Launch of Becoming Assiya by Simran Keshwani
Tuesday, February 21
Office Office, Janpath
Simran Keshwani, aged 20, and a Final Year Literature student at Lady Shri Ram College launched her first flagship literary work, Becoming Assiya. The event was compered by Mrs. Seema Keshwani, Simran's inspiration behind the text and mother, and originally a resident of the U.A.E., "a true daughter of War", as Simran recounts.
The chief guest of the day was Mr. Rajesh Goyal. With a vision of making lives better than earlier through employability training, Rajesh Goyal with his brother Ravinder Goyal founded the IACM Smart Learn Ltd. which is one of the most awarded and committed vocational training companies in India since 1997.
Rajesh for past several years has taken up an assignment of inspiring his world through his writings, messages and social media. His sole motto is to propel his world towards togetherness, peace, prosperity and real happiness. Today, he owns and runs over five hundred skill development and training centers all across India for the youth.
I have always believed that Human life is demarcated with thin fine lines between fear, conformity, hate, acceptance, and love. It is very hard to ascertain one from the other, and the graph which they lie on, that of an uncertain mortal life, very often throws them in together. They coalesce, they intermix. One little slip and we land on another end of the spectrum altogether. What is happening to the world today, is a narrative of Hate and Fear. To combat the Fear of the Unknown, we must extend a hand and know the Other. Somewhere between love and hate lies acceptance, and that is the toughest emotion humans can endure. Perhaps, that's what we have forgotten.
Becoming Assiya is the journey of a Syrian girl through the crevices of time and the ravages of war, in an attempt to find herself and regain her lost identity. What inspired me to embark on such a riveting and tense journey with my protagonist was a feeling that in times of collective tragedy and fear, what stands towering above Hate is Courage and Love. And those two can only come through conscious efforts. The Word is my catalyst. This is my conscious effort to throw an echo of acceptance and love into a World of Hate.", says the aspiring 20-year-old author to the trailblazing and enigmatic tale of Love, Identity, and Loss in the time of War.
When asked what inspired her to write about violence, when everybody else is moving towards softer themes, she recounts, "I remember my first tryst with War came rushing to my door in the form of a neat hardbound book with verses written in Urdu. We are all children of War, and my ancestors were landlords in Pakistan. They felt the horror of war at its face value, a horror no words could capture. When a woman's breast lay desecrated on the street and a child was beheaded in front of the mother, such was the gory horror that the Partition brought. The book I had found was my great grandmother's memoir of the War. It is the only childhood treasure I have known. I think, that book, even though I lacked the knowledge to interpret the loss entwined in its pages, screamed to something in my soul. We all carry the wounds of a distant past within our DNA. It is an inescapable fact, and it is up to us, the Children of the Present, to learn from the past, carry it along, but not repeat it."
"The past is always in a discordant love with the present. And it is up to us to unleash its secrets, and learn from it, not repeat it."
"Becoming Assiya is the story of a misplaced Syrian refugee and her trial with a past of Blood, wounds, War, Doubt and Hatred and the troublesome Hope of a better tomorrow. The woman's journey encompasses through the landscape of Wartime Syria, through her mother's journal and the rebuilding of a Post War identity for a land washed with blood, and what it meant to be alive, stuck in the middle with No Identity. Identity and Struggle, two complex concepts intermingle in this book and intersect at a common point, that of finding yourself.
It's been five years that the Syrian internecine began. The world shed tears while towns and cities bled to death. Now, what remains is mud and mortar while the world sleeps. Simran has been one of the lucky few to be able to firsthand understand the struggles of the people trapped inside War Torn areas, and their fight towards peace continues.
As a child, she recounts visiting her maternal home in the UAE, holding her mother's hand and asking her why the people there dressed differently than us. What she said was what the world has forgotten - it doesn't matter, they're human too. Becoming Assiya is a small attempt to capture Syria's moment of crumble and a look into the dystopian future we signed up for, where bullets replace lives.
Office Office, Janpath played venue partner to launch Simran's attempt at penning her thoughts around a critical subject. Co-working space by the afternoon and a quintessential nightlife spot by the night, Office Office provided a curtain raiser to its new menu, featuring Wasabi Pea and Potato Patti, Vegetable Skewers, Papad Paneer and Dal Makhani Aranci.