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  • Writer's pictureAva Chen

Interview with Shrutidhora Mohor: Issue 2 Featured Contributor

“‘A traveler without a destination.’

‘Oh, then he must be a dreamer.’”

-"Long Live," Shrutidhora Mohor

In “Long Live,” Shrutidhora Mohor takes readers into a family home with an ill mother and introspective father, portraying a routine night with the intersections of past with present, rife with memory and nostalgia. We were immediately entranced by the wanderlust and emotional resonance of Mohor’s prose, and we’re so excited to feature Mohor as our prose contributor interview from Issue II. Like the traveler in “Long Live,” Mohor wanders and wonders, exploring the cultural inspirations behind this piece as well as how her own story profoundly intersects with its messages. We hope you enjoy Mohor's story!

Read "Long Live" here.

Why did you first start writing fiction? How has your writing journey evolved over time?

Although I have been writing in a scattered manner for years now, my writing journey began, properly speaking, in September 2010, in the form of a therapy that I badly needed then to soothe my anxious and torn soul. I wrote my first novel over two years, decided not to publish it, and told myself and all my friends that I had no other story left within me and hence I would not be required to write again.

The journey seemed to have come to a stop.

I rediscovered writing within myself in early 2018, this time with short stories, as I found friends who mentored me into the literary world. I wrote a few short stories and got published for the first time in print in November 2019.

Since early 2022, I have been learning to write flash fiction and micro fiction.

I have, at present, several works in progress, most of them novels, and I hope to get back to finishing them soon.

Fiction, increasingly so, has become the reality for me. I live in it, I live off it. I see no other truth apart from the truth that stories contain. By now, my life is a story, not always with the most desirable consequences though, and I live my life like a story. Fiction makes my life meaningful and full. It gives me lightness and profundity all at once.

How would you describe your unique writing style, and the themes you typically write about?

In terms of themes, I had started as a romance writer and romantic relationships used to be a central part of my first few writings. However I found myself being drawn towards a whole range of other relationships over time and began exploring these nuances along with sensitive issues like loss, longing, yearning, betrayal, loyalty/ disloyalty, death, life and so on. Many of my stories revolve around same-sex relationships, and a particular gay couple have been my muse in several stories. I am drawn towards exploring social science themes in my stories, like identity, homelessness/ home, borders, migration, language(s), fluidity, multiverses, multicultural settings and such others.

My writing style is pretty disorganised in terms of the structure of the story. I write any part of the story and then connect several parts as I proceed. I find linear writing difficult. I generally edit as I write, with of course a final round of editing done before completion.

Describe what your dreamlike, touching piece “Long Live” is about. What inspired you to write this piece?

‘Long Live’ is a story of the simultaneity of life and death. It is poised on the cusp of a dream, threading the imminent passing away of a person with the eternal call to life that continues after the death of an individual. So, as a person (the mother in the story) lies on her death bed, waiting to make the final passage out of this world, there goes about a dream-like life outside the patient’s room. The haziness of life and life after death blends when a passing character, seemingly odd and a stranger to this family, passes by with a call for revolution (‘long live revolution’ has been a powerfully resonant call for life and changes in the human condition all over the world; in India the political slogan has been ‘inquilab zindaabaad’). His unreality is the point of the story here: he is probably only a dream.

This story was inspired by a young friend of mine, two decades junior to me, whose commitment to revolution, in the widest possible sense of a change for the better, remains a strikingly inspiring fact for me. My faith in dreams and his revolution come together in this story, after we spent a good amount of time in our lives living dreams of revolution.

How was the process of writing “Long Live”? What was your favorite part, and perhaps challenges you faced during this process?

It was a story written in one session. I remember writing it at one go, from the beginning to the end, and then of course the fine changes made to it. But it is also a story which required few final changes. It was almost a finished story before it was written. The major challenge was to keep its surrealism intact.

The most favourite part was, although I am bad at picking favourite parts of my writing, where the father and the daughter discuss dreams in the middle of the night. I found the words coming on their own.

What would you say is the meaning of your title “Long Live”?

As I said, ‘long live revolution’ has been a powerfully resonant call for life and changes in the human condition all over the world, an indispensable part of socialist movements, especially the Marxist varieties; in India the political slogan has been ‘inquilab zindaabaad’ for leftist political parties and Marxist movements. Moreover, in India, the tradition is to bless a junior person with these words (‘long live’, meaning ‘may you have a long life’) when he/ she touches the feet of an older person, given the hierarchical nature of social spaces in India.

In this story the dual senses of the phrase are invoked which are meant to add layers to the juxtaposition of life and death. The faith in human life symbolised by revolutions and dreams, and the passing away of life at the same time come together in this phrase. The cycle of life looms large in the story.

The idea that a traveler with no destination cannot become lost seems to be a central message in your piece. What does this mean to you? How does wandering, being a dreamer, connect with your writing style, the subjects of your writing, and/or your life?

One of my most favourite pastimes is to go on indefinitely planned long drives or long walks, and find places, discover points, meet realities hitherto unknown or unplanned. Dreams are my existential reality, threatening to upset my professional life often with my ability to get lost in the middle of meetings and through boring, unhelpful monologues. Much of my life is about journeys without a telos; a movement without a destination. I instinctively prefer open-ended, unstructured pathways, mazes which unravel with time, relationships which realise themselves only as they unfold.

The metaphor of the traveller without a destination serves to convey this message in the story Long Live.

Anything else you would like to add about “Long Live,” or your writing in general?

Nothing much really except for my infinite gratitude to the editorial team here for finding so much to love in my story whose fragility is precisely the point that needed the care of a literary magazine.

Thank you so much for providing it a home.

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