The author of ‘And The Jhelum Flows…’ on his crowdfunding experience and more

Posted on 23 February, 2016 by Team Wishberry

Jhelum And The Jhelum Flows..., is a novel about the marginalised people living in and beyond Kashmir. The book offers a view into Kashmir not from a distant, clichéd and sensational perspective, but from the perspective of an average Kashmiri – someone who has a deep empathy for this paradise. After successfully crowdfunding the novel in July 2015, author Ramendra Kumar recently launched the book and shared his exciting experience post publishing with us. Check his campaign page out HERE!

What all have you been up to since the crowdfunding success?

Ramendra: I handed the manuscript to an academician, journalist and a homemaker for their critique. After which I tweaked the copy in a couple of places, and also narrowed down on a publisher. The book went online immediately after publishing and we also held an online contest to drive attention to the book. I also created a Facebook page, a book trailer and had a curtain raiser done by an e-zine. The launch of the book which was followed by a reading, was done in the presence of well known artists - writer by Dr. Aminuddin Khan, and theatre personality Dr. Shankar Melkote. File0018

What drove you to write about the marginalised people in and beyond Kashmir?

Ramendra: I visited Srinagar a couple years ago for a lit fest, after which I went on a sightseeing trip and interacted with locals across the spectrum. The picture that I came across was a set of innocent, beautiful and peace loving people being pulverized by the state and the non-state actors.  Some of the stories shook me to the core. I came back and wrote the book which is dedicated to the average Kashmiri. The protagonist of ‘And the Jhelum Flows . . .’ is Kashmir itself. It goes beyond the binary division of black and white in which the Kashmir issue is usually depicted and instead shows the various shades of grey in between. It is the story of a mother who searches for her missing son, a father who dies for his daughter, a young woman killed on the eve of her wedding, a student tortured and driven to suicide, the obsession with revenge, the betrayal of trust, the loss of innocence . . . The novel weaves together several narratives to create a moving portrait of a land marked by hatred, fear, violence, and suspicion, where despite all the pain and sorrow, there is yet optimism and hope for a better tomorrow. The picture that the novel paints is a reflection of the reality in other parts of the country where peace is under siege, and hope is the last resort.  

Tell us about the challenges you faced while working on this project?

Ramendra: Any narrative is usually a combination of observation, experience and imagination. The ten odd days I spent in Kashmir helped me observe and learn a little bit of the happenings on ground zero. I could also vicariously experience the pain and angst of the average Kashmiri. But to write a complete novel based on these strands was proving to be extremely difficult. That is where my imagination came to my rescue. From little threads of conversation, personal accounts and secondary sources I created this novel.    

When did you begin work on the novel? What sort of research went into it?

Ramendra: After I returned from Kashmir in 2011, I started working on it. I read two books on Kashmir, visited a few websites, the rest was based on my imagination.  

How was your experience of self-publishing a novel in India?

Ramendra:  It was quite a fulfilling one. The publisher involved me at each and every stage, stuck to the schedule and helped me in marketing the book in cyberspace.  

Do share some advice for upcoming writers.

Ramendra: Self publishing should be the last choice – I opted for it only because mainstream publishers wanted me to bowdlerise the manuscript which was never an option. The upcoming writers should explore the traditional modes of publishing before going in for vanity publishing.  

What has been the highlight of your experience as a writer? Any favourite out of the 27 novels you’ve authored?

Ramendra: I am a writer by passion. Yes, ever since I can remember it was my dream to be a writer.   I started by writing satire, adult fiction and poetry. When my daughter, was around three it was my responsibility to put her to sleep. Instead of telling the traditional fables and fairy tales I started creating little stories for her.  I found she lapped them all up. I typed   them and sent them to children’s magazines. The stories started getting published and thus began my journey into the idyllic world of children. I now dabble in all genres. In fact when I get bored writing in one I moved on to another genre. That is the reason why the dreaded ‘Writer’s Block’ has never plagued me. My journey as an author has been an extremely fascinating and a very fulfilling one. It has also given me an opportunity to expand my repertoire. I am now an inspirational speaker and story teller. I also conduct creative writing workshops for children. ‘And the Jhelum Flows...’ was the toughest one to write, and I found the process a very enriching one.  

What’s next on your plate?

Ramendra: I have finished a novel titled ‘A Naani called Tsunami’.  It is a tale of a 62 year old grandma who has chunks of infectious enthusiasm, unbridled energy and an unconventional take on life.  The books are a tale of camaraderie, commitment, guts and gumption, laced with oodles of masti and chunks of humour. What should make the book an endearing read (I hope) is the connect between the gen ex and gen next. The book is value driven but never preachy or didactic, its tone is sensitive but not maudlin, it takes up issues of concern without snapping the gossamer thread of humour.

We keep cluttering the internet with our writing.

Keep yourself updated