Priya Balasubramanian

Physician and Writer


I came to writing relatively late in life, and at the most inopportune of times. I had just finished the gruelling years of residency and fellowship, and started my first real job. Of my two children, one was not quite two years old. I hadn't written anything creative for years. And yet there I was, attempting with the determination of the foolhardy, to write a novel. It was one that was propelled by an image that arrived out of nowhere and with increasing frequency: an old white sari clad woman with a child holding on to her little finger. I had no idea yet of the book it would become, or the years it would take to write.

Years passed. I got to know the little girl, Mira, her grandmother, the white sari clad Ajji, and all the people who filled their world. The novel grew, and it changed. What began almost as an ode to my childhood home, Bangalore, became progressively darker. Long held disquiets made their way into the novel. There was corruption, political expediency, inequality of many types, betrayal and treachery. There were surprises; there was redemption. And finally, there it was, the book I called The Alchemy of Secrets.

Along the way, I found strangers who became dear friends. There were people, places and experiences that I encountered only because I wrote. There were workshops and books on craft. There was the constant self-doubt that is so common to anyone who writes, and mine felt more deserved than most. There was rejection, and heartbreak. There was, and is, joy.

For years I wrote in secret. Even when it was no longer a secret, I hesitated to use that word: Writer. But here we are, at this space. It's an online home for my writing self, quite separate from the world I inhabit each day. I hope that you stay awhile, and that you find something new, possibly interesting or amusing, each time you visit.