Mission Delhi – Payal Singhal, Connaught Place
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Some good folk just can’t leave the house without a book tucked away in the rucksack. That’s the way it is.
Take the case of Payal Singhal, who readily confesses falling into this category. For years she’s lived happily with English classics like the Bronté sisters, and particularly Charlotte Bronté’s Jane Eyre.
Then something happened. Last year–she tells The Delhi Walla in Connaught Place– “I was browsing around a book stall and happened upon Rabindranath Tagore’s novel Chokher Bali in English translation.”
She snapped it up immediately.
It’s the very first novel written by an Indian author this 25-year-old has devoured as part of her pleasure reading. “And of course I then realized that the world created in the English classics isn’t really about my culture. Even when their writing touches you, you cannot relate it to the society around you.”
As an editorial researcher at a publishing house, Ms Singhal notes that “so much in our society is still the same as in Tagore’s day. Especially when it comes to women.”
So, now journeying into the writers of her land, she happily pleads guilty to a reading binge of native novelists, having just finished an Anuja Chauhan. Her next pick is Intizar Husain’s The Sea Lies Ahead.
Ms Singhal pauses for a moment, then adds: “But of course I’ll always be re-reading Jane Eyre… that’s the book that first made me a feminist.”
[This is the 171st portrait of Mission Delhi project]
The confessions of a Jane Eyre fanatic