Dr. Manju Jaidka’s book, “When Cato Played Cupid” released

Chandigarh: The prolific writer, educator, Fulbright scholar, and internationally acclaimed author of nearly two dozen academic and fiction books, Dr. Manju Jaidka’s latest collection of short stories was released here at the Central State Library.

Dr. Manju Jaidka, now a Senior Professor and Dean at Shoolini University, Solan, HP, is a former Professor and Chairperson of the Department of English, Panjab University. She is the recipient of several national and international fellowships, including a Fulbright, and two Rockefeller awards. She is the author of more than twenty-five books and more than sixty research papers published in reputed national and international journals. As a creative writer she has authored two collections of poems, a play, and four novels, including Scandal Point (2011), Amaltas Avenue, (2014), and Gumshoe Mania (2021). Her non-fiction publication titled The Next Milestone (2017), was commissioned by the WHO, on the management of disability.  As the Chairperson of Chandigarh Sahitya Akademi from 2008 to 2015, Jaidka curated and held annual Literature Festivals, an exercise that she continues at Shoolini University.  She also serves on the advisory board of several international organizations and organizes international academic conferences annually.

Chancellor and Vice Chancellor of Shoolini University, Dr P.K. Khosla and Prof. Atul Khosla, noted author and ex-IAS officer Vivek Atray, Col. D.S.Cheema, Librarian of State Library Dr. Neeza Singh, along  with many noted writers and lovers of literature were present on the occasion.

Dr. Manju Jaidka in conversation with senior journalist, columnist, political analyst and former Resident Editor of Indian Express Vipin Pubby brought out the inspirations and the triggers that made her right such engaging and human interest stories with most of them inspired by true life events. The anthology contains twelve short stories that capture shades of human emotions and life’s realities that led her to pen down into engaging narratives.

Vipin Pubby brought to the fore the story of a senior police officer who molested a young girl and did his best to bury the crime through pressure tactics and harassment of girl’s family and got away with a mere six months imprisonment.

These are the moments of catharsis for a writer, Manju said, when you find yourself helpless in the face of social injustice, the writer has the responsibility to unveil such stories of human deprivation and injustice.  There are stories inspired by real-life incidents like that of 12 migrant labourers losing their lives just a few distances away from their home village, as also some light-hearted ones like the title story of a dog named Cato, “When Cato Played Cupid”.

Dr. Jaidka shared that her next book is a novel on the Shoolini University campus, where she heads the Department of Liberal Arts.  “I have lots of stories simmering within me that emerge from my daily busy work schedules and interactions, and at some stage, they precipitate into a poem, play, a short story, or a novel,” she remarked.