A Quaint Love Affair with Writing- In Conversation with Huma Tanweer

Nothing lasts forever. It is one of the foremost laws of nature. No matter how tightly one holds onto people or even things, no matter how much we crave their presence, things break, people leave, eventually everything dissolves into the oblivion, reminisced only by the bittersweet feeling of nostalgia. However, persistence is human nature and we, the most tenacious of all species have developed ways to find a loophole in the most rigid of all laws. We like to preserve- to create things that last in order to give us a sense of meaning in our fleeting mortal lives.

Art promises us forever. This is one of the reasons why the love an artist has for their art is something that is considered pure, untarnished, almost sacred. Every form of art has this, if I may, magic, that takes place of a significant being all the while providing love, meaning, maybe more to its creator. It is the one thing in our transient world that may sometimes flicker but is present evermore.

Huma Tanweer, a popular Indian writer, an impulsive poet, and a motivational speaker is one such artist who has found her true love in writing. Apart from writing books, she also writes short verses of poetry. At nineteen years of age, she became the youngest international author to have signed a two-book deal with Lambert Publishing House, Germany.

Voicing her thoughts through beautiful verses, she has captivated the unwavering attention of many. Churning moments from her past coloured by the fragrance of nostalgia, she writes compositions that would leave you sitting on your bed staring at the wall for hours on end. From feminism to self-love stretching all the way to instances where we find ourselves unloved or forgotten, her writings come as a comforting truth to prove to you that you are not alone or in the words of Huma herself, you are “still a person even if you’ve forgotten how to live.”

Huma Tanweer, the fierce, brave woman has the power to move the entire audience with her words, which are as powerful as her personality. Is she the same in real life too? We discovered her other side, which she often describes her different personality, Huma, in a talk with The Kashmir Radar’s online editor Umran Hussain.

Huma describes herself as a ‘well-read threat’ who loves to write, read, and travel. She reads a lot, anytime of the day. Since she studied literature, she states she didn’t have a choice but to read.

When asked about how she passed her time during the lockdown in India due to the coronavirus scare, Huma admits she missed the traveling. Being an introvert, she thought the lockdown period would go smoothly, but unfortunately, that’s not what has happened till now.

Poetry and Writing:

Everything that reminds me of my pain, heals me a little. [This is how poetry works] ~Huma Tanweer.

All her readers know how Huma likes to pepper her poetry and writings with historical information and metaphors. On being asked how she embarks on the journey of writing a new piece, she replies that she always begins with her ending line, which is the punch to her writing. Her ending lines are her trademark, and knowing the end guides her so that she doesn’t lose track of her plot.

It’s like knowing the destination to follow the creative journey. She writes when a thought strikes. It can be when she’s talking to a friend, crossing the road, or even when she hears “the price of a potato sack” has increased. She jots it down or maybe wholly forgets about it. She remembers a piece she read five years ago and then “connects the dots” to the article she is currently writing. A lot of research goes behind when she writes a piece, and if not satisfied, it ends up in the bin. Well, that’s how writers are right!!

I asked her as to how it all started for her. She says she had wild imagination since she was a child, but her writing has evolved with her. She tells how she thinks her writing is bad when she goes through her old works, but then as an artist, she feels “it’s okay not to like your past writings.” She has also written a book on women entrepreneurship and feminism, and the audience has loved it, and she believes as a twenty-year-old girl, she did a great job then, but she can never go back to that stage.

She also talks about how the current generation has made liking something popular a thing to be frowned upon. She thinks the elitism is coming back in a bad manner and she feels it’s perfectly fine in listening to Taylor Swift or reading books like Twilight or 50 shades of Grey. She finds that it is ridiculous that people should not like the popular culture to think they are interesting, or they have a better taste. She feels okay to be a “boring person” and laughs.

Magical realism and surrealism:

The antidote to loneliness,

is not an invitation to a room full of people

it is the remedy

you find in conversations

when feel your mouth overflow

and hear your voice

just to remember

you occupy space

for loneliness

Demands nothing more

than to be acknowledged

for loneliness demands nothing more

than to be felt in the bones

Huma wrote in a way where her head was in the cloud and feet on the ground, filled with metaphors, a thin line between two worlds of reality and magic. She never knew about those forms until her editor pointed it out to her. That’s how she came to know about these forms of writing. She was a fan of Sylvia Plath and was into the surrealist form of writing.

I asked her who would she like to meet – Sylvia Plath or Frida Kahlo? She chuckles and says she is already in murky waters to choose between one, but she would go with Sylvia and maybe go out for a coffee and spend time with her knowing her thoughts and ideas.

“It’s reality, but also there’s so much of imagination. It’s like you walking inside a magical technicolor dream. That’s how my life is, and that’s how I see. My perspective is very, let’s say, weird, but beautiful, like, magical.”

The readers, writer, and writings:

Replying to the question where the author’s intentions should be exactly interpreted by the readers, Huma replies that it matters to her because she puts up a piece in which she expresses her emotions and anger. If the readers don’t understand what she meant, then it defeats the whole purpose.

