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Anita:The End of a Beginning
When Anita, a Scottish girl, is adopted by an Indian couple who have recently moved to Edinburgh, it seems that nothing can go wrong, not when her new home is so full of love.
Her adopted family feel confident that Anita will be able to live a perfect Scottish life in an Indian household. Yet even though Anita is able to experience the best of both worlds with her new family, being different isn’t always easy, and when she tries to fit in with those around her, everything begins to spin out of control.
A Conversation with Renuka Guru
We interview Renuka Guru and discuss her debut novel, Anita: End of a Beginning.
This is your debut novel. How does it feel?
I can’t yet believe the book is completed. For six years, I was juggling my time between the book, homeschooling my first son, and having my second son.
So, when I was finally nearing the finish line, I couldn’t feel relieved as I had gotten so used to thinking about the book all the time and my inability to finish it. I guess it will take a while before I realise I can’t edit it anymore.
Some of our readers might not know much about Anita: End of a Beginning. Are you able to tell us a bit about it?
The book follows the story of Anita, a Scottish girl who is adopted by an Indian couple living in Edinburgh. She seems to get the best of the both worlds. But as she grows, she starts to feel torn between her traditional Indian upbringing and the western sensibilities she is expected to adapt to.
Her life takes her into the dark corners of both cultures. The question is whether she can transcend her cultural labels and work out a path of her own.
You also look at wider themes of self-identification and spirituality in your book. What was it that drew you to this?
I have always been interested in spirituality. My interest in the subject grew when I was introduced to the Bhagavad Gita during my college days. Living abroad for five years gave me a broader perspective of self-identification.
I learnt how people who are confused regarding their identity can sometimes feel lost in the race to assert themselves or even become rebellious.
Knowing who am I and where I belong is vital to my existence. The theme of Anita: End of a Beginning is based on the false identifications that a person can end up assuming about themselves.
What inspired you to create the character of Anita?
We often hear news about celebrities adopting children from Africa and other third-world countries. I was tempted to think of an opposite situation and explore its repercussions.
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Well, I originally wanted to be an Army officer and had passed the Short Service Commission selection process of the Indian Army in the year I graduated from college.I missed the opportunity when I failed to make it into their consolidated all India final list.
My next option was teaching, which I did for eight years. After a while, though, I started feeling stagnant. As I was interested in creative writing, I took it up when I had got some free time while in the UK.
You have an MA in English Literature. Would you encourage other writers to take these kinds of courses? Do you feel that it made you a better writer?
I believe so. Studying the classics gave me a solid foundation for my writing. Having knowledge of practical criticism helped me to judge my work with a critical eye.
I also encourage writers to take a creative writing course to hone their writing skills. It is helpful to get feedback in order to grow as a writer.
How much of your own life is in the book?
Well, I guess an author can never completely free himself or herself from their books. There are a few aspects of my life included in Anita: End of a Beginning. For example, Ramaa and Gopalan have an inter-caste marriage, just like my husband and I do. But my in-laws are very supportive, unlike how Gopalan’s parents are portrayed in the story.
I have seen that nine out of ten Indian women who live abroad and do not wish to return to India cite in-law’s interference as their reason. So, I have been able to touch upon common themes in contemporary Indian society.
I hope you consider reading my book, and, if you do, I hope it is worth your time and money. Thank you.