‘One Stupid Comment’ was a series of firsts for me. My first published work of fiction. My first attempt at dystopian romance. My first collaborative project. My first collaborative project with a Pakistani author. Any guesses why this story is so close to my heart?
When Saba suggested that we do a post-apocalyptic story, I was both excited and apprehensive. I had never handled the genre before. In fact, I hadn’t even read enough post-apocalyptic stuff to be writing anything at all. But Saba made it so much easier—she inaugurated the story and I just followed the cues. Writing fantasy fiction turned out to be more fun that I had imagined. There is nothing to limit you, no facts to hold you down and no logical reasoning to curb your creativity—it is almost like flying like a free bird.
We played it like a badminton match—writing a few hundred words each at a time, which left immense scope for twists, turns and surprises. Also, when you have a co-author as creative and talented as Saba, there is no dearth of inspiration and ideas.
My favorite aspect of the story is the way it seamlessly connects the past with the future, while the two protagonists grapple with realities of the present day. Our protagonists, both young people, represent the progressive youth of India and Pakistan who are willing to look beyond the boundary wall and extend a friendly hand to the neighbor. Readers might also enjoy the symbolism that has been used at different stages of the story to lend it a deeper meaning.
Working with a Pakistani didn’t feel a wee bit different from working with an Indian. Rather, our working relationship was steeped in comfort, trust, understanding and an open exchange of ideas—just the way it should be. I am extremely proud to be a part of an initiative that stands for peace and strives to bridge barriers using art and literature as a binding medium. ‘The pen is mightier than the sword’ may be an old, tired cliché, but is befitting nevertheless.
Shuchi Singh Kalra, India