By Vishnu Makhijani
Her first collection of poems, “Boundless”, captured hersearch for her own identity in her twenties as she built her career and moved from India to London to California. Natasha Malpani Oswal, who, apart from being a poet, is also a content producer and podcast producer, wrote her latest book, “Reinvention” after moving back to India after ten years of living abroad as she grappled with the idea of ‘coming home’ and ‘coming of age’.
“The transition has been both difficult and rewarding. I wrote these poems as I grappled with the idea of coming ‘home’ and ‘coming of age’. Reinvention is my personal diary – it explores the darker side of love, family and ambition,” Malpani told IANS in an interview.
“Can we preserve our identity, while being part of multiple families? What sacrifices do we have to make for success? Can we have it all – and keep it?
“I titled the book ‘Reinvention’, because it is about the power of embracing and leaning into change. Now I believe we can absolutely keep and amplify our voice – while staying connected to our roots. I think this is a bolder book, and hopefully reflects, post ‘Boundless” my own personal growth,” she added.
It wasn’t an easy journey.
“At first, I worried about losing the identity I had worked so hard to build. This book is about adapting to a new world. Home didn’t feel anything like home when I moved back. I transitioned from being an investor to a producer and starting my own company, and adjusting to two families. The changes were huge – but have made me stronger,” Malpani explained.
Poetry, she said, “is the most honest and raw form of self-expression. I write poems to both express and understand my own thoughts and feelings. Writing down how I feel helps me see my own life from different perspectives”.
She wrote the poems as notes to herself on her phone, “because I wanted to keep the words as sharp and vulnerable as possible. I try to edit myself as little as possible – poetry needs to capture your darkest thoughts and feelings. I put myself out there completely” Malpani elaborated.
To this end, the nine chapters titled “Freedom”, “Driven”, “Sparkle”, “Princess”, “Settle”, “Restless”, “Longing”, “Ripe”, and “Ties”, encompass losing and rebuilding trust and relationships and the dark side of home, love and ambition, because that is what she was exploring at the time.
Sample this poem titled “Family”:
We grow/we fight/we love/we fall/apart/we leave/-come/back-/to pickup/the pieces/a guiding/light (house)/the one/constant/in a/sea/of change.
Or “Best Friend”:
You see/me at/my worse/-you don’t care-/i tell you/my darkest/thoughts/-judgement free-/i know/you’ll stay/i know/ this will last/when you/laugh/at my pain/-perspective-/and i love/you for it.
“My message is: don’t be afraid to choose a different path. Make your own. There are no rules or templates. No one has the answers. Work on getting bolder, better and taking risks: your life expands or shrinks in proportion to your mindset,” Malpani asserted.
She hopes “readers are inspired to challenge themselves, and get bolder and better, instead of settling as we grow older. If anything, 2020 has shown us that change is the only constant. The journey starts when we lean into and embrace uncertainty, instead of fighting it. I hope the honesty and rawness of these poems connects with them”.
What next? What’s her next project?
“I run a creative house called Boundless Media. We make high quality shows and films that are locally rooted, but resonate globally. Our stories are for and by a new India. I’m very excited about the slate we have for this year – we have a dark comic show, a feminist film and an animated film coming up soon. We really pour ourselves into our creative projects because I think stories resonate and connect with people when they have truth in them.
“I also have a podcast – so I do get to explore other mediums of storytelling through my work,” Malpani concluded.
“Reinvention” has been published by Bloomsbury.
(The author can be reached at [email protected])