EPOW Sajita
Juggernaut’s Editor’s Pick of the Week is The Army Officer’s Wife by Sajita Nair.

The Army Officer’s wife is the story of a pregnant woman who waits longingly for her husband to break the good news to him. But then he meets an accident. Would he survive to hear the news? Read the story here.

Belonging to an army background, and serving as an army officer herself, Sajita Nair’s writing touches various facets of armed forces, usually told through the voice of a loved one. She was one of the first woman officers to be commissioned in the Indian army. She is a TEDx speaker and is currently based in Bengaluru.

  • You recently wrote The Army Officer’s Wife for us. Did the recent events inspire you to write it?

Having been an Air Force daughter, Naval wife and an Army officer myself, I have seen the various hues of life in the armed forces and it is not restricted to any specific time. While the officer in uniform is celebrated, hardly has anyone delved into the psyche of the spouse, who quietly embraces uncertainty, pain and anxiety.  This story, which forms part of the military romance series, is my attempt at understanding her, the woman who kisses her man goodbye – as he adorns his uniform and goes to perform his duty towards the nation – unsure of whether he will return for dinner.

  • You were an army officer yourself. How did you decide to become a writer?

When posted in remote locations during my tenure in the army, I enjoyed reading books stocked in old cantonment libraries. Inspired by these, I wrote unusually long letters to friends and family, describing the places, my work routine and the challenges it posed (this was the pre-email era). I realised that I enjoyed the process and hence writing professionally came as a natural progression when I gathered a plethora of experiences in the army as one of the pioneers. I began with publishing smaller articles, travelogues and essays before attempting a full length novel.

  • From all of your published work, which one is your favourite and why?

My favourite is ‘She’s a Jolly Good Fellow’. I feel that I have done justice to the character of a greenhorn woman army officer, who goes through many tribulations to be accepted in an all-male workforce. The film right of the book has recently been optioned to a reputed production house and I hope it translates well onscreen.

  • What inspires you to write? Do you follow a schedule to write?

Words are a powerful medium to inform, inspire and entertain. I write because of the urge to reach out to people and connect with them through my stories, characters and experiences.

I try to follow a schedule, although I could work towards disciplining myself a little more. Some days are productive while the others are spent with my fictional characters in my mindscape.

  • Who are your favourite authors? Which of their work makes it to your list and why?

I have enjoyed reading JM Coetzee, Haruki Murakami, Jodi Picoult and Amitav Ghosh. Disgrace by JM Coetzee stands out for its exploration of neo-racism in post-apartheid South Africa. Kafka on the Shore, for its metaphysical aspects and remarkable storytelling by Murakami, Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult, for everything I learnt about pachyderms and The Hungry Tide by Amitav Ghosh, for bringing out the beauty of the Sunderbans, enmeshed in the lives of its characters.

  • What keeps you engaged apart from writing?

Apart from writing, I undertake speaking assignments and training programs at educational institutions and corporate houses. I also enjoy travelling with my family, especially long road trips.

  • Tell us about your next work.

My upcoming novel is set in the Malabar region of Kerala and follows the decline of a glorious tharavad (ancestral house), as the society transitions from Maru-makka-thayam (inheritance through nephews and nieces followed among Nairs) to the modern day nuclear family. The manuscript is complete but needs to be polished before I can approach publishers.

  • Any advice for the budding authors?

  If you love writing, keep at it, despite the rejections, criticism and self doubts. I have been inspired by this quote and hope that it guides you in your writing career as well.

‘If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it’ – Toni Morrison


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