BENGALURU: When 25-year-old Akash K J Bhat quit his job in journalism a few years ago, he had grown tired of making up stories to meet deadlines. Ironically, he’s now meeting strangers and listening to their life stories to gather material for his work of fiction.
“Reality does not always have to make sense. Fiction does,” says the youngster, who is working on a collection of sci-fi short stories.
A part of the book features a string of diverse memories. Akash hopes interviewing people with interesting experiences would help him concoct these episodes.
A month ago, he posted an invitation for coffee and conversation on the social networking site, Reddit, and has met close to 11 people since. “They were all interesting and willing to tell me their stories. I have been lucky that way,” he says.
A college student he met spoke about being expelled from school for using marijuana. “She was a little hesitant in the beginning. So I let her ask me personal questions. Once she opened up, there was no stopping her. She even broke down towards the end. I had to take her to Blossom and buy her a book to cheer her up,” Akash recalls.
Another man he met believed that anyone he loves ends up dead. “He told me that his mother passed away when he was born, while his father died recently. Three of his girlfriends died and the people he befriends fall really sick in a matter of months. He thinks he has a weird superpower,” he shares.
The list also features a highly-paid-yet-unsatisfied corporate employee who loves making filter coffee so much that he wakes up every morning and makes some for his neighbours; and a guy who grew up in Andhra Pradhesh being exposed to a lot of violence and went to a school where everyone carried a sickle.
Akash admits to greedily taking notes when people start opening up. “Sometimes I forget to offer a kind word and end up feeling really guilty later. Paying for their coffee is the least I can do,” he says.
The young writer has documented a lot of emotions through these interviews. However, he is hoping to branch out and meet people from the older generation. He says, “While young people are easier to talk to, their experiences are not very different from mine. Older people have a different take on things.”
“I’ve tried striking up conversations with oldtimers at Vidyarthi Bhavan, where I regularly go to have breakfast, but — would you believe — they look at me with suspicion!” he adds with a chuckle.
The collection is not Akash’s first attempt at writing fiction. “I wrote a 1,400-page novel — involving wizards and spell-casters -- in college. I am currently editing that as well. I would like to turn it into a three-part series soon,” he says.
Having studied Visual Communication at Dr GRD College of Science, Coimbatore, Akash is currently the Communications Lead at Furlenco, a company that offers furniture on rent.
In order to hone one’s craft, it’s important to practise, he believes. “I make it a point to write at least a little bit every day,” Akash says.