Poetry is the language of the Soul : Dr Henana Berjes

We all are different and have been created so for a reason. Each one of us has an influence on this world. We need to know the purpose why we are here.

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Dr Henana Berjes from Kashmir is an intellect of par excellence. She is the author of the Middle eastern thriller, The Mahzur and The Third Daughter; a tale of hate, vengeance and remorse. Both her books have been well received. The Fault Lines Within, is her third book and is a collection of short stories. At present, she is working on two other novels, both slated for release next year.
She describes herself as someone who writes about the blank spaces between relationships.
Dr Berjes is an MD Anaesthesiology and Critical care and has travelled widely around the Middle east.
She is an avid reader too.
In an exclusive interview with the Heaven Mail, she talks to Rameez Makhdoomi.
Tell us about your childhood?
As a child,I was a shy person, seeking solace in the written word. My books became my best friends in a world that I didn’t seem to understand. I belong to a family where reading was an essential habit and my dad’s library was full of books of all kinds. So I grew up reading books as diverse as urdu poetry and Russian literature. In the pre Facebook era, that’s what most of the kids did, play and read books. Life was much simpler and we didn’t have many questions and even if we had, our elders seemed to have all the right answers.
Somehow, childhood back then was easier.
What was your academic life like?
Well I wouldn’t say I was exactly hard working, burning the midnight oil. But I did grasp my subject with a compartive ease. I did my schooling from Mallinson school and I was fortunate enough to be groomed by the best teachers.
It was in school that I developed my love of fiction.
I have done my MBBS and MD from Govt. Medical college, srinagar and have worked as an ER physician in the middle East for almost 6 years. These days I work as an Anaesthesiologist withJ and k health services.
What motivated you to be an author and a poet?
I guess my love for books. As I said before, I learned to connect with words very early in life. And once I did, I knew I would be a writer one day. We all are created different, each with a spark within, a spark that won’t let you settle down for the mundane. That’s what makes us standout. That’s what makes us go on.
Tell us about your journey as an author?
Well, I began writing when I was in grade seven. But it wasn’t until I had completed my MBBS, that I decided to get published, when Sahitya Akademy Delhi was on the lookout for young authors and I sent my collection of ghazals to them. They liked it very much and that’s how my journey as a poet began. The book is available in all government libraries and can also be downloaded from Rekhta.
However, it would be almost 15 years later, that I’d publish my first book of fiction.
Why the long hiatus?
Perhaps that’s how it was meant to be. Getting married and raising two kids, besides working as a physician, hardly left time for anything else.
And then one fine morning, I woke up to the realisation that I had missed something very important
So Mahzur happened. It is my first book of fiction and is a suspense thriller from the middle East. The book has received a lot of love from all over the world and is a bestseller in middle Eastern fiction on Amazon.
My second book, The third daughter, a contemporary coming of age fiction deals with the bias against the girl child. The book was partly inspired by a real incident.
The Third book, The Fault Lines Within, is a collection of short stories, which deals with the blank spaces between relationships.
The first two books are available as e books on Amazon and as paperback in the US. I am trying to get the paperback in India.
The Fault Lines Within is in paperback and available worldwide. It is shipped by Gulshan books,kashmir.
Who are your favourite poets and Authors?
I am influenced by Somerset Maugham, Maxim Gorky, Toni Morrison and Khaled Hosseni among fiction writers..My all time favourite is The old man and the sea, by Earnest Hemingway, for its multidimensional meaning. It is a book that has stayed with me over the years.
I love urdu poetry and I have read most of the urdu poets from the turn of the century. Ghalib, and Faiz ahmed faiz being my favourite. I identify with Parveen shakir, and people have told me that my poetry is influenced by her.
I once wrote,
KitaboN ki khushbu se pehchaanta hay
Zamana ghazal say mujhe jaanta hay.
That’s how I want to be remembered. As a writer who made a difference to this world.
What are your future goals?
I want to write books, as many as I can. And I want to leave a legacy behind. There is one book that I plan to write, can’t disclose it now, but I wish to write it before I die.
Written word stays long after we cease to exist and I want to be remembered as someone who wrote good literature.
What is the scope of poetry in the present world?
Poetry is the language of the soul and people connect to it instantaneously. However not all rhyming words make a poem. We need to cultivate the art so that this beautiful language of our hearts doesn’t die out. We need to save it.
What is your message to the masses?
First of all, I don’t believe in the word, masses. Because just like a mass is made up of so many individual particles, so is it with people. We all are different and have been created so for a reason. Each one of us has an influence on this world. We need to know the purpose why we are here.
That’s it.

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