I have being trying to access Punjab a third time. The earlier two were when I was a kid, born away from Punjab and had heard of it in the legends and histories my parents told me. The second was when I was in Punjab from 1983-90 which has resulted in my book Roll of Honour. The first was a glorious Punjab, the second was a scared and confused Punjab. This third time I am distressed because this Punjab does not fit in with either the Punjab I grew up to like in stories or the Punjab I experienced during the terror of the days of the Punjab Problem.
This Punjab today is deeply divided, in denial, hurtling towards poverty and towards the ills of gender and caste divisions and drugs. Many Sikhs have escaped from Punjab, even believing that justice for the 1984 riots is not possible from the Indian state. The Punjabis who have migrated frown upon the Punjabis who have stayed back, often showing us down in terms of the relative advantages of those foreign counties where they now live as regulated or unregulated citizens. The British link to Operation Bluestar is an instance which prompts us to question these ways in which the Sikh community is divided.
Tags: British files, Margaret Thatcher, Mrs. Indira Gandhi, Operation Bluestar, SAS
Ankush Saikia and I had shared the stage at Stein Auditorium in December 2007 at the launch of his and my debut novels. Since then he has moved out of Delhi to Shillong and I have followed suit to Bangalore. They say, in this age, to pursue a career in literature it is important to be in Delhi. That is where the networking happens. But we decided otherwise, hoping to continue writing. If Saikia’s book is any evidence, he has done well by moving out of Delhi and depicting a reality which is true to places of the country which are not defined by how the Delhi-centred politics plays out. He uses a crime thriller to portray the social-economic reality of the North East. A worthy form which goes beyond the non-fiction essays.
Tags: Ankush Saikia, crime, North East, Shillong, The Girl From Nongrim Hills
Friends, when I had launched Sepia Leaves in the end of 2007, the manager of the store had said: your book will live for more than a decade. I had been very surprised but it seems to be true. Over the years I have been receiving messages from readers when they read Sepia Leaves. Given the nature of the book and the reading(s) I am touched by them but I keep them private. However, a few days back Kabir Khan chose to blog about the book and I am sharing his response here.
‘… I have never read something which is so close to reality, to our day to day lives.’
Tags: Kabir Khan, Sepia Leaves
Friends, since I review books I was wondering how to talk about each of the book nominated for The Hindu Prize 2013. I just finished reading all of them. I am saved the effort because Swati Daftuar did a fine job summing them