Safinah Elahi is a Montessori teacher, a partner in a fitness company, a soon-to-be lawyer and a budding author. Her first poetry book, The Unbridled Romance of Love and Pain, is launching on August 7 and she already has a second book in the pipeline. An ardent admirer of, and now a new addition to, the Pakistani literary world, Elahi is a promising talent to watch out for. We recently met up with the author to discover more about her and her work.
Were you always interested in reading and writing?
I didn’t start reading till I was 12, and I thought I wasn’t cut out for it. I borrowed some books like Nancy Drew from my cousins and developed my interest in reading. As I started to expand my reading, I went into my father’s study and started reading his books. Soon I’d read everything that interested me. Whenever my brother (who was studying in the U.S. at that time) would ask me what I wanted, I would tell him to get a particular book that wasn’t available in Pakistan. I still read about two books a week.
When did you start showing interest in writing?
I started writing about seven or eight years back. I started maintaining a journal of articles and poems. I also wrote travel blogs, articles for DESTINATIONS magazine, parenting magazines, online forums, etc. I used to write short stories and then one fine day I decidedly went on an adventure and started writing my own novel too.
That’s interesting; have you finished your novel?
Yes, I have. It’s with my editor and I’m speaking to a few publishers who are interested.
What is it about?
The novel is fiction, and the genre is drama. It’s about families based in Karachi, their relationships, their complexes and competition.
Let’s talk about the poetry book, The Unbridled Romance of Love and Pain. What inspired you to write it?
As I mentioned earlier, I wrote a few poems here and there. I started to really enjoy writing them recently. Sometimes, poetry is about me, sometimes it’s empathy for someone in a particular situation. I delve into what they must be feeling. Poetry for me is about conveying a feeling in minimal powerful words.
When is the launch, and where will the book be available?
The launch is on the 7th of August, and it will be available at Liberty Books, Book Mart and Tali. You can also buy it online on kitabain.com and very soon on amazon.com too.
What else do you do apart from writing, or do you do it full time?
Well, I have a day job. I teach at a Montessori called Pre-School Plus. I also co-run a fitness company with my friend Zarmina F. Salman, and I have recently taken up a law degree as well.
What are your interests?
Reading and writing! And singing! I love singing and I’m just a little more than a bathroom singer. I think it runs in the family. I haven’t received any formal training though. My brother Wajahat gifted me a Yamaha guitar which I plan to learn to play soon. I love to travel. It’s an interest my husband and I share. We plan to visit a hundred countries before we turn fifty; we are at number forty-three right now.
Tell us about your family.
I have three brothers, two of whom are based in Karachi and one lives in Dubai. I have two children, Aleesha and Affaan who are aged 10 and 6. My parents, in-laws and husband are super supportive!
Do you have any special skills?
Well, I can move my ears without touching them, haha! I also draw and paint, I have a diploma in Interior Designing and a separate one in Drawing from Indus Valley School of Arts and Architecture. I also have a Parent Educator Certification from AJ Novick. Back in the day, I did Marketing from the Institute of Business Management and completed my A-Levels from The Lyceum School. I did a year at the American University of Sharjah, where my Creative Writing professor told me to switch my Major to Bachelors of Arts in Creative Writing since he detected a flair for writing in my essays.
I quite enjoy yoga, my core form of exercise.
Can you label a headstand a skill? I can do one!
What do you do to motivate you to write?
I have joined a writer’s circle which helps me improve my work. It also makes me put aside some time for writing, as we submit short stories or poems on a bi-weekly basis. It’s great fun!