Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Harihar Panda author of Godhuli.
Thank you for agreeing to this interview.
Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I was born in a landlord’s family in Odisha in the year 1932. It was a momentous period in the Indian history when the nationalist movement was gaining unprecedented momentum. I too lived through the horrors and devastation of the Second World War. I witnessed the dawn of Indian independence as well as the collapse of the Zamindari system which thrived and sustained the British rule in India for over two centuries.
How do you view the present India as a person who had been in service?
Though I was born to be a master eventually I ended as a public servant and this reversal of role was a welcome release for me from a cloistered life of exclusiveness and sham respectability which I had to live in my childhood as the heir apparent to the mighty landlord. Public service is an essential profession on whose efficiency and integrity the progress and prosperity of India depends. It often grieves me to see even after six decades of independence there is still a propensity to rule rather than to serve.
Tell us about your journey in the literary journal? What is the name of the journal.
My wife who was a prolific writer in Odisha founded and edited a monthly literary magazine in Odia language, named ‘ Sucharita’. After my exit from Government service I took over the entire management of the publication leaving my wife to concentrate on the literary aspect of the journal more effectively.
Please give a brief sneak peek about Godhuli
Godhuli is a nostalgic recollection of my childhood days as the son of a Zamindar. It gives a vivid picture of a socio-economic system that was considered so essential in an alien rule in India and of course so irrelevant in a modern democratic State that India is now.
How was it to be treated as Zamindar’s son?
In the past it was a pride to be born in a Zamindar’s family. Certain values such as discipline, decorum and a sense of dignity were inculcated into the life of a Zamindar’s son from the very birth. It is true that some Zamindars were capricious and a few were despotic, but there were many positive examples. I was lucky to be born to a Zamindar, who was whimsical, but was paternalistic to the tenants in hours of need.
When did you decide to write the auto biographical account?
My grand children used to demand persistently that I must tell them stories of my childhood. While narrating certain incidents and events of my childhood days I could perceive their utter disbelief in the veracity of the story. Suddenly it struck me that the stark reality of the past is certainly degenerating into a fantasy and I I decided to recreate the lost glory of the past so that history must not die.
Which writers inspire you?
From my childhood I was an avid reader of world classics of which my father had a rich collection. I loved the writings of great literary masters. My only hobby in life has been reading and writing.
So, what have you written?
After Godhuli, I am now working on a mythological novel.
How was your publishing journey?
I am fortunate that the manuscript of Godhuli was accepted by the first publisher I approached. They were cordial and cooperative.
What is your favourite motivational phrase.
Let not history be lost in oblivion.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Listen to all, but act yourself.
Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included?
I would like my elderly readers to rediscover themselves while reading Godhuli and the younger ones to be amused and thrilled.
How can readers discover more about you and you work?
By personal contact of course.
Thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview.