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“How Mommy’s Luck Lucked Out” shares Varsha Pillai

Varsha is the mother to a curious nine-year-old who is wrapping her head around the workings of the world. To satiate her daughter’s curiosity, Varsha picked up the art of storytelling. When she is not cooking up stories in her mind, Varsha acts as the head of communications for a Bengaluru-based NGO. Her story features in When Mommy Was a Little Girl, a collection of fifteen stories of Mommies when they were ‘little girls’ published by Ponytale Books (January 2022).

Preeti Chaturvedi in conversation with Varsha Pillai, one of the fifteen contributors to “When Mommy Was a Little Girl” (Ponytale Books, 2022), an anthology celebrating Mommies when they were ‘little girls!’

Why does one write short stories? 

For some, it is to capture those tiny moments and chronicle those feelings they evoke within the realm of words so that others may experience it the way you have and while it is all of that for me as well, it also includes being away from the world of academic writing since I am in the last leg of completing my Ph.D. as well!  

How do you feel about the rejections of research journals?

To be honest, this short story was my safe succor away from the rejections of research journals where I could perhaps string together words of a time when “what should we play next” was our only matter of anxiety and concern! When Ponytale books called for stories, I saw it as an opportunity that I had to explore even if it meant moving away from my research work and dwelling on the simpler pleasures of our lives- our childhood. 

What inspired you to write this book?

My short story in the amazing anthology When Mommy Was a Little Girl published by Ponytale Books poured out of me one fine morning as I sat to pen down my time as a little girl. The story “How Mommy’s Luck Lucked Out” is a snippet from my childhood which in time would also define how I understood the term luck and learned how it was different from skill and opportunity! 

How would you describe your childhood and your memories as a little girl?

The story moves from the place where I grew up – Pune (or Poona as it was known then) to Jabalpur (another setting of the story) and is reminiscent of a time where play only meant the outdoors and not being cooped up inside our home in front of different devices. It also is memorable since it was the time, I remembered the most because my father was away for 3 years for work and we would get to meet him only a couple of times a year, either during the summer holidays or Diwali break. Being the youngest of 3 sisters, I was pampered silly however I also felt left out and therefore like all youngest siblings believed that I had to do things differently to ensure that I remained the center of attention, most of the time, if not always. I also wrote this story as an ode to the childhood that was different yet in all crucial ways similar to my daughter’s childhood especially when it had to do with knowing the importance of our family and friends, knowing the worth of money, etc.

How was your daughter’s reaction to your book?

Therefore, I am proud to share that my 10-year-old daughter was the first reader of the short story and also its first critic and for that, I shall always be grateful! She was the first one to see all the drafts of the story and loved it when I read aloud the various iterations. She insisted that I read the story to her because she said that when I read it, I had “an unmistakable twinkle in my eye”! Daughters are the best, need I say more! 

You can buy the book from Amazon

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