Rahul Nigam is found romancing with love, life, and philosophy in his book Such Is Life. Reading his poems, one would actually wonder if an IIM (Kolkata) educated corporate strategist could articulate his thoughts so well. No doubt, the seed of poetry germinates in a soul regardless of his professional pursuits. Poetry is a beautiful art which comes effortlessly to people who just feel immensely!
Let’s get into a candid tete-a-tete with Rahul:
Ques: Please introduce yourself to our readers. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Rahul: I am a Human Being – I aspire not just to Breathe, but to Live; this is a recurring theme which appears in my poems as well.
As for the specifics, I am an engineer, management graduate, a corporate strategist by profession and now a published poet 🙂
I love to play with words that come straight from my heart. Putting into ink and paper my feelings and emotions, that are bottled for long, gives me my ultimate nirvana.
I have been experimenting with words since my childhood – it has made my life relevant and worth living. I never thought about it as a profession, or long-term objective – it just happened, without any planning. I have been scribbling my thoughts and feelings since my school days and they found meaning by themselves
I pursued what I loved to do and chased my dreams, broke away with the norms of a usual, high profile corporate life, for an experience that soothes my soul, and here I am.
Ques: What inspires you to write books? What are the things which catch your attention?
Rahul: As outlined in the ‘Preface’ of the book – ‘Life’ itself is the inspiration. My own life, my experiences and the lives and experiences of the people around me forms the undercurrent of all my writings.
Events around me where I may or may not be involved, peoples’ reactions to different situations, and my own interpretation of love and life inspire me to write.
I love conversing with myself, am sometimes witness to my own conflicts of thoughts, which I gradually iron out, and then weave them into a form that everyone can relate to. Our lives can be different, situations can vary, but expectations remain the same – we all want to be happy, peaceful souls.
All my poems are a mirror of life experiences and my own philosophies around them.
Ques: What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Rahul: Well, …one quirk that I can think of is…I often start writing from the back of a notebook. My poems are often on the last pages….and go in reverse order. Maybe, it’s the impact of a lot of Urdu poetry that I have read.
I like to experiment a lot with my poetry – different forms of poems….visual poetry, abstract ones, in parts, etc.
I draw inspiration from Gulzar’s Triveni. Most of my poems end with lines that hit the reader hard. They take the whole poem to a completely new dimension, which a reader cannot anticipate.
Example: the last lines of my poem Twins end with: My mother gave birth to twins, me and my loneliness.
Reading through the poem, the reader has the impression that the poet is talking about a real companion, who has been through with him all through. It’s only in the last two lines that the poem takes a rather unexpected turn that hits the reader.
‘Such is Life’ has an exclusive collection of 21 Trivenis titled ‘Musings’ of Love & Life. One of my favorites is:
Strangely, my love for you grew,
When you decided to walk off…
Sealed for life, at that moment.
Ques: Tell something in brief about your latest book SUCH IS LIFE. How did the idea of coming up with this book strike you?
“A book that weaves magic with words and seamlessly takes you through your own journey of life”
This book is a collection of 80 poems written over the last 25 years as I went through different phases of life capturing my emotions, feelings and at times frustrations and disappointments as well. Nothing in this book is pure imagination – every written word is a moment lived either by me or people close to me. They reflect my thoughts as a teenager aspiring to achieve great heights, to a forty-year-old who has accomplished most of his dreams. Interestingly, the flow is uninterrupted, this shows how our core remains the same. It’s only the physical that changes, the soul remains pure and virgin, residing in a body that keeps changing.
The poems are compiled in a thoughtful sequential manner mirroring the phases that we go through in life. The poems are categorized into 7 chapters:
- Dreams & Elixir of Life
- Dreams of a Lover
- The Love Story
- Betrayals & Heartache
- The Poet & The Poetry
- And Random Few – The Misfits
As for how the idea struck – it was always a dream to see my work published, this was always something that I wanted to get done but was never getting time to do…..given the busy corporate life. This book was born in an emotional conversation between me and my father – in a moment when I decided to listen to my heart and to my father, to start acting on something that I have been procrastinating for long. This time….it was now or never!
