HYDERABAD: Sorry, no happy endings,” here warns Chettupally Anvesh while giving a disclaimer about Mustard, the new Telugu book that was released on Sunday. This young MA English graduate from Osmania University who is currently preparing for PhD entrance and is the co-author and co-editor of the book has been instrumental in bringing out a collection of short non-fiction stories. The stories are from 16 different contemporary voices. The stories deal with challenges faced by women – from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), domestic violence, rape, toxic relationships, challenges faced by women.
Says his co-author and co-editor Kadali Satyanarayana, a young female Telugu writer from Hyderabad, “The word feminist is almost added like a slur to a woman for the simple reason that she is fighting for the women’s rights. But I am proud to say that Mustard is a collection of feminist writings.”
The idea to bring out a realistic story collection in Telugu came up when Anvesh was in conversation with Prof Sukumar from Delhi University. “I believe that life is the best teacher and to be able to share the lessons and experiences of real-life is a great form of writing.” There are stories of LGBTQ people, marginalised women, victims of casteism, of casting couch, bringing up a girl child, premarital sex etc. Barring Anvesh and Kadali most of them are first-time writers from Hyderabad, Telangana and one from Bengaluru. “Through word of mouth, we reached out to social activists who have been exposed to situations. In course of their work, they also may have honed their communication skills and we chose such passionate and articulate individuals to lend their voices,” the duo say.
Why an English title for a Telugu book? “My first book was also a Telugu book with an English title. The millennials will never pick up a book titled Darahaasam or Madhumasam. So it was a deliberate attempt – call it even a gimmick – just to attract the young generation to pick up the book. Also having an English title for a Telugu book, with story titles like Dignity with a hashtag #KapudukovadamEndukuNerparu, is to pique their interest. “I have a big circle on social media. So Anvesh and I are the faces of the book,” she says.Her story titled Red Flags with the hashtag #DooramAvvadamKoodaTelusundali, is about reading the warning signs in a relationship. She walks out of a toxic relationship.
The work on the book started in July and between exams and bouts of illnesses, the duo managed to put it together by September. Currently, the book published by HSRA Publishers is in a physical format and they will soon be getting the digital version too. “We are also considering a translation into other languages. These voices are powerful and they should be heard everywhere,” says Anvesh. He wrote the story of a Dalit girl who is in love with a Reddy boy who is preparing for Group I officers exam. She lends her attention, time and opportunities to him but he ditches her soon after he lands the job. The story questions whether the SC-ST law has been impactful in helping such women seek justice and if some even have freedom in a relationship.
— Manju Latha Kalanidhi