This 17-year-old published poetess, is also a professional Kathak dancer, national-level debater, international level MUNer, and a budding filmmaker. She is the author of her book ‘If Life Wore Polka Dots’ published by Partridge India. “It is a funny thing to say for a 17-year-old, but truly, so much of life has led to this book’. These inaugural words in my book’s acknowledgment summarize my polka-dotted journey to and through this book. I am Heer and I am a 17- year -old published poetess. Coming from a long lineage of professors of English literature, writers, and poets, one may understand my affinity to write, an obvious biological phenomenon, but in fact, my words and I have had a dramatic and sinuous journey over the years.
I don’t recall a time I didn’t write. But I do remember listening to stories that my mother ever-so-passionately read to my child-self at night. I recall falling in love with characters like Pollyanna and the words that made them come alive. Renting movies from a neighborhood store with my father, and witnessing words morph into breathing beings far beyond the horizon of papyrus. And for that very reason, unlike most writers, my logophilia is a multi-hued blend of the worlds of cinema and literature.
Over the years, as I would enter libraries and bookstores, I would look at the infinite ocean of books laid out, and I would think to myself, ‘Someday, it will be my book up there. In spite of my consistent passion for writing, like any Shakespearean hero, I too have an unfortunate hamartia. Considering the two incomplete novels and uncountable rejected poems locked away in the abyss of my laptop, I am forced to admit that the one thing that has delayed this book by years, is my harsh self-criticism. As I woke up one morning to the maddening realization that I am months away from adulthood, a long-since avoided train of thought arrived with a screeching stop. It was high time, I had to complete a book.
As I flipped through every poem I had ever written in my lifetime, I was mighty confused. There were recently penned ones that I approved of, childish ones I wished I could delete, and several that brought back colorful memories. Like many, 2020 was a year of self-acceptance to me. I realized that my poems were imperfect because so is life. But thankfully, through all my ups and downs, I have had words by my side. And that is worth celebrating. Hence, I welcomed all my embarrassing, angry, happy, and sad poems to the pages of this book. I decided to ink away, all of me.
Half a month later, my parents and I sat together, thinking of all possible names for the book. Most options sounded fancy and philosophical- basically every anthology’s name. I kept repeating to them annoyingly, ‘It doesn’t sound like my book’. Exhausted, we thought we had left no stone unturned, and that’s when a name left me with a laugh, ‘If Life Wore Polka Dots’. That was it. Not only did the name grace the cover of the book, but also inspired a poem within it. When explaining someone the title, I always recite the last verse of the poem,
“Life teaches you to smile your way,
Through the dull checks and stripes.
But trust me, it would get real boring,
If life wore polka dots all the time!”
As I mentally approved the manuscript of the book before me, it was time to hunt down a publisher. With my head in the clouds and no clue of how the writing business works, I approached the publishers I had read the most, Penguin. After hopefully waiting for their reply to my e-mail for over two weeks, I understood that much more ink must be under a name for that to happen. Even then, I was not a tinge discouraged. Moving on from penguin, I settled someplace still close enough, a Partridge. Partridge India, a collaboration of Penguin Random House and Author Solutions, was set to be my very first book’s publisher!
The excruciatingly long journey of publishing a book was demanding of patience and filled with learning opportunities. I soon welcomed ‘Art Ka Karkhana’, an organization of young artists to add creative visuals to the book. After two months of learning to draft legal documents on my own and signing the same nervously, the day for releasing my book was finalized. 30th of December, 2020. An unforgettable end to an unforgettable year. I received the first-ever courier under my name. Within the khakhi box was my book. MY BOOK. Surrounded by family, we tearfully greeted, what was the result of seventeen years of life. Since then, I have been blessed with support and love I had never anticipated, and lessons I am so grateful for.
‘If Life Wore Polka Dots’, was a beautiful journey I am in awe of. And yet, I smile remembering the words of Frost, ‘The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep…’ There’s much to write before I sleep. for more stuff like this, keep visiting Youth Connect.