Teen takes write step

Meet Si­mar Mal­hota, a 17- year- old school­girl who has penned a novel, runs an NGO and dreams of mak­ing a dif­fer­ence in the world

The Asian Age - - Spotlight - DIPTI

I feel the youth has the power to change the world and make it a bet­ter place SI­MAR MAL­HO­TRA

Si­mar Mal­ho­tra at first glance may come across as a typ­i­cal school­girl who is bom­barded with sev­eral aca­demic pa­pers and projects. How­ever, once you start a con­ver­sa­tion with her, you will be sur­prised to find that this class 12 stu­dent is also an au­thor and her de­but novel ti­tled There is a Tide is soon go­ing to be launched in the cap­i­tal.

At 17, this In­ter­na­tional Bac­calau­re­ate Diploma Pro­gram stu­dent from Step by Step In­ter­na­tional School, Jaipur re­veals that she al­ways liked to write but pen­ning a full- fledged novel hap­pened only by chance. “I have a habit of keep­ing a jour­nal since a young age but I have never writ­ten for an au­di­ence and nei­ther aimed at pen­ning a novel. It all hap­pened by chance when last sum­mer I changed my school and came from Delhi to Jaipur and from here I went to Yale Univer­sity for a sum­mer course. I took up two writ­ing cour­ses: ‘ Cre­ative Writ­ing’ and ‘ Shake­speare’. And that was the first time I wrote for an au­di­ence.” Talk­ing about her ten­ure at Yale and how it helped her con­nect with her pas­sion for writ­ing she says, “It was one of the best 5 weeks of my en­tire life. I had never stud­ied Shake­speare and when I came back from my first class, I was howl­ing be­cause I didn’t un­der­stand a word. I was so up­set and dis­tressed that my dad who had booked an open ticket from the US to In­dia, even sug­gested that I come back home if it was get­ting so dif­fi­cult. How­ever, I de­cided that I was not go­ing to leave the course mid­way and com­pleted my 5 weeks suc­cess­fully.”

She adds that her pro­fes­sors and peers at Yale re­ally helped and mo­ti­vated her to take her hobby of writ­ing to the next level. “While I was jot­ting down my ex­pe­ri­ences and mem­o­ries about my tour to Yale, I sud­denly thought of try­ing and weav­ing them into a story and see how it shapes up. Ini­tially I wasn’t even go­ing to tell any­one about it but as I was almost through with the book I re­alised that I didn’t want to waste my ef­fort. So, I called up my fa­ther back in Delhi and sent him the man­u­script and re­quested him to send it out to a few pub­lish­ers who could give me a feed­back. Both my fam­ily and I thought that since I was just 17 peo­ple wouldn’t take my work or me se­ri­ously. We even thought of self- pub­lish­ing the book if none of the pub­lish­ing houses re­sponded pos­i­tively. But luck­ily Rupa Pub­li­ca­tions liked my man­u­script. Now I am re­ally ex­cited about the au­di­ence re­ac­tion to my first book.”

There is a Tide is a fic­tional take on the youth of our coun­try and how they could make a dif­fer­ence in the so­ci­ety. It re­volves around Rhea Sax­ena who comes from an af­flu­ent and con­ser­va­tive fam­ily in New Delhi. She strug­gles to find her in­di­vid­u­al­ity, fights all odds to ful­fil her as­pi­ra­tion of be­com­ing a writer and over­comes a se­ries of po­lit­i­cal drama in­volv­ing her loved ones.

“I took lit­tle less than a year to fin­ish the book. Since I had no in­ten­tion of get­ting it pub­lished, I wrote at my own pace. I am a mid­night writer and used to fin­ish my school­work by night and start writ­ing post 12 till 5 am some­times,” says Si­mar, adding, “The book is ba­si­cally about the youth. I feel the youth re­ally has the power to change the world and make it a bet­ter place. But sadly we are so lost in our own web that we don’t take out time and walk an ex­tra mile to im­prove our so­ci­ety.”

Apart from be­ing a stu­dent and an au­thor, Si­mar also runs an NGO called Par­vaah. Elab­o­rat­ing about that she shares, “My NGO con­cen­trates on two things: en­vi­ron­ment and re­cy­cling. We have adopted a group of women near the out­skirts of Ch­hat­tarpur who ba­si­cally make colour­ful tow­els. We pro­vide them with raw ma­te­ri­als and help them sell the prod­ucts. What­ever rev­enue we earn from it is shared equally. Also if there is any sur­plus, we invest it in the next lot of raw ma­te­ri­als. It is in col­lab­o­ra­tion with an NGO called Ab­hyu­daya. We are plan­ning to take it for­ward by do­ing things like fund­ing a girl’s ed­u­ca­tion, teach­ing them English so they could stand on their feet in the near fu­ture.”

Her dad, who is a for­eign sales pro­fes­sional and mother who is an HR con­sul­tant, are over the moon about her achieve­ments. “I have so much school­work that I don’t even have time to think about the book launch. How­ever, my par­ents and younger brother are re­ally thrilled and ex­cited. I am just cross­ing my fin­gers that many peo­ple like my work. I am now plan­ning a se­quel,” she con­cludes.

( Left) Si­mar Mal­ho­tra; ( above) her de­but book ti­tled There Is A Tide which will be launched on Septem­ber 9.

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