She feels if she has to explain what she wrote, then it loses all its beauty. But on the other hand, art is for all, everyone has their interpretations of art, and it doesn’t belong to anyone.

“On the other hand, we belong to the art “. She refers it to the “Death of the artist,” and when she creates Art, it is out there as Art. She also becomes a “reader to her writing.”

Huma also doesn’t believe that “from the broken heart comes to the best poetry.” She says that we have over-glorified broken hearts, and it necessarily doesn’t need a broken heart to curate good poetry or writing.

Broken hearts have been the mentor for many, and you can create beautiful art when you’re depressed because that’s when all the strong and raw emotions come out, but you can create beautiful art when you are not. Poetry is about intense emotion, which can be both positive and negative.

Any kind of intense emotion can translate the true overwhelming happiness or gut-wrenching grief or extreme anger or whatever. As long as you feel strongly, you will write very beautifully. I don’t see why we need to romanticize the whole tragic Art and Artist.”

Alter Ego and Characterization in Art:

Answering the question, can an author dislocate the self with Art, and does her persona go into her writing? she affirms that “whenever you write, fiction or nonfiction is extremely autobiographical.” She believes that everything comes from personal experience in one way or the other, and it reflects in your writing unconsciously. “Your story and poem can only make sense when a small part of you seeps into it through small-small personal experiences that shaped your personality.”

“Because, you know, whenever you write, fiction or nonfiction, it is extremely autobiographical. It is because you know, we might not even be conscious about that process, but you do end up putting a small part of yourself in your Art, and nothing is apolitical, and everything comes from personal experience.”

Huma and Huma Tanweer are different entities as Huma Tanweer is the person who speaks as a motivational speaker, writes poetry and books. Still, Huma is just a Potterhead (House Ravenclaw) who is introverted, watching rom-com movies while sipping her Irish coffee with her favorite Italian dish alongside. But Huma Tanweer, her alter ego is brave, outward and speaks her mind and was created because of the kind of poetry she writes, the angry feminist, or the heartbreak poetry.

But she is more to it and she feels it’s just a part of her which is being consumed by the readers. Sometimes she feels she is in an identity crisis where the expectation and reality are different!
Huma and Huma Tanweer are so different that her friends state that Huma is “employed under Huma Tanweer,” she says and chuckles.

Traveling and mental health:

How does Huma travel? That’s what I asked her next.
She loves to travel. Her eyes light up when asked about her favorite place she traveled in India. She likes to travel light and likes to do spontaneous trips. The one thing she learned during one of her travels is never to plan a long or back-to-back traveling as it can get you exhausted – and you might fall sick and not enjoy the place. She likes to talk to the locals and be a localite rather than a tourist when she visits a place.

The beauty of traveling on foot hits differently altogether. She smiles and remembers her trip to Uttarakhand, which was her much needed yet most fun-filled trip. She laughs remembering the memories. For her traveling to a place means to transform herself into a person who lives there and enjoy the simple yet beautiful things which these touristy spots don’t provide.

Huma talks about mental health being trivialized these days. People compare this generation to older generations and trivialize the fact that everyone is depressed in this generation. The older generation claims to have faced lot more problems while not complaining of depression but she believes no one has the right to decide who should undergo depression and who shouldn’t as those days it was a topic which was not talked about openly and people are coming out about this in the current generation.

Huma says you can suffer from depression which can be hormonal or can be from a trauma. People need to stop judging or comparing their lives to decide they should have depression or not. This is just victim-blaming which needs to stop.

We are the generation we need. It’s not something to be proud of, but I believe that our battle scars are just as big and just as important!”

Huma answers the hypothetical question:

To the question, what would Huma do if she wakes up 100 years ahead of and finds herself in a world dominated with science and no space for literature and Art? she takes her time and answers in a very simple yet effective way. She says literature started orally, so she would use the same way to spread Art and literature orally using the technology.

She talks about how this generation is very impatient, and their attention span very short. We scroll Instagram at a crazy speed, skipping long paragraphs – yet, who doesn’t like to hear stories and poems.

Achievement as an author:

She says she was never about the big things like going on the biggest stage or getting nominated for awards. She never saw it as a milestone to cross. It was always about how her writing helped others survive something. She quotes “writing comforts the disturbed and disturbs the comfortable”. She feels when her writing achieves the same, to connect and relate with somebody else, she feels achieved.

To carry the extra baggage of someone through her writing, a raw, strong emotion which you might not know what you are feeling but the moment you read a similar thing and feel that you might not even know them but can relate to them, she feels she has achieved to take away the baggage they carried. There are moments where people come up to her and tell her she saved their lives through her writing, that’s when she knows her purpose has fulfilled.

She feels her book, ‘He Loved Me Enough To Let Me Go’ as the favorite book she has written as she has received a lot of audience responses to the book. They have expressed how they have loved the book, which makes her feel that as an author she has been able to connect to the people and even as an audience to her own book, she feels some of the parts are really beautiful and she would not go back and change anything in it.

Huma Tanweer is an amazing concoction of words, emotions, and magic. She has the power to move people with her words and wild, magical imagination, and that’s what the world lacks somewhere, which makes her unique!
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