BY ARTI DAS | NT BUZZ
We all know that in life everything is temporary. But there are some things that never leave us. That feeling or that desire always haunts us, and in a way defines our very existence.
For well-known, Mumbai-based, writer, Jerry Pinto, it was his latest book titled, ‘Em and The Big Hoom’ that haunted him for the last 20 years. It is a story that was always with him and which he always wanted to write.
“This story was with me even before I wrote my first book. When I had written it down first, my publisher told me to re-write the entire story, which I had taken two years to write. It meant I had to spend two more years writing it. There were times when I thought I would write it, but could not. The moment came when I turned 40 and looked back on my life,” says Jerry, who is here in Goa for the Goa release of this book.
‘Em and The Big Hoom’ is a book that tells the compelling story of the Mendeses - mother, father, daughter and son. Em, the beedi-smoking, hyperactive mother, driven frequently to hospital by her mania and failed suicide attempts, and The Big Hoom, the rock-solid, dependable father, trying to hold things together as best he can, are an extraordinary family.
The story is sourced from Jerry’s personal life. He says, “I would define this book as 95 per cent autobiographical and 95 per cent fiction. The rest five per cent is for the reader to decide. It is throws up questions like ‘Could this happen?’ and ‘Does this happen?’ I don’t have the answers; each reader will get it for himself.”
Writing about your personal story, which is about a not-so-normal family… was the journey difficult?
On this point, Jerry elaborates, “It is both yes and no for me. The material is intensely personal and I used to step away from it when it became too personal. Regarding writing about a not-so-normal family, I believe that there is no normal family. Every family holds in its heart some secrets and lies. This is normal and also a survival strategy.”
He further adds. “For writing a book you require three things - point of view, tone and, lastly, knowing what you want to write about. The first two points are the struggle that every writer has and it is a craft which gets better with age. I took around 20 years with this book.”
‘Em and The Big Hoom’, which is already released in other parts of the country, is receiving positive reviews. But, Jerry is not carried away by this fact.
“I have always written for myself and I think it is the death of a writer when s/he thinks critics and writes. Hopefully, I will continue writing the way I have written before and reviews will not bother me,” says Jerry.
Currently he is working on two projects. It includes one graphic novel for Scholastic titled, ‘When Crows are White.’
“It is a fable for children with a quiet message about tolerance. The other book is on the selected pros of Adil Jussawalla. It is a beautiful work of one man’s thought process over 30 years,” adds Jerry.
Jerry, who also has roots in Goa and is also very fluent in Konkani, is positive about the growth of literary intellectuals in Goa.
“Coming to Goa is like coming home for me. It is always a new place for me on every visit. Also the intellectual landscape is ever changing in Goa and this is very positive,” opines Jerry. However, he further mentions that we still have a long way to go.
“It is good that so many literary activities are happening. But, do our villages have a library? We are still a book hungry nation. If our children are exposed to reading and books right from the start then ours would be a different world altogether,” concludes Jerry.
(Jerry Pinto will conduct a two-part workshop - A Beginners' Guide to Writing on June 2 and June 3 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at The International Centre Goa (ICG). The theme of the workshop is ‘Getting started, taking your first steps to being a writer’. The workshop is organised by The International Centre Goa in association with Goa Writers’ Group. There is also a formal book release of Em and The Big Hoom at the hands of Dr Maria Aurora Couto on June 2 between 6 p.m. and 7.30 p.m. Event is open to all.)