Penning the legacy of Suraiya Hasan

The Delhi-based writer Radhika Singh was recently in Hyderabad, to release her book 'Suraiya Hasan Bose: Weaving a Legacy'.

The book is based on textile guru Suraiya Hasan Bose, who worked tirelessly to revive dying weaves like 'himroo' and 'mushroom'.

Radhika informs that she got an idea to pen a book on Suraiya when she was working on FabIndia's book 'The Fabric of Our Lives: The Story of FabIndia'.

For the book, Radhika interviewed more than 90 people, who contributed to revive and promote indigenous weavings and crafts.

Suraiya Hasan Bose was among them. The source material of the book grew out of letters written by its founder John Bissell, and Suraiya stood out in them and that made her write a book on Suraiya.

"I met Suraiya aapa first time in 2009 when FabIndia sent me to interview her for the book.

While interviewing her for 'The Fabric of Our Lives…' I realised that her story should be turned into a book."

"So, I started looking about her in the market, to see what is available about this lady and I found that they were some magazine articles, and nobody has done a study or a story on her and about her work in the preservation and recreation of weaves.

I shared the idea with FabIndia and Laila Tyabji (founder member of Dastkar) and they said that it is a great story and it should be written.

So, I started writing without any commission and funding."

Radhika shares that it was not an easy task too write the book.

"I started the book in 2011 and had to shuttle between Delhi and Hyderabad.

I did that for a year and later my mother and my mother-in-law were suffering from cancer and I had to tend to them both and I could work on the book at that time.

Sadly, both succumbed to cancer.

Subsequently, I was looking for funding to put the book together.

I came to Hyderabad and my husband knows the Reddy's of Dr Reddy's Foundation well and he shared about the book to them and after listening to the idea they wanted to fund the printing of the book.

About the challenges while writing the book she says, "I don't think there was any challenge, I had to just understand the nature of the process, of what she did and how she did it.

The book took too many years and she got older.

If there is been a regret, in my opinion, I think that the book should have come out at least two years earlier, because then she would have been in a better space to enjoy it."

"I liked her commitment and complete lack of ego.

She is oblivious about the importance of her work.

She is not aware that she has done something great because she is very humble.

She lives a very simple life and she creates fabrics which were made for the Nizams.

She made a hundred jalas, each of the fabric that she has woven she made different jalas which is an archived material that needs to go into the textile museum to been shown that this is how this fabric is woven.

And nothing will bring back the intricacy of the weaving by hand.

No computer is going to recreate it like that, but of course, it is so expensive if you created by hand."

About continuing her career as an author, she says, "I will write more book in the near future as I like to interact with personal business histories.

I like to write and find people who have done a lot of good work in their life, where nobody is written about them.

I think stories like this are the history of our country and it is important for us to remember and for the next generation to learn.

I think history is very important and I feel that we are not giving any importance to it in our syllabus.

I think these stories have to be told and I have made it a mission in my life to do it.

I have people who are coming to me and asking to write about them, and I say yes when I like the story!"

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