Jaskaran Chauhan, an architect by qualification graduated from Chandigarh College of Architecture in 2012. A designer, an artist, a dancer- this multi-talented writer holds nothing back when initiating a project of any sort. Jaskaran’s works have been exhibited in London and Chandigarh in the past. Currently, her work ‘Nebulous Intents’ is on display in Jawahar Kala Kendra, Jaipur. Unlike most young authors who like to write about love, Jaskaran chose to write on a more serious and ambiguous topic: suicide. Acolorfulriot’s literary writer, Armaan Sandhu had the pleasure to be in a conversation with Jaskaran Chauhan, author of Lurking Demons.
What do we fear more, life or death? How do we know what are we here for? Do we even get the answer to such questions? Jaskarn Chauhan, former Architect and current artist amplifies these questions through her novel Lurking Demons and all those questions have been subtly answered in this amazing interview. Published by Pune-based APK Publishers, Lurking Demons transgresses through the habitual nature of humans to look for reasons behind every action which is guided by human conscience.
- What inspired you to write the novel?
Back when I started writing this novel there was a lot of uproar about suicide among students but no one was ready to talk about it in the open. So the idea was to throw some light on this issue
- What is the significance of the lizard in the novel?
I have a friend who is very fond of lizards. He used to take pictures of them and show it to me. So it is a sort of a dedication to him. Along with that it is a metaphor of a third person. A person who is unaware of the actions happening around him and doesn’t care about the same either. It represents the lack of empathy we are encountering at an alarming rate now-a-days. No one really bothers, be it the war in Syria or a dog who dies being hit by a car, there is a general lack of sensitivity and that is what the lizard represents.
- Do you believe that what Giani did was correct or justified?
This is the point that I was trying to bring forward. We humans, as a race, crave reasons. We demand an explanation for everything. In this novel too we see that he decided to take his life and there was no explanation provided which might even hint towards reasoning. We see his parents supposing the reasons, we find his ex trying to come to terms with it, providing her own explanation, it highlights the main idea of human curiosity. Moreover, history is evidence that young deaths are the most tragic, and the most remembered. Maybe because once we’re on the top (youth, success etc) we will eventually degrade or wither away.. Moreover, people believe that is a cowardly act to commit suicide but that is not so. We move from some place as comfortable as life so somewhere unknown, a death, so I don’t see how that is cowardly.
- The style of writing is very subtle to deal with an issue as serious as suicide which somewhere matches to that of writers like Albert Camus or Kafka. Would it be correct to draw parallels?
Yes I have read literature by Camus. The Outsider, Myth of Sisyphus and yes, these writers have dealt with the topic of existentialism and humanism to a great extent. The era in which these books were written was the one where people were coming out of the trauma of wars. So there was a great search, mental and spiritual, to find a purpose for human life and questions about its futile nature. This novel too talks about the same and we see people trying to connect dots and justify the actions of Gianni to satisfy their conscience. So yes, maybe subconsciously, I was trying to relate to those writers and their books.
- We never get to know what happens after the book ends, like he had a family whom he left behind and a whole bunch of people who are still alive. What happens to them?
I believe that no matter how big or deep the grief is, it tends to fade away. People turn into memories and with the passage of time memories fade, no matter how important or special they were.
- Do you think human life is futile and we’re just part of a charade?
There are many ways to answer this and all of them will be right, though if any of those will be the truth is not certain. I could say no, human life is not futile, that we exist for a reason, no matter how obscure and that we are present to help those in need…
On the other hand, I could say, yes, human life is futile. The only certainty is death and we have no idea what happens after that. No matter what religions or gods say, there is no one who can prove with absolute certainty that we do not cease to exist eventually.
It is a cyclic thought.
- What is your next book about and when can our readers get their hands on it?
The next book, ‘Godless Men’ is about how men use god as an excuse to assuage their guilt. It is about the truth behind confessions, about why men believe in god(s). It should be released later this year.
- Do you believe that absolute independence is what human soul demands?
I am not sure what ‘absolute independence’ means. If it means free will, then I do not think anything of the sort exists. Yes, we might desire it and even be happy thinking we have it, but all human actions are governed by their surroundings, by what they have seen, heard, perceived or have been taught since their births. There is no free will or absolute independence, even though the soul might desire it.
- Authors often draw inspiration from their own lives and translate them into their works- either on a small scale or a large scale. Can you tell us a little about your demons that young aspiring authors can relate to, especially since you chose to not pursue the field (full time) you graduated in?
My demons! They are far too many to recount. But for those aspiring to write, the only thing important is to not give up. Be it one sentence, a paragraph or even a phrase, strive to write something each day.
- Do you have a favorite character in the book? Which character do you relate to the most?
It is hard to pick a favourite. I do like Gianni but there is not enough information about him to get really attached to him. Though perhaps that is the reason I do like him. Makes him enigmatic!
- There are often times when authors do/write something subconsciously and create magic. Your book explains the architecture or interiors in subtle detail, helping the reader to visualize a space and be transported into the scene. Was that a conscious effort or just the architect inside you? Did you ever surprise yourself during the course of writing?
Alas that was the architect talking. I couldn’t help it. I like to think it helped the book and I hope I am right! When I started writing this book, it was only as a sort of analysis. I did not think it would ever get published or even finished for that matter. Since I was not consciously trying to write a publishable book, it was a very calm (though not easy) process. When I did ultimately finish the book, it came as a surprise.
Edited by Sanchit Gupta.
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