Poet and writer, Ao is retired professor of English, North Eastern Hill University. One of the major literary voices of the region, she was awarded the Padma Shri in 2007. She spoke to Debarun Borthakur and Gitanjali Das about her views on books and literature.
|Temsula Ao, Writer and Poet|
- What does literature mean to you? Do you think it has any relevance in our day-to-day lives? According to you, does it have anything to do with all that is happening around us?
- Literature is not something detached from my life. For me if literature does not talk about life it is not relevant. Today the Northeast is full of conflicts. Literature should mirror these conflicts and everything else that is true of life here.
- How close is your relation with literature in general, and with literature of the Northeast in particular?
- Literature has been my bread and butter, so you can say I have always had a pretty close relation with it.
- The Northeast is so beautifully varied. It is like the different hues in the rainbow. Each of the seven states in the region brings out a different flavour. I think one should do justice in portraying these various flavours through their writing. That is what I try to do with regard to my state.
- What future do you see for literature from the Northeast?
- I think literature from the Northeast has a great future. A lot has been written about the region and its various issues. However, there are so many other aspects of the Northeast that demand focus but have not been addressed so far. For example, the scenic beauty and its varied cultural grandeur. I see a great future if these subjects are also dealt with equally.
- Name one book that had a lasting impact on you. In what way?
- One book that I have really loved reading is The Good Earth by Pearl S Buck. I read it when I was quite young. It was the suffering of the protagonist who is a woman -- and the fact that she did not succumb to the pressures and atrocities committed against her -- that makes her a strong literary character.
- What book would you recommend for our readers and why?
- One book I think everybody should read once in their life is To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. It exposes the social prejudices of the time and shows how people can be swayed by the prevalent biases which are so much a part of our society.