This podcast episode features a conversation with Tamil writer, activist, and politician Salma. Her life story is in itself an inspiration. Her writings describe the hardships Salma and countless women like her suffer in their secluded lives. Against all odds, and in a direct challenge to the traditions of her village, Salma has gone on to become a renowned Tamil poet and influential human rights activist.
The conversation today focusses on women, what freedom is for women, how to create the foundation of education, qualities a woman should aspire for, about writers who inspire Salma, her achievements in writing , thoughts on famous Tamil writers, reading recommendations and messages to women across various age groups.
About Salma :
Salma, grew up as a young Muslim girl in a South Indian village, was 13 years old, when her family shut her away for eight years, forbidding her to study and forcing her into marriage at 19. After her wedding her husband insisted she stay indoors. Salma was unable to venture outside for nearly two and a half decades. During that time, words became her salvation. She began covertly composing poems on scraps of paper, and, through an intricate system, smuggled them to the outside world.
At the age of 22, Salma wrote her first poem, Oppandham, as an outlet for her frustration and anger with her situation. Forced to hide her passion from her family, she would write while sitting on the toilet, on pieces of paper ripped from calendars and notebooks.She was subjected to abuse because of her desire to write and her family members would often destroy her work if they found it. Her mother eventually helped her by smuggling out poems from her home and getting them published in a Tamil weekly.
Her writings describe the hardships Salma and countless women like her suffer in their secluded lives. Against all odds, and in a direct challenge to the traditions of her village, Salma has gone on to become a renowned Tamil poet and influential human rights activist.
She has two novels, three poetry collections, one short story collection and an anthology of essays to her credit. Her debut novel, Irandam Jamankalin Kathai (Hour Past Midnight), was longlisted for awards and I cannot forget my experience of reading that book.
There is a film Salma that tries to portray her life and a book on the challenges of capturing her life in a documentary film. The documentary, which was screened in 2013, received several awards and was seen in eleven countries.