While the world protested that the women in Saudi Arabia should be given equal rights, Syeda Faiza Rasheed worked her way up the ladder and wrote two of the best collections – The Balloon Girl and Love and Pain in Verses. Let’s see what this hardworking woman has in store for us.
Which is the book that had introduced you to the world of fiction?
I have been reading from a long time. According to my mother, I started reading through picture books. In school, it was always fairy tales or Nancy Drew which caught my fancy. Then there was a ‘no-reading phase’. I finally got back to fiction through Sidney Sheldon’s Tell me your dreams. And since then I have been reading and writing.
Which writer has inspired you the most?
Cecelia Ahern, Fia Essen, Marilyn Grey, Danielle Steel, Sidney Sheldon, Dan Brown; there are so many of them!
Do you think children should only read the good standard books in literature in order to develop their literary skills?
Well, I feel that we have tagged the classics as the best way to develop literary skills in children. It is very true that they are the best gems in the treasure of literature.
We forget that contemporary issues are what children miss out. There are times when a beautiful book like A Tale of Two Cities won’t make any sense to them, as it is abridged and unknown times for them.
It is indeed important first to inculcate reading habits in children and then let them choose what they want to read. Yet, there are few genres which need to be monitored before allowing children into it.
A language teacher will always be a great guide in this if s/he keeps reading books and shares those books with the students.
Which is easier for you – composing a poem or writing a short story?
Composing a poem. It just comes instinctively to me. Writing a short story is something I enjoy when there are no word limits. I dread it when a word limit is set as it limits my expressions.
You have stayed in Saudi Arabia for a long time. Did you feel claustrophobic because of the tight rules meant for women there?
Well, to each his own thoughts and perceptions, I guess. I have stayed there and worked there too. So it shows I didn’t find it claustrophobic. I used to visit the Ministry of Education office for our school’s girls wing. Everyone there was a female. It was a new thing for me, as in India there is hardly a place where only women are employed-probably an NGO or something.
There are some good sides to that societal build up which is hardly shown. This is what I think.
What’s your view on the Triple Talaq?
Personally, I feel it is an issue that has been exaggerated a lot. It looks to be put under the microscope though more troubles lie before the women of India, irrespective of religion. Facts state that just a meagre percentage of women suffer due to Triple Talaq while many suffer due to misconceptions tied up in the name of religion, or culture and traditions.
How many of us are aware that if a woman doesn’t want to be in a marriage, Islam gives her the option of Khula? Quran states that the man has to pay a dowry to the parents of the woman to marry her. Is that followed in the society? Everywhere in Quran, it is ‘O men and women, O believers, O children of Adam’. Then where is the discrimination coming from? It is due to our mentality and thoughts that women are weak and to be kept under control.
Women around the globe are suppressed. Some societies have just made them objects of desire or exploitation. Which country is there where rapes don’t happen? Where does domestic violence not take place?
In my opinion, if a marriage lacks love and care, it cannot sustain itself. If a man thinks he will use the weapon of Talaq to subjugate the woman in his Nikah, he deserves to be left. He really doesn’t deserve you. Allah has set rules and responsibilities on men and women, if they don’t value or follow them, restlessness, unhappiness, and dejection will follow. Such a marriage is always like a ship in turbulent waters. And no force can fill it with love or care or concern unless they want to.
“The Balloon Girl” is an interesting read. If you could sell the movie rights, which actors would you like to be a part of the cast and why?
“The Balloon Girl” is a collection of stories, and if the movie rights were to be sold, I would be over the top!!
The Balloon Girl is my protagonist and in that character, I would like to see Alia Bhatt.
What is the next book coming up that your fans should eagerly wait for?
Fans!! Well, that’s a big word. Let’s say they’re friends of mine who read my work. They will get to read a romantic novel, which I hope to complete next year, InShaAllah.
How would you like to inspire the budding writers?
There is a trend I have seen these days, loading the write-ups with words which are too difficult to understand. A new word or a hard word doesn’t show skill, it makes it difficult for the reader to understand your work. As English is not our native language, and we need to develop language among the readers, so we should incorporate new words but not at the expense of losing the essence of the story. Trust me no one likes to open a dictionary every now and then to understand the word and that may leave the reader annoyed.
Most important of all, ‘Read’. The more you read, the better will be your ability to express. Reading allows you to feel words and teaches you how to write!
Write with passion, be willing to learn consistently, be optimistic and have a lot of patience.
Any take on StarWords India and its platform?
StarWords India is a wonderful place to help the aspiring writers and artists to reach out to the world. I see it as a platform that allows the new talent to get exposure which actually helps them work harder and do better. It allows us to reach out and let everyone know who we are and share with them the stories we have weaved.
Get in touch with her on Facebook.