Ministhy Dileep, a young UP cadre IAS officer, feels for the old.
So much so, that she has just come out with her first novel, Anklets at Sunset through which she wants people to "look at the elders a little differently, embrace their spirit, respect them more and enjoy their companionship."
"If after reading it, you feel similarly, my job is done," she said.
This bureaucrat has already penned three children's books along with a short story collection, said that the creative spark for her first novel came from three old men in Agra.
"During my posting in Taj-land, as a joint Magistrate, I used to drive past three old men sitting on a park bench, reading newspapers," she said. Seeing them everyday, she thought, "They must have been young once, full of life. Now that they are old, they are left all alone."
That's how the idea for the story was conceived.
"The whole theme is about old people, their ideas, their dreams, their wisdom, which the young often forgets."
Dileep is a voracious reader. "I have always been scribbling ever since I can remember. Reading and writing has been like oxygen. Perhaps I can do without food for a day -- but the greatest of torture would be to leave me without a book to eat!," the bureaucrat siad.
She said the idea behind the book was to remind people that elders have a role too, both in the story as well as in real life.
The bureaucrat's book has already attracted rave reviews from HelpAge India, an NGO working for the elderly. "I would recommend the book to all youths," said AK Singh, joint director, (North), HelpAge.
Singh added, "The introductory line, in which the bureaucrat speaking through the protagonist(s) says, 'To the young world around us, we do not exist' gives a feel of what to expect in the remaining 139 pages. But, then, the 'respect-elderly' issue, hasn't been overplayed, which is what makes the book all the more readable for it has a engaging storyline too."
If the bureaucrat is happy that her book is attracting response, she doesn't say as much. "Probably the greatest compliment I ever got and which continues to illuminate my mind is what my beloved Class Teacher Reverend Sister Marcella wrote on my English Composition book in sixth standard: "Very Good, it is a delight to read your page."
She said, " Now what made me assume I could write for the public? Nothing- I am happy to write. I am satisfied as having done my job, I am open, both to praise as well as to criticism."
Being a busy bureaucrat, where does she get the time to write?
"Writing trains you to observe -- no conversation, no behaviour is ordinary. The brain files it all away to use in some context or the other. Then, for me writing acts as a stress buster."
She then quotes Estes who in 'Women who run with wolves' emphasizes the need for every woman to have an activity to immerse her soul in. "Mine is words," she quipped quoting Virginia Woolf, "One needs money/economic independence and a room of one's own to write!"