Love in the time of Quarantine: Author Siddhartha Gigoo writes an e-book in 21 days
Coinciding with the national lockdown announcement due to the spread of COVID-19 pandemic, acclaimed novelist and filmmaker Siddhartha Gigoo took up a self-initiated challenge to write a book, in a seldom heard of time frame for such an undertaking — 21 days.
On March 24, 2020, as the movement of people across the country was restricted to fight the coronavirus pandemic, the lockdown period gave a reason to Gigoo to pen ‘Love in the Time of Quarantine’, a book about two lovers and a homeless family, the plot for which is set amidst the lockdown.
In an exclusive interview with YSWeekender, Siddhartha speaks about how he went about writing the book and how creativity can flow during the lockdown for artists and writers...
Love and separation
Siddhartha Gigoo's new book, 'Love in the time of Quarantine'
"I think when we were a day or two into the lockdown that I posted on my Instagram handle about writing a book in 21 days. In hindsight, the whole idea seemed ambitious, yet I wanted to give it a try. More so, considering most of our waking time for the upcoming days would be spent glued to our various electronic devices," shares Siddhartha, winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2015 for his story, The Umbrella Man.
The e-book, ‘Love in the Time of Quarantine’, will be available for readers online from April 20 onwards on Amazon. The plot of the book revolves around two lovers and spans 30 days of their separation following the lockdown.
A parallel story also unfolds, of a homeless family impacted by the lockdown. "My e-book tells the story of the privilege of the lovers, who have the luxury to stay apart, and the misfortune of the homeless family who are told by the authorities to stay separate," shares Siddhartha about the mainstay of the story.
Multiple points of view
Elaborating further, he reveals, "This book, written from multiple points of view, will change our perspective towards life. There is a girl, all of seven or eight years who spent her entire life on the streets, and she doesn't know what is happening around her post lockdown, and she is speaking with her father. I imagined what her father would have to say to her.”
Short films and stories
Siddhartha Gigoo has brought out short films as well
Siddhartha is a natural storyteller who not only uses the pen as medium to tell his stories and express his creativity, but also takes them to a larger audience by the way of short films. His films ‘The Last Day’ and ‘Goodbye, Mayfly’ are both set against the backdrop of Kashmir exploring the exodus and exile of Kashmiri Pandits from their homeland and the meaning of growing up and living in a conflict zone respectively.
He was impacted by this as he grew up in Kashmir at the peak of insurgency in the 1980s and had to leave behind a home in the valley for a life in a refugee camp.
A new world
Siddhartha shares further about the genesis of the story in his mind and says, "It was the janata curfew day, a strange day — the markets were closed, the streets were deserted and not a soul was out there. My thoughts wandered to the people on the streets with whom I would interact every day. Like the rickshaw pullers Chotu and Pintu who would ferry me to and fro the metro station or the little girl at the crossing who would expect an apple or a cool drink bottle that I would give her. These and many more people have simply vanished. Then I read about the mass migration that was happening and came across the disturbing visuals that were being circulated, and I instantly knew I wanted to tell a story."
The Lion of Kashmir
A seasoned writer, Gigoo feels ‘Love in the Time of Quarantine’ wouldn’t have been penned if there was no lockdown. He wrapped up his last book, ‘The Lion of Kashmir’, which was published by Rupa Publications in December 2019.
"I wanted to take a break before resuming writing a book that I was already working on for the past two years, when the COVID pandemic had the world in its grip,” tells Gigoo, about his pre-COVID plans and how they got altered.
The writer, who got an honourable mention in the prestigious 38th Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition 2018, for his short story 'The Christmas Dinner', explains his modus operandi of writing and shares, “With my day job with a tech major and a long daily commute, I take it easy while writing. On some days, I manage to write merely a paragraph, or half a page, and if I am lucky, a full page. In no way I could have imagined having ever written a book so fast.”
Creativity and power
Interestingly the cover of the e-book 'Love in the Time of Quarantine’ was designed in-house by his talented young daughter, Amia. "While writing this book, I was thinking of the novelist Kazuo Ishiguro, an inspiration who wrote ‘The Remains of the Day’ in a month’s time. He did not step out of his home except for his meals and went on to win the Booker prize. The book has no autobiographical references, though," adds Siddhartha.
In these testing times, many creative artists across genres such as writers, filmmakers, chefs and stand-up comedians are finding new and more tech-savvy ways to keep us calm in these troubled times. May their tribe grow!
(Banner pic: Courtesy: Shutterstock- for representation only)