Inspirational stories call for empathy in Jani Viswanath’s Echoes of light - GulfToday

Inspirational stories call for empathy in Jani Viswanath’s Echoes of light

Composition titled Winter Walk.

Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer

Artist, writer, humanitarian, brand consultant and adventurer Jani Viswanath was born in Coimbatore, South India, and spent her childhood in Afghanistan. “As a daughter of an educationist and a diplomat, my exposure to multiple cultures and countries has shaped my personal growth and artistic sentiments,” says this author of Echoes of light, a collection of short stories and poetry.

The book shares messages of love, compassion and hope through inspiring stories “to warm the spirit and uplift readers,” as she puts it. It has recipes for the simple requirements for happiness. Jani incorporates her travels within the pages by reflecting on individuals she met and the stories they told.

It is published by Jashanmal in English and Arabic and is available online and in all leading bookstores in the UAE.As an artist, Jani paints with knives on oils and has been the recipient of awards from Spain, Italy and the USA.

“Art is an emotion, an expression of your inner thoughts and feelings. There is no right or wrong art,” is her opinion. Using blades and knives on oils, she works on large canvases. Her art reflect her beliefs on life and the influences great thinkers and artists around the world have had on her. She is also an avid art collector.

  Jani Viswanath is the author of Echoes of light.

She moved into film production with two Assamese films, namely, Xhoixobote Dhemalite (Rainbow Fields) and Jwlwi — The Seed. Carrying social messages, both films have won awards at international festivals. (Assamese is one of India’s official languages).

After serving a corporate innings, she gave it up to found Healing Lives, a humanitarian foundation working in education, agriculture and medical sectors, mainly in Kenya, India and Bangladesh. “A life of adventure, of spontaneity, the rush of not knowing what to expect yet firm in the belief that whatever it is that I encounter, I have the capacity to handle it,” she says.

“This to me is the true test of my inner strength and growth. As Jalaluddin Rumi says, moonlight floods the whole sky from horizon to horizon; how much it can fill your room depends on its windows.” Jani Viswanath floods Gulf Today with her answers

What made you write Echoes of light? What is the message readers should take from it?

If I am to be truthful, a book of short stories and poems was furthest from my mind. I was and am working on a novel based in Afghanistan, drawn from my time with the people there and inspired by my utter admiration and respect I have for the stoic resilience, dignity, beauty, and compassion of Afghan women.

It was the time of the pandemic and the world was going through a suffocation of rights and movement. My mind automatically searched for reasons to keep hope alive — and it was not difficult to remember the multiple instances when people emerged out of nowhere and showed compassion and kindness in the most basic ways and changed lives.

  Echoes of light stands tall.

What I hope to achieve is to remind ourselves of the simple requirements for the happiness we so desperately crave, the joys of compassion and hope, the magic of humanity and simple gestures that have been forgotten for a world we long to re-discover and would love to teach our children.

You have lived in many countries. Which the country that has impacted you most? Why has it done so?

Hmmm. This is a difficult one to answer … Well, you see, even when I visit a country as a tourist, I come away with learning something. Every place teaches me something new. From the Afghans, I learnt about living in the present, being positive, being real and fearless. Every visit to Africa teaches me about the stark reality of the human condition and how truly helpless and broken the majority of our race is. Yet amidst their misery, they help and support each other.

Japan taught me self-discipline, courtesy and detail; Iceland showed me the majestic beauty of nature and the need to do more to preserve our planet. And finally, living in UAE for a major part of my life, taught me that nothing is impossible if you try. What a glorious example of multiple cultures and religions living in harmony is here! Nowhere else on earth can you see this realised in practice.

How does literature, particularly your work, serve as a guiding light for readers facing challenges?

My work is inspirational. It talks about hope and possibilities. It is uplifting and easy to read. The challenge most of us face in the world now is loneliness and acceptance and in trying to meet society’s expectations, be it physical, social, mental or economic.

 Jani Viswanath's abstract work titled Storm.

We need to break free from this noose and come back to the grassroots and think of what makes us truly happy.Rather than spending your entire life chasing the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and being too old to use that pot of gold when you get it, let us cherish and build beautiful memories with those we love and care and live in the moment.

What is the best compliment you have received as an author?

Almost every person who has read it has said that while reading my stories, they feel like they are part of the story watching it happen before them. They could literally see the characters and surroundings as they appeared.


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