Advika Gupta has woven words, images and metaphors from the ordinary to create a stellar collection of poems, Sillhouttes Unravelled. While most 16-year olds are busy cramming for exams or handling relationships, Advika was encouraged by her parents and friends to pursue her talent, "I've been 'writing' poetry since I was four or five. Naturally, my first few poems were very childish. However, that did not stop my parents and the rest of my extended family from praising me and motivating me to continue writing. It was in the senior classes that teachers began to notice and encourage me. Later, my uncle suggested that I compile my poems together. At first, I didn't take that very seriously, but over time I did manage to collect them all in one diary. I guess, after the seed's planted, it just needs some watering, right?!"
Reminiscing about her first poem, her face lights up, "My first poem was dictated by me to my mom. I came up with a limerick about a chimpanzee and because I had no handwriting skills at age 5, someone else had to write it out for me. Many poems happened the same way and ultimately, I'm told that as a 7 year old I was encouraged, prodded and forced to write out all these 'poems' in my own handwriting (the the ulterior motive being to push me to start developing handwriting skills!).... I still have some of those early works and feel quite embarrassed about the topics I chose to write on in those years!!"
Her debut collection of poems explores a smorgasbord of themes ranging from her love for ordinary objects like curtains to philosophical musings on death and love.
She says, "Silhouettes Unravelled, essentially, is a collection of poems that focus on human emotions. An emotion, for me, is something that each of us is vaguely aware of. We know about it in terms of what we experience, but very little beyond that - we don't know what lies hidden inside it, what its components are. That is why I found it a lot like a silhouette - an outline with the inside dark and unknown. However, writing and reading about an emotion helps explore it further and sheds some light on it. Thus, it's like unravelling it. Hence, the title, Silhouettes Unravelled."
A student of class XII, she loves reading philosophy, which reflects in the philosophical dilemmas that echo in her.
Opening up about the inspiration behind her poems, Gupta said, "Differences in society inspire me to work towards bridging the gaps. Be it through my volunteer work at an NGO working with underprivileged children, or through reaching out to differently-abled children in my family and school, my life's aim is to work towards reducing these gaps between us who have everything and those who may have very little apart from human existence."
What makes her poems so personal? "Most of the poems I write, start off with a strong sentiment I've experienced recently. I visualise a scene where the emotion might be absolutely apt and unique. From there, I just go on to spin a story about the scene from the point of view of the person experiencing that particular emotion. I think that's the main reason they all have a very personal touch to them. My aim is to reach out to my readers and make them see the same pain that I saw."
Most of the poems echo with a deep psychological understanding of human emotions, and brings alive the pain, joy and sorrow of an individual in a poignant manner. Being a young schoolgirl, she finds emotional wisdom through her own experiences, "I find emotional solace in writing poetry. It helps me deal with an emotional problem if I pen down what I'm going through. But all my poems are not autobiographical. I have not necessarily gone through each of the emotions I write about. A friend's experience, a beautiful sight, a heart wrenching picture, anything can cause a surge of emotions within, which I need to get out of my system by writing. In the few poems that are autobiographical, I've usually described the image through another person's point of view."
She counts her parents and friends as the biggest supporters of her Wordsworthian ambitions, "My parents have ALWAYS been motivating and encouraging about my poems. They appreciate even the worst of what I write - it's unconditional positive feedback taken to a new high! They loved the idea of my becoming an author/ poet professionally.
"My friends are adorable. Some of the poems were written in school during a free slot and even those they would eagerly wait for me to finish and read out to them. Today, they are more excited about the fact that I've gotten a book published than even I am. Their support (and hugs and shrieks of excitement) makes me realise how lucky I am to have them with me."
While revelling under all the attention, Gupta, has plans to enter a good university just like any other girl of her age. But she also dreams of becoming a professional writer more than anything else.