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Her love affair with books began as a youngster when she would read her cousin’s books. Captivated with romance and love the 22-year-old Safina Khan Soudagar is both, excited and nervous as she releases her debut novel ‘The Arranged Love Marriage’ on Sunday, July 31. A student of MA Psychology, Safina tells NT KURIOCITY why writing for her is an escape, a form of catharsis for her soul

Escaping into Romance


Danuska Da Gama I NT KURIOCITY

Safina Khan Soudagar’s tryst with the romance genre began early in life. The debutante author is looking forward to the release of ‘Arranged Love Marriage’. Ask her why she titled her debut novel so the 22-year-old says there was no particular reason behind the name: “We were going through the ideas. We were thinking of love as an idea but also about the conflict of not wanting to get into a relationship.”

As an avid reader she spent her days with the works of much-loved romance authors like Daniel Steel, Nicholas Sparks, and Sydney Sheldon among others. Like them, she too hopes to make it big in the favourite genre – romance fiction.

The book is Safina’s dream come true. “There was one part of the book which kept coming back to me. It just wouldn’t leave. So after much thought I decided to pen it down,” she says. A few friends got together and brainstormed to build the plot. While it initially had aliens and spies, she finally settled for a love story. “It took two years to write the story and about the same for printing and publishing,” says the young author.

The story is about Saphira Varma, who at twenty seven is well-established in her dream company and is happily single. It is only when her parent’s wish for her to settle her world turns upside down. While her heart is locked away, she meets a business-minded stranger Sameer Malhotra. Sameer is one who never thought of an arranged marriage but is okay with the idea for he believes the girl chosen by his parents might bring happiness. He eventually finds himself captivated by the woman. While Saphira is not ready to let go off her past, Sameer as the caring husband tries to help her.

Safina says she generally writes whenever she feels a strong emotion – anger, sadness or happiness. “I would just write down whatever comes to my mind. The feeling of satisfaction of reading what I was thinking is for me catharsis for my soul.”

Currently pursuing her Masters in Psychology, with an aim to make a career in counselling and writing simultaneously, she believes her chosen field of study helps her in sketching out the characters and profiles in her stories. “It helps me to get an insight into what people might be thinking and feeling in a particular situation.”

Not afraid of being tagged as cliché, Safina has no qualms of admitting that her favourite genre is romance. “I was in fact very cynical when I started reading romance novels. But then I thought, why not write about it in a good way. It has been done to death, but it has a different perspective every time. It will never go out of style,” she says. She believes her book will find readers in the young adults.

The biggest challenge was time constraint as she could only write when she had holidays. “It was difficult coming back to the story after six months, revising, and building the story from where it was left,” she says.

About family support she states: “Initially my family wasn’t used to me sitting on the laptop continuously. But when they got to know I was writing a book they were supportive except for the time when they were forced to read the book. My family is not into books, but my mother has promised that she will read it soon.”

Safina also loves to write poems. Her poetry is intense and deeply rooted in emotions. “It’s not necessarily based on my life, but they are also influenced from what I see or read. A lot of poems are based on emotions that I feel or based on my thinking when I read books.”

Safina soon plans to release her collection of poems too. With a collection of over 150 poems, she tells us that she started writing poems when she was in the seventh standard. She later opened her Instagram profile where she began following poets who posted writer prompts every week which helped her become a better writer. Writing for her is catharsis. She calls it an escape from emotions.

It saddens Safina that many people her age, don’t read books and are stuck with social media. “It saddens me that people don’t read. The feeling of holding book is what I like and that’s the reason I didn’t want to have an e-book,” says Safina.

Besides writing, Safina paints and does murals. She used to dance but has given it up now for she has taken the vow to wear a hijab. “It was my choice. No one in my family wears it. If people ask me why I’m doing it I will tell them. They are ignorant and hence can make as much fun as they want,” she says. It was last year when she was reading a chapter on women in the Quran she was intrigued with the idea of covering the body for self respect. She also plans to write on how women like her are stereotyped because of the hijab, or abaya, but for that she says she would need a lot of time and research.

After penning down ‘The Arranged Love Marriage’ Safina says it’s difficult in today’s times to actually make a choice between choosing to have an arranged or love marriage. “I have seen so many friends who have had love marriages have problems and there are problems in arranged marriages too. It all depends on the two individuals. The two main things are communication and understanding,” concludes Safina.

(The book will be launched on July 31 at Multipurpose hall, Directorate of art and culture, Panaji at 4 p.m. Open to all)

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