Interview with Chirajit Paul, the author of ‘The Fragrance of Rose’

Literary Yard has spoken to Chiranjit Paul regarding his new novel ‘The Fragrance of Rose’ which brings to the fore the topic of sexual harassment at work. Chiranjit openly shares his insights on the journey of the novel and how it shaped up.

Chirajit Paul is a Chartered Accountant by training, system integration specialist by profession and a compulsive novelist. He loves to write entertaining stories about relevant social issues.

Chirajit Paul, the author of 'The Fragrance of Rose'

What inspired you to pen down The Fragrance of Rose?
Writing came quite naturally to me. I write my first novel and got it self-published in 2013. It was a political novel and I knew not many people will be interested to read a new author in that genre. Hence, it remained mostly undiscovered. It, however, gave me the confidence that I can write on complex matters. When I was wondering what to write next, the subject of sexual harassment at workplace interested me. I thought it would be interesting to write from a lady protagonist’s perspective. The subject and the challenge of entering a woman’s mind and writing about her acted as inspiration.

What is the ethos of this writing endeavour?
The Fragrance of Rose is written with the intention of bringing the topic of sexual harassment to the discussion table once again. It not only points out the perils of the menace, but also the pitfalls if any victim decides to take advantage of the situation to further their personal ambitions. Below the gripping entertaining saga lies the message ‘what is wrong for others cannot be right for me’.

How easy or difficult was it to write?
Though the novel is written in third person the novel follows the protagonist who is a beautiful young lady. It was necessary to get into the mind of the character and start thinking (and feeling) like her to be able to do justice to the character and the story, which clearly was a very difficult task for me. Thanks to my wife who had shared with me various facets of a woman’s mind and thinking pattern. Without her support it would not have been possible for me to capture the perspective I was looking to. Once I got a hold on it, it became easier.

You’ve said that it includes incidents which have direct co-relation with your life. Will you tell us about them and the whole journey of them being part of the novel?
My wife works in the media and the first part of the three part novel is set in a news channel. Clearly some of her real life experiences experienced and observed as seen happening around with friends, colleagues and acquaintances have found a place in the novel. The character of Chaitali (protagonist Rinita Bose’s best friend) is loosely based on her. The characters and context has been fictionalized in the interest of the story. It will be unfair for me to divulge exactly which incident is real and which one is imaginary, as it might damage the charm of reading. However, it was an interesting challenge for me to weave a story around some real life incidents without them becoming apparent. I believe in the end it came out well.

Can you briefly outline the protagonist?
The protagonist Rinita Bose is a beautiful young lady from a humble background who came to Kolkata from a smaller suburban town with a lot of dreams. She was subjected to sexual harassment at workplace which she could not protest because the perpetrator (her boss) was a powerful man. Different people reacts differently to situations. In this story, two best friends, Chaitali and Rinita also reacts differently to the act of sexual harassment. Chaitali quits the job in protest, but Rinita hangs on to take advantage of the fact that she was beautiful and desired by men. She decided to arm-twist the system in her favour. In the course of doing that she falls in a trap laid by herself. Overall, a brave character with tremendous fighting spirit and a noble heart.

Is there anything specific which you want to add?
I dedicated this novel to my wife as without her help it would not have been possible for me to write it. I will be happy if this book will raise some awareness and help us to improve the working conditions for women, so that years later when my four year old daughter will enter the professional world, she will find a better and cleaner workplace.
Apart from raising awareness on the issue I have pledged the profits from the book to NGOs who are working to support victims of sexual harassment win a legal battle and restore a dignified life.

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