Author Nandita Chakraborty opens up about her Dirty Little Secrets

The book is a memoir about the journey of her life where she compares life with an adventure

author_img Raima Ganguly Published :  20th July 2022 12:00 AM   |   Published :   |  20th July 2022 12:00 AM

Nandita Chakraborty

Author Nandita Chakraborty comes from a typical artistic Bengali family from the heart of Kolkata, who shifted to Melbourne to find her own footing. However, as life had its own plans, a solo journey to find her own identity soon met with impediments that would leave a lasting impact on her life. She fell in love with someone who soon turned into her worst nightmare, as the rose hued days turned into a series of blackmails. As she found her way through these incidents, and was just about rising from the ashes of her past, she met with an accident while rock climbing that left her with a brain injury. It is her journey of recovery from this point that pushed her into embracing her life, and its twists and turns in all its glory that finally culminated into a memoir of a woman on her own adventure titled Dirty Little Secrets: A Memoir. Nandita has not just remembered haunting incidents from her past in this book but dealt with prevalent concepts of “shame” and tried to break the chain of hushed affairs in Indian families. Presently a screenwriter and author of two novels Rosemary's Retribution and Meera Rising, Nandita opens up to us about her Dirty Little Secrets.


Cover of Dirty Little Secrets


What made you leave your banking job to pursue writing?

I remember being fond of writing from a very young age and taking part in Shankar’s International Children’s Competition as a kid. I also wrote a letter to Rajiv Gandhi as I was a big on World Peace back then. I hail from an artistic Bengali family from the heart of Kolkata due to which I had the privilege of interacting with legendary directors such as Mrinal Sen from my formative years. However, when I shifted to Melbourne with a day job at the bank, I realised I wanted to do something beyond a 9 to 5 job. I enrolled myself for a creative writing class under the tutelage of Rosalie Ham, who happens to be the author of The Dressmaker, which was later made into a movie starring Kate Winslet and Liam Hemsworth. However, even that wasn’t exactly the trigger that made me take up writing. It was only when I encountered with gruesome incidents in my personal life that I started keeping a journal of my thoughts. I only turned it into a book for my family and friends, after encountering with a rock-climbing accident that dilapidated my physical and mental health. So it can be said that the book is a culmination of five to seven years of journaling my thoughts.

Your book is named Dirty Little Secrets: A Memoir. How did your family and peers react when you decided to pen a book on your most intimate experiences?

I think it is important to shed one’s dirty laundry every now and then. The thing is there will always be noise in the background; especially in today’s world so I thought regardless of what judgements people pass you have to put yourself out there. It was sort of a cathartic situation for me as I found myself thinking of it as a release when I writing this book. It was similar to meditation that calms your mind. I was aware that people were talking behind my back, so while writing this book I thought to myself that no one can talk anymore as I am putting it all out there myself. I believe most people somehow cannot handle the truth and tag it as shameful, but it is my duty to embrace my shame. It is even more important for young girls such as my own nieces, because we need to educate them from a young age about embracing their lives. A lot of relatives and peers appreciated my efforts once the book was out. It is important to change the dialogue about what shame really is, and my book is a small attempt towards this.



How have these incidents helped you evolve as a person?

My parents bundled me and my elder sister up and sent us to a boarding school when I was just seven. I remember my sister crying inconsolably because she missed home while I was the one to comfort her. Even as a kid, I slowly embraced my solitude and started to take it as a part of my life. I would often talk to myself, and found my conscience as a guide from a very young age. I would write my feelings on a school copy, as there were no fancy stationeries back then. I believe, this is how most writers find their footing from a very young age and this helped me embrace my life when I shifted to Melbourne as well. All I had to was clear the clutter, or impact of whatever happened in my life so far and embrace what I have at the moment.

So what would you consider as your biggest takeaway amidst all these impediments?

Well my biggest takeaway would be that everything happens for a reason. I think all the incidents that happened to me so far were preparing me for the future. The incidents helped me become rooted and connected to my origins more than ever, all of it because it helps you step onto the next level of your life.

Do you have any plans of writing another book any time soon?

Yes, I am building up a character at the moment and the first draft of the first chapter is complete. I believe it’s coming out pretty well. It’s about a Bengali woman from Kolkata who travels to England in the 1830s. I also have plans of jotting down something for kids since I am fond of them, but it will take some time as I can only take small steps at a time.