Akriti Jamwal. Updated: 1/15/2020 2:43:18 PM We the Women

In this edition WE THE WOMEN has brought for you about the journey and accomplishments of a next door Jammu girl who is penning her way up. Pankhuri Aggarwal might be nascent in the world of publication, but her work has gravitated people with flair for poetry. She has won Kunwar Viyogi Young Writers Award for the debut book and has become the first poetess from the city whose first book has been selected to be included in the Oxford Library. Read on to know more about her.

Pankhuri seems like a regular girl, who is pursuing PhD in English literature from Jammu University, but don’t make the mistake of reading her by the cover. She has established herself as a versatile poet lately, in a short period of time; she is keen observer of fine details of life and pens it down like pearls in a necklace.
The collection of 101 untitled poems entitled ‘The petals of reminiscence: A step back in time’ which is celebrating its first anniversary of publication this January, is a beautiful read with each poem reflecting on some aspect of life; encapsulating longing, love, companionship, distress, death, sorrow, separation, triumphs, loss, rejection and redemption.
“I’ve always been a sensitive one; I feel a special connection with people around and my environment. Penning down my feelings on paper has helped me understand myself better, “says Pankhuri.
Pankhuri shares, “After presenting her collections of poems at a festival at New Delhi, she was approached by Oxford Library, New Delhi, to get them published in a book form for award inclusion in the prestigious library.”
On being inquired about the process, she shares, “As much as I understand, for Oxford library, the publisher nominates a book and it has to be listed for a month in the library to get included. Based on reviews, sales and content, it could get through by different categories.”
According to Pankhuri, since its cold, Mornings, in the warmth of sun, in fresh air, around the nature, with a cup of coffee or tea, is the best time to read the book. I agree, because despite being a simple read it can cause commotion of emotions that on must not go to bed with. It is sometimes relatable and other times induces curiosity and pops up questions.
Each piece truly feels gentle, light and stunning like a petal but carries immense energy that must have led Pankhuri to pen them down. Reading it is like pulling out petals of a flower but watching it in reverse. Since the poems are untitled and there isn’t any index, the best way is to read it without any bookmark and just open and start from a random page, three to four poems at a time.
Pankhuri has presented her book to renowned lyric writer Gulzar. Lately she presented paper on Mahabharata at University of Vienna, the subject which is part of her thesis as well, and there she presented her poetic work too; appreciation was obvious. She also added poetic flavors in YAYAVAR- Jammu literary Festival.

Born to Rakhi and Rajesh Aggarwal, Pankhuri describes her childhood as simple and serene. She expresses, “My parents have been immensely supportive. Unlike most parents they never told me or my sister to make those certain career choices; we had the freedom to choose. Only condition was that whatever we choose, we must give it our best. Arushi, my sister is a Chef today and loves what she does.”
From very young age the creative bent was inculcated in Pankhuri by her parents. She shares, “I remember when during vacation we'd visit my material grandmother’s in Kanpur, we were given art books and crayons or other times a story book during the journey. I’d read and write along with my sister and cousins there as well. I was deeply attached to my maternal Grandmother and she always encouraged me.”
Talking about the first instance she remembers that led her to write and get her work published, Pankhuri says, “I once wrote for a local supplement of National Newspaper- It was a Q&A section. To my surprise it got published; it boosted my moral as I had no formal training just a flair. Yes, in school I used to participate in calligraphy and writing competition but this was a great validation, especially when they mailed me back to offer me to write for them as a freelance writer.”
Even though Pankhuri had scored impressively in English throughout school, it was such encouragement that led her to choose to pursue Master's in English. When one is bright student they are deemed to choose certain streams, as others are believed to be under their level.
But Pankhuri has made her choices not based upon what people think is appropriate for her but what she thought was right for her. This is why picking Commerce and not Science after scoring wonderfully in 10th came as a surprise and so did picking up English after graduating in Commerce.
But whatever she has done she has put in her best and had best results. Pankhuri completed Masters in English securing first position in the University and was awarded university Scholarship for pursuing M.Phil, which she completed securing Highest grade “O”- outstanding for her thesis. Meanwhile she has had her research articles published in renounced national and international journals and has been a part of many conferences and presented her paper there.
But what led her to pen down hundred and one poems in a period of around one year was something else. She expresses, “I was not into poetry, neither reading nor writing, moreover it is different from writing articles and stories. It was when I lost my maternal Grandmother, with whom I was immensely attached and loved, the grief made the words flow. That's why my book is dedicated to her.”
She adds, “Whatever I am socially and morally is her reflection. When I lost her writing poetry came naturally. I used to make my mother read it and since she was grieving as well, she could tell that my words truly expressed my feelings”
Was getting those poems published in her mind when she was writing them down? Pankhuri says, “I wasn't planning to get my work published, mostly because I was apprehensive of the reaction. But when I submitted few of the poems in a competition and to my surprise scored well, they encouraged me to write more and get it published.”
She adds, “Even after getting it published it hasn’t been about sales but about getting people to read it and give feedbacks.”
Talking about what’s next Pankhuri tells, "I am planning to write two books, self-help book and a fiction; even if I write romance I would want to ensure that there's a social message in it. But for now I am focusing on finishing my thesis for the doctorate degree."
Not just write, she paints as well and she does it as good as writing poems. She has been part of national painting exhibition held at Kala Kendra where she exhibited two of her paintings. Her work even gets sold online which speaks about its quality in itself.
Pankhuri shares, “I love to paint and do craft work. Recently, started a venture under the name PanKhoj on Fb to promote my passion for paintings and craft work. I’ve held three painting and craft exhibitions at Jammu Club and G D Goenka School.”
Talking about women of Jammu, Pankhuri says that she believes women here are inherently talented but lack support and right platforms. And what’s left is marred by the social disparities and prejudices they face, which makes them lose faith in themselves. Her message to the women out there is, “Follow your passion; we fall back when we criticize ourselves to the point that we lose confidence in ourselves. Don’t procrastinate and achieve your goals with perseverance.”

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