“Empathy gives power to literature”: Jerry Pinto
December 4, 2019
ITANAGAR: The second edition of the Arunachal Literature Festival ended on Friday on a high note amidst calls for inculcating the reading habit among the younger generation so they may achieve greater success as writers.
Speaking at the closing ceremony of the event, noted writer Jerry Pinto aimed his speech to the school and college students who were present, saying that in their brains they have the greatest computer never built.
“Don’t let anyone tell you that you are stupid,” Pinto said in his impassionate speech at the DK Convention Centre here.
Citing the examples of scientists and philosophers, Pinto said that the difference lies in how much attention students give to their brain, stressing on the importance of exercising their minds on a daily basis.
“It is in your hands,” the writer said.
The award-winning author said that planting ideas is akin to planting a seed for a tree that will bear fruit in the future. He said he hoped to return to the state that has turned into a garden of ideas.
“Make Arunachal Pradesh a place which not only witnesses the country’s first dawn but also becomes a place for the dawn of ideas,” he said.
Pinto had earlier that day spoken of the struggles of writing and approaching the writing process during a conversation session.
In response to an audience question whether pain was helpful or an impediment to the writing process, Pinto said it was important to move beyond the hurt.
“When shit happens, you get stories. But if you write from a place of pain, you will get shitty stories,” he said, flaying his right arm as he sat on a couch.
The author of Em and the Big Hoom said that people must move past the pain to tell good stories.
Pinto also spoke about how his first book came to be called what it is, accidentally.
He had initially been signed up to write the book in 1998 but it wouldn’t be published until 2012.
In the plush DK Convention Centre, the venue for the festival, in the state capital, Pinto explained that he had a hard time thinking of a name for his debut novel and that ‘Em’ and ‘The Big Hoom’ were working titles, which is what the publishers went with.
He said he came to the conclusion that the title was karmic.
The author also donated books worth Rs 10,000 for Bamboosa Library, a community-run library operating in a small town called Tezu.
Pinto also expressed his solidarity with ongoing protests at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, and said that people must write in to the authorities to register their protests too.
Covering a wide variety of issues during his talk, the writer also said that conversations about mental health must be held openly in the country.
“We can’t keep losing people to mental illness because we are not talking about it,” he said, adding that empathy gives power to literature.
First published in The Citizen.
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