Incentivised Conversion Is Still Forced Conversion : Oswald Pereria

The man who scintillated  us with his sensational debut on blurring lines in news reporting in The Newsroom Mafia is back this year end with yet another shocker. This christmas Oswald Pereira takes us, wrapped in fiction, to a less talked about truth concerning Christianity in India. We get inKonversation with the multi-talented wordsmith who seems to be on a mission to explore all facets of writing in all its forms with his varied roles as Journalist, Editor, Language Trainer and now writer. Read on as he talks about religion, truths & his fine inspiration:

Oswald PereriaRevenge of the Naked Princess – that’s an intriguing title. What led the princess to nakedness?
I love you saying that the title is intriguing. It shows that the title itself has aroused interest in the book. For you to know what led the princess to nakedness, it is necessary to read the book. If I answer your question it will take away the suspense, thrill and intrigue!

Revenge of the Naked Princess – A Dark Tale on Forced Converions, a historical thriller set in the sixteenth century, is the first Indian book to describe the brutality of forced religious conversions. The protagonist is a beautiful but brave 18-year-old tribal princess, who resists forced conversions. She fights back with her ace archers’ poison arrows, a Portuguese conversion brigade armed with a monstrous cannon and scores of firearms.

Your debut book The Newsroom Mafia was about the fine line between fact and fiction in the newsrooms while the latest one deals with how forced conversions can blur the line between religion and carnage. Do the fine balances in things inspire the storyteller in you?
Yes, you’re right … the fine balance in things inspires the story teller in me. If you look at life itself, we are always trying to draw or manoeuvre a fine balance. At work and in your career, you have to draw a fine line between ambition and stabbing your colleague in his back. In a relationship, there is a fine line between love and lust. As a parent when you rear your child, you have to make sure that your looking after him doesn’t degenerate into controlling  your offspring …there’s a fine line between being a good parent and an over-protective, obsessive parent.

In The Newsroom Mafia, it is shown how corruption in the media blurs the line between fact and fiction. When a journalist is paid by those who plant news on him, he is willing to distort facts to benefit his benefactor. As his writing is tinged with the colour of money, what he is writing is not fact but fiction … but a reader is none the wiser and may believe fictitious, fabricated news as factual.  When you convert to another religion of our own, free will, it can be a religious, spiritual experience. But if you or a group of people are forced to convert, with threat of physical harm or inducement of money or property or a good life here on in the next life, then that is not a spiritual or religious experience but an act of violence and carnage as described in my novel.

What was the trigger inspiration to write a novel on a volatile and hushed about issue like forced religious conversions?
My love for the truth…why should forced religious conversions be hushed up? Why should such a dark chapter in the history of a religion be forgotten?

RevengeoftheNakedPrincessThe Newsroom Mafia was more of an insider’s view of the alliance between media, government and the underworld coming from your experiences as a journalist but Revenge of the Naked Princess is a story that takes us to 16th century India. How much of research went into the book?
I did do a lot of research. But I believe the story was buried somewhere inside me…it was dying to pour out of me.

Tell us about the authors and books that have influenced you profoundly.
I have been greatly influenced by great writers like Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Thomas Hardy, Henry Fielding, Emily Bronte and Charlotte Bronte; though my writing is not in the classical mould.

What would you say about the state of religious conversions in 21st century India?
Well, conversions still take place, though not by force and violence. But when people are offered inducements or incentives to convert, it is like being forced. It may not be brutal conversions or carnage or mass murder as we understand it. But it’s carnage of the soul and spirit of a person when a person converts because he is being offered or shown some goodies.

Writer, Journalist, Editor or Language Trainer; you must love all but which is your favorite role?
My favourite role is of an author.

If you were asked why do you write, what would your single line answer be?
I write because I love to write.

One reason why every reader out there, irrespective of their religious inclinations, should read Revenge of the Naked Princess.
To know how power-hungry fanatics destroyed the goodness of a religion.

Your words of wisdom for newbie writers.
Keep trying, keep writing and never give up.

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