Opinion: Lucknow's Ganga-Jumuni tehzeeb comes alive in Parveen Talha's short stories

Lucknow a city of 'tehzeeb'. Photograph:( Others )

Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India Dec 20, 2017, 09.39 AM (IST) Shivani Kumar

Parveen Talha is a writer, bureaucrat and a lover of the Lucknow city.

Parveen's achievements are endless. She has been the first Muslim woman in India to serve in any Class I civil service in India, the first Indian Revenue Service officer to become a member of the Union Public Service Commission, and the first woman to serve in Narcotics Department of India.

On the release of her second book, A Word Thrice Uttered, Talha spoke to WION on a number of topics related to her life, literary work, and living. She explained how her surrounding is the biggest inspiration for her writing. She tries to find compelling stories in the people around her.

I asked Parveenji whether writing has been an incomplete dream of her as she started writing only after retirement; Talha responded that she always wanted to become an "independent person" but "writing is something which does not give you a proper status or livelihood until you become a well-known author." As now, she is retired and made a comfortable life for her, she is focussing on her hobby of writing.

Parveen Talha's first book, Fida-e-Lucknow as well as her second book, ‘A Word Thrice Uttered’ make a very deft portrayal of Hindu-Muslim characters. Commenting on it Talha said, it comes from the 'Ganga-Jamna tehzeeb’ of Lucknow. The city is the crucible of "joint culture, meaning all the communities living there becomes part of the other culture."

'A Word Thrice Uttered' a book by Parveen Talha. (Others)

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We must say that the 'ganga-jamna tehzeeb’ reflects in the stories also.

Parveen Talha has strong relation with animals too. She feels as much about animals as she feels about humans, and that strong connection she shares with the non-human world reflects in her stories too.

Talha told how she was always "encouraged by her father to always keep an animal and be kind to them."

Talha believes that "each and everything, be it living or non-living thing made by God, has a purpose to serve and humans have no right to say that it belongs to them only."

Talha's stories often show a friendly relationship between different animals. The story Sona and Tiger, for instance, shows an unusual motherly love between a dog and cow. Incidentally, Parveen Talha really enjoys the pictures of different species of animals playing together.

Books of Talha portrays human emotions in a very raw form and because of her lucid writing style a reader, the stories sound very familiar. There is a female character in the story, 'Virginity Lost... So What?', who is trying to find a guy who doesn't mind her lost virginity Or the boy 'In Let Me Have a Love Affair' who desperately tries to fall in love. Talha said she has "felt all those emotions" and she writes what she feels inside.

Parveen believes that "happiness and tragedy come in a cycle in a person’s life" and she likes to portray the reality in her stories. And the best way to keep attuned to reality is to make sure that the "protagonist’s life can’t be filled with happiness only" and it will be a mix of all kinds of ups and downs.

"Happy endings simply mean the story ends there, but beyond that, there is always the cycle of tragedy followed by happiness."

Talha also expressed her willingness to write novels in the future. But before she starts working on a novel, she wants to write a short story trilogy.

Parveen Talha’s first book is now available in Urdu translation.

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL).