Rajalakshmi Prithviraj is a military educationist and an air warrior by profession, a psychologist, psychotherapist, life coach and military strategist by qualification and a Veer Nari as well as a mother of two angelic kids in her personal life. She grew up in the Silver City of Odisha, Cuttack and considers herself to be an eternal child at heart
Tell us about the story behind your story Silence Under the Blue Sky.
Silence under the Blue Sky is a story that echoes the sentiments of every individual associated with a martyr. Silence represents the unspoken words of this clan and the Blue Sky symbolizes the Indian Air Force. Though the story revolves around one martyr’s family, it is a tribute to every wife whose husband dies while serving his first love – our motherland. It is a toast to the spirit of every child who is forced to grow wise beyond his or her years due to the sudden and eternal absence of a father. The story also attempts to serve as an inspiration to Veer Naaris (War Widows) that life does not end with a death in the family. It symbolizes a new beginning. It also attempts to bring out that love is eternal.
Tell us a little bit about the book and the person who inspired its creation.
The book attempts to bring out every single detail associated with the trauma that the protagonist goes through. It’s about her pain, the way she deals with the news of her husband’s death. This is a true story, hence, every single element is true and all the characters are alive. Therefore, names have been changed to protect their identities. The person who inspired me to create this story is my husband, Late Squadron Leader V Manoj. To be honest, this is our story, narrated verbatim, exactly the way things happened on that ill-fated day of 30th August 2012 in a nondescript place in India.
Has your background in psychology aided your writing and characterization ability?
Honestly speaking, I didn’t use my background in psychology to write this story. It is a chapter from my life book. So I narrated each and everything exactly as it happened. There was no exaggeration, no distortion. The only fictional element is the futuristic narration. However, as things are progressing in my life, I am sure, it will be a reality soon. Writing this story was my first step towards inner peace.
What is your take about the literature available in India about the Air Force?
The literature currently available all revolve around operations and autobiographies. Personal narratives are also available as parts of anthologies. However, the genre of military reality fiction, especially related to the Indian Air Force, is still limited.
When you narrate a real-life incident, what kind of caution do you take? What kind of advice do you have to share with writers who are struggling to write stories about their own lives?
While narrating a real-life incident, the most important thing is to protect the identity of characters who exist in real life. In my case, the story involves men and women in uniform and hence their true identities cannot be disclosed. However, the people I’ve mentioned are aware of which character represents them. My only advice to writers struggling to write about their lives is to write from your heart. The moment you start visualizing the incident, start writing about it first. The editing can happen later. When you write from your heart, your words have the power to touch the innermost corners of the reader’s soul. Also, it is important not to stick to one phase or one incident only, unless it is the very theme.
Every individual’s life is a unique story in itself. Hence, as a writer, it is important to identify which portion needs to be written about. One more thing, our life book has chapters that are happy, sad, bitter, memorable, embarrassing, painful and the like. It is important to choose portions that do not hurt anybody. We all may be negative characters in somebody’s life story, right?
Tell us about writing as therapy.
Writing is therapeutic for sure. In my case, it helped ease my pain. So I would definitely recommend writing as a tool to get over the trauma, deal with pain and attain inner peace. Words have a power of their own. While writing helps to pour out feeling, reading the same brings out a calming effect, like a catharsis. For me, writing my story has been the therapy I had been wanting to undergo. The loss of a loved one is painful for sure and when there is no scope to mourn in the initial stages, this bottled up pain can be really harmful for the psyche. In case anybody is unfortunate enough to undergo this kind of trauma, I would recommend writing for sure. Penning down feelings is like giving an outlet to pent up emotions.
Tell us about your experience with self-publishing.
I didn’t want to give away the ownership of my story to traditional publishers, not because of fear of rejection but more because the story is my life story and I didn’t want to give away its rights to anybody. Hence, I went the self-publishing way via Pothicom, a self-publishing platform in India, and it has been an amazing experience. Pothi.com has a simple dashboard and an uploading process that is a blessing in disguise for technically challenged people like me. Also, the team is really very friendly and responsive. The writer in me is really happy because self-publishing gave me the opportunity to share my story with the world without the hassle of losing my rights over it.
Your favorite fiction.
My favorite writers are Thomas Hardy, Harper Lee and Pearl S Buck. I have grown up reading To Kill A Mocking Bird, The Mayor of Casterbridge and The Townsman; these three are my all-time favorites. I love Mitch Albom’s writings and stories by Nicholas Sparks as well. Gone with the Wind is yet another story I love to read again and again. The stories that always bring out the child in me are those by Enid Blyton. I can spend hours reading the adventures of the Famous Five and Secret Seven or vanish into the Magical forest atop the Faraway tree or enjoy the ride of my life on the Wishing Chair.
Your future projects.
My future projects include writing more stories in the Under the Blue Sky series that would bring out different facets of the life of air warriors. Again, all reality fictions for sure. I am also penning poetry, especially couplets. So those are in the pipeline as well. I am also working on two non-fiction writing projects at the moment. So right now, the writer in me is busy juggling time with the professional and the mother in me.
Thank you Rajalakshmi, it was such a pleasure talking to you! Look forward to your future work!