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‘A Bombay In My Beat’: Exploring Literary Journey Of Mrinalini Harchandrai

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Mrinalini Harchandrai is a poet and novelist based in Mumbai. Her maiden collection of poetry ‘A Bombay in My Beat’ explored the soundtrack of the city, personal cadences and jazz poetry. The Journal of Commonwealth Literature (2020) hailed the book as ‘references to jugalbandi and Hindustani Classical, musical compositions from Bach and others hem the poems making them a veritable treat for music and literature lovers alike’. Her unpublished novel manuscript was selected as Notable Entry for Disquiet International Literary Prize 2019 while her short fiction has also been critically praised and appreciated at some distinguished forums like Columbia Journal Spring 2020 and Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2018.

Born in Mumbai to an illustrious Sindhi family, Mrinalini Harchandrai started writing poetry in her school and later in college. Even after getting her verses published, she finds it odd to call herself a poet. ‘Even after my poetry book got published I still find it hard to apply the term poet to myself. I guess I think of myself as a writer, an umbrella term under which poet falls’. She was happy to learn that her book ‘A Bombay in My Heart’ received laudatory reviews and was warmly received. After earning laurels on his poetry, she switched to fiction and is busy giving final touches to her novel. So what suits her best? ‘Both suit me very well for different reasons. Poetry can be vast and sweeping or capture a miniscule moment. It lets me yoke concepts in fantastic ways and play with the essence of the language. Fiction, especially, novel allows me to roll out ideas architecturally, so that I can scale all aspects of a theme. I love the challenge it presents as well as the insights on the journey’. These days she is trying to find a suitable publisher for her upcoming novel that will be a ‘historical fiction with a coming of age story at its heart’.

 

In her literary journey she got influenced by a bevy of writers and that’s why she finds it difficult to name them all. However, recently she enjoyed the poetry of Tushar Jain and Medha Singh and the novels of Anuradha Singh, Anosh Irani and V.J James also kept her engaged. There is every likelihood that the novel will be something different and she seems destined to carve out her distinct path vis a vis her poetry and fiction. Additionally, she is going to dazzle with her poetry as well as fiction in the days to come.

Here is a poem from her book which will help readers to grasp the talent of Mrinalini Harchandrai. The poem graphically captures the agonies of the generations who had to leave their homes during the cataclysmic events of 1947.

Blood Ties with the Foes

History’s sense of humour

is a double helix in a twist

There is a border

created by gods

and gunfire

family stories, packed

with last-minute trunks

and earth-kissing farewells.

We will never see the rooms

in which our grandparents

played with tickling sunlight

orchards marked with footprints

from which they walked away.

Who knew if those who stayed

had our ancestors

lurking about their flesh.

Todays newspapers narrate

Stories of them and us

and grow enemies

out of our own roots.

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