We had a great time reading all the entries of the ‘I Got Fired’ writing contest. The entries were many and the competition was tough. However, after great deliberation our judges have finally settled upon one entry which triumphed over all the others to rise as the winning entry of the contest. The winning entry is Subodh by Chirag Tulsiani.

Subodh by Chirag Tulsiani

Subodh is a story about how women, who are under-represented in the labour market, paid less, work more that too under dangerous conditions would react if they saw a machine which worked faster and better than all of them.

Editor’s note: While getting fired from a job can be difficult for anyone, no matter their class or their position in the company, losing a job is the hardest on someone without financial backup, with no family or friends to turn to, and with mouths to feed. In Subodh, the author presents this sentiment movingly, about women who lose their jobs in a garment factory to Subodh. But who is Subodh?


Read the winning story here.

Juggernaut had a little chat with Chirag about his work and his passion for writing.

Your story ‘Subodh’ is the winning entry of the contest. Please tell us more about it.

‘Subodh’ is the story of garment workers in a village in India who discover one morning that they have been replaced by a machine. The story is about how women, who are under-represented in the labour market, paid less, work more that too under dangerous conditions would react if they saw a machine which worked faster and better than all of them. It is about how they would come to terms with the fact that they are no longer needed in the factory.

What was the writing inspiration behind the story?

For some time now, I have been writing about India: past, present and future. I have been writing on the Partition, on the ‘New India’ we see today and an India set in the future. ‘Subodh’ is a story set in a future India.

I was actually about to leave writing but realised that there were some stories I had to tell before I called it a day and bowed out gracefully.

Subodh was one such story because … robots are going to replace humans. They are going to take away the jobs of millions of women. It is not only going to effect the women of India but Bangladesh, Vietnam, China and Indonesia as well. Now, I must say that I’m in favour of technology but why should anyone have to lose their job because of it? Many of these women are the sole earning members in their families. It’s not fair to them. Companies must look beyond profits and productivity.

I also wrote this story because I found a lack of female characters in my previous works and I really wanted to change that. The title ‘Subodh’ is inspired by the game, Le Téléphone Arabe or Chinese Whispers.

Do you have any particular rules or rituals you follow as a writer?

No, I don’t have any rules or rituals … does procrastination count? If so, then I procrastinate. That’s my only rule and ritual.

What/ Who is your writing companion? You know like coffee, tea etc.

Beef? I’m kidding. I love cows. In fact, I love them so much that if I was a painter, I’d paint them. If I was a sculptor, I’d sculpt them. If I was a politician, I would NOT use them to divide people in the name of religion.

Can’t the Constitution of India be my writing companion? Does it have to be a beverage? Wait a minute! The Constitution of India is my writing companion. I don’t know why but I’ve always wanted to say that: The Constitution of India is my writing companion.

What got you interested in becoming a writer? Where do you go for inspiration?

That’s a long story. I started writing when I was 17-18. I have been trying to establish myself as a writer ever since. Back then, I used to write short stories and haikus. But I also wrote poems, essays, a novella none of which got published.

It’s strange because I became a writer at a time when bookstores were shutting down in India. I became a writer at a time when writers were being murdered in India.

I don’t depend on inspiration, I depend on habit. I try and write a little everyday and I write because I don’t want anyone to look back twenty years from now and say that there was a time in this country when children were being raped, minorities were being attacked and individual freedoms were under threat and no one said a word or did anything about it. I write to not feel guilty. I write to absolve myself from the madness we are witnessing since 2014.

What’s that one piece written by you which is your all time favourite?

I don’t have any favourites but I must say that I enjoyed writing ‘The Trial of a Rat’ and ‘The Oath of a Dog’. I feel they are relevant to the times we are living in. At present, I am working on a novella called ‘Motherland!’ in which Gandhi, Nehru, Ambedkar, Bose, Bhagat Singh and Azad are all together in some part of the universe and debate as to who should be the one to go back and save India, rather Indian Democracy. I feel that ‘Motherland!’ could be my all time favourite.

Your all time best selling authors and books list. Why?

I’m a fan of Dostoyevsky and Chekhov. Their words resonate with me. I also like reading Gogol, Kafka, Manto, Murakami and Ha Jin. I love the flash fiction stories of Osama Alomar and Zakaria Tamer. I wanted to know of the stories which came out of war-torn Syria. That is how I discovered them.

I also believe that the real treasure of Indian literature lies in regional fiction. I read Vivek Shanbhag’s Ghachar Ghochar last year and liked it a lot. I have also read and loved the stories of Perumal Murugan and Ashokamitran.

Any writing tips you’d like to share with fellow writers?

Yes, of course. Don’t be a writer.

“Chirag Tulsiani is an unpublished writer in English. He has won no awards and his work has been translated into no languages. He does not eat beef. He is not from JNU. He loves the Indian Army but not India’s Troll Army. He does not wear patriotism on his sleeve. He wears sleeveless clothes.” This is how Chirag sums himself as an author and person.


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