could recollect back in my imagination. Mostly, the natural space of that area without configuration of characters and chapters. Later on, characters were created, some got induced with every new chapter and some were even removed.

             More than inspiration, it was a spark. Still, when I recall the entire process, and specifically how it started, it gives me Goosebumps. Just like any other PCM student in class twelfth, I never imagined doing English Honours. Yet, I clearly remember the orientation of the English Department in Ramjas, when our professors were intrigued to know the reason behind doing or obtaining this course. Though, I felt ashamed that day as I was the sole child without reason and plan, yet when I connect those dots today. All of it seems like all of these were meant to happen. And, in one such class, room no 13, Sneha Ma’am said, “If you don’t feel an in existential crisis, in short, a purpose to choose this course or do something with life in next two-three years. Then, you will regret later on”. I was 19 back then, still in the second semester of my college. That afternoon, after coming back home, I planned to write a collection of short stories, which I left in the mid-way. And, starting from fresh with this book, “Womb of Fireflies”.  From the beginning, I wanted to keep the name of the book, ‘Soft Joy of Happiness’. But, it was changed at the last moment as I couldn’t relate with the plot. 


 Which of the characters in your book is closest to your heart? How were the characters in your book borne out?

The character of Hari, who is a complete reflection of my grandfather. He was the first graduate back in the 1960s from Kolkata, who came back to his roots and help out those poverty-stricken in all possible ways. He could have settled down in Kolkata and led a better and economically secure life. And, I still remember that when he died. The entire G-Plot was there for his cremation. He was that much people’s person and filled with empathy  toward others. 


Have you ever had any experience with the challenges that are faced by the female characters in your book?

My own grandmother got married before stepping eighteen. So, all those things which she believed to be tradition, custom made for every woman out there in the name of fate. All those practices accepted with ease like those sacrifices women needs to make after the death of husband. Prioritizing marriage over education for girls. The issue is that these things are so ingrained within them from generations, not their fault that they accept it without questioning. Major challenge here is not seeing anything wrong in accepting that women are inferior to Sundarban men. Plus, the stories of child marriage and men’s believe that they have an authority over women bodies in terms whom they seek for marriage and everything is pretty realistic. All weaved out of stories, I have heard there. That’s the major reason the book sounds so realistic, more like life. 


Your passionate and realistic description of the Sunderbans transports the readers straight to the land of this unknown beauty. How were you able to frame such a vivid description of the Sunderbans?

            I am a native of that place. Though, not born and brought up there. But, my ancestors     have. So, most of my summer vacations were spent there. That’s how I was able to write , whatever I saw.   


There are places in India where malpractices like child marriage are still very much prevalent. What do you suggest can be done to completely eradicate this practice?

            Education. The legal laws can force them but humans will search for ways to overturn the boundaries of laws in their respective lives. So, education can bring clarity and uplift their thinking standards. 


Do you plan on writing any more books in the near future?

             Yes!  Already in my second book. 


How has the feedback been for the book? Any favourite response from a reader?

            Till now. It has been great. Already, it has received 4.4 rating in Amazon and Goodreads. Gone for reprinting. This book is not only for me, but for all those people who reside or have roots from there. Acknowledging the existence of the place has been my favourite response from all the reviewers and readers who responded in various social media platforms.

About the Interviewee:

Ambika Barman is a 22 years old Indian Author, born and raised in New Delhi India. She went on to study at Ramjas College, the University of Delhi, where she earned her graduate degree a B.A in English Literature. Currently, she is a first-year MBA student in Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, Delhi. She is a multi-dimensional personality- an avid reader, writer, trained classical singer and loves to paint and sketch pictures. Amidst, her summer trips as a child, all back to her own roots in the G-Plot, Sundarbans, she has heard and gathered all those stories from her grandparents, and locals. This is her first novel, where she has written about all those humans, staying, breathing and residing in the mysterious, green land.