Woman Selling Hindi Literature Books For 25 Years
It was 12:30 p.m., a bit late, for Sanjana Tiwari to set up her little Hindi book shop on the side of the road. “I leave home around 9:30 a.m. to buy books. So usually I get here around 11 a.m.,” she says with a smile and walks back to her shop’s setup.
His shop is outside the Shri Ram Center for Performing Arts and is a place of much activity – where people talk about literature, performing arts, politics and everything. People from all walks of life visit his shop, earning him the name “SRC Aunty”.
“A few weeks ago, actor Manav Kaul came here. He was excited after seeing his books in my shop. Like him, many actors and writers visit my shop. That’s what I earn,” says she, adding, “This place is my home. I can’t imagine my life without this shop. See how much love these students give me. I live off the love of these drama students.”
Sanjana Tiwari was born and raised in Bihar. When she was in 10th grade, she got married, but she never gave up her passion for reading. She graduated after getting married, now she plans to pursue her masters. “Women don’t have a permanent home, I was married very young, but reading was my passion. I can’t live without reading. I opened this shop to be able to read. It’s been over 25 years now.
Tiwari knows the work of every author in his collection: “I read every new book. I also recommend books, if someone asks me. She believes that a good guide turns a young student into a reader: “It depends on the guide, because young people don’t know what to read. If out of fascination they went to the store, they would buy random books that they wouldn’t even read.
She is of the opinion that reading is a good habit and should be picked up at an early stage in life. If students were told interesting things about a writer, they would love to read. Otherwise, it will bore them.
Sanjana Tiwari’s husband, Radheshyam Tiwari is also a Hindi writer. But Sanjana never lets her shadow overshadow her identity. “My life is this shop, and I earned it, it’s my capital. I haven’t made a lot of money in life, but what I’ve earned will stay with me forever. Many writers know my husband; they know me too, but not as his wife but as Sanjana Tiwari.
Tiwari remembers famous Hindi poet Manglesh Dabral who passed away in December 2020. “The death of Manglesh Ji was a personal loss for me. He respected me a lot. Whenever someone asked him for a bookstore, he would say: buy from Sanjana, she is sitting at Mandi House.
Sanjana also runs a small publication under her name, Sanjana Publications. It publishes works by emerging writers. But she has an unfulfilled wish: “If Manglesh Dabral were alive, I would have published his book,” she says.
Sanjana believes that people should read literature in their mother tongue. “Your mother tongue is like your mother. If you are Tamil read Tamil literature, if you are Bengali read Bengali literature. Don’t just look for English. You will not taste your region.
“People don’t understand the value of literature. People should read books like Vaishali ki Nagarvadhu, Maila Anchal, Tamas, Joothan. They give a better perspective on what is happening around us. You can’t find work like Maila Anchal in English, which is an anchalik (regional) novel,” she says.
Sanjana also keeps track of every Hindi literature report. She shares her thoughts on Hindi author Mannu Bhandari and her writer husband, the late Rajendra Yadav. “When Mannu ji passed away last year, people started talking about her life and her strained relationship with her husband. If anyone really wants to understand what she went through, read her autobiography, Ek kahani Yah Bhi,” she said.
Sanjana thinks neither Bhandari nor Yadav are hiding anything, yet people talk about their life and speculate about it. This shouldn’t happen. “Rajendra ji, has written extensively about his life in his publication, Hans. Mannu ji also talked about many things. After they die, we discuss who was wrong and who was not. Whose character is debatable. We shouldn’t do that, they were great writers. And we need to remember them through their work,” she says.
Sanjana thinks this world is ruled by love. It’s nothing without love and attention. She recites a poem:
Ajanma hota hai Prem (love does not take birth)
Caress me my friend rahe bacche ke sath
Prem bhi pal rha hota hai
Magar vah bacche ki tarah janm nahi leta
Prem ajanma hota hai
Agar vah janm lega to uska ant bhi nishchit hai
(with a child in the belly, love also grows
But it doesn’t take birth
love is birthless
If he would take birth, his end is also certain)