Ques: How do you manage your time between writing and work?
Rahul: When something is an integral part of life, one finds time for it on its own – one doesn’t have to make a special effort. Writing and poetry are an inseparable part of me – they define me and so does my work. I am passionate about my profession as well – Strategy is something I love.
I define myself as someone with two extremely different personalities – the philosophical, creative aspect on one hand, and the analytical mind on the other.
I constantly need intellectual as well as spiritual stimulation. This is what keeps me going, helps me relish moments, and live my life to the full.
When work is your passion, intellectual stimulation soothes your mind, and philosophical musings soothe your soul.
Ques: What is the greatest achievement of your life to date?
Rahul: Having been able to live life my way, on my terms and conditions – this has been my greatest achievement. I have been lucky enough to do whatever I wanted, whether it is expressing my thoughts into beautiful words, solving a complex business problem, or being with the loved ones when they needed me. This makes me a peaceful, satisfied person.
There is always a trade-off and a price to be paid but after all, we have just one Life – we need to live it our own way.
Ques: How would you describe the contemporary scenario of writing and reading around the world?
Rahul: I am fortunate to be living in an era where you don’t need to struggle to get yourself heard or read. There are ample avenues to attract your target audience. On the flip side, it has also led to too much content lying around, which makes it difficult to pick the right stuff. On one hand, there is some exceptional work being done by young writers breaking new grounds and the stereotypes. On the other hand, I see more frivolous and less serious writing around.
Globally, there is a resurgence of poetry. Performance poetry is gaining more ground. But, sadly, in India, we are still lagging on this front.
Ques: Which one do you like more – stories or poems? Why?
Rahul: Poetry will always be my first love. In stories, the author describes the characters and weaves a story around them which is a narration of instances that happened. Whereas in poetry, there is so much left unsaid, nothing is absolutely explicit – what one gathers and understands from it is completely dependent on the reader.
Poetry is evergreen – it never gets stale. There is always a new perspective and a new meaning to it. Poetry is always alive and kicking 🙂
Ques: Have you ever gotten a writer’s block?
Rahul: Of course Yes – not once, not twice but multiple times. There have been gaps of many years at times in which I have not written anything new. Poetry is different from prose. There are observations in day-to-day life, a thought comes and words start floating in the mind but one needs to sit in isolation, dig deep, connect with oneself and that’s when poetry flows. It’s like meditation. Now, how often do we get time to do all this in our daily rut. And the long hiatus gives rise to writer’s block.
Ques: What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
Rahul: I am more into non-fiction reading. In fiction, I like D.H. Lawrence among the classic writers and Milan Kundera. So, I would say ‘Sons & Lovers’ by D.H.Lawrence & ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Being’ by Milan Kundera are my favorite – not sure under-appreciated or not.
Ques: Which one is your favorite genre?
Rahul: Poetry & Philosophical Writings.
Ques: The best piece of writing advice you would like to give to the budding writers?
Rahul: I would like to repeat what Gulzar Saab says – ‘Karte ki vidya hai, Karne se aati hai’. Make a routine and write, write regularly, write whatever your heart tells you to write and write for yourself, not for someone else. Another thing is Read a lot….to write well, one needs to read a lot and be exposed to the different thought process and writing styles.
Ques: Do you read books? If yes, which one is most dear to you?
Rahul: Yes, I love reading. My all time favorite is ‘The Prophet’ by Kahlil Gibran – nothing comes close to this compact and most comprehensive philosophy of life expressed in poetry.
Ques: Are we going to read more from you in the near future? Any new project that you are working on?
Rahul: Yes, I hope so and soon enough. This time I don’t wait for another 20 years – I don’t have that much time. My mind is buzzing with quite a few ideas and let’s see which one sees the light of the day first. A Hindi poetry collection is surely something one can look forward to.
*We wish Rahul Nigam all the best for his future endeavors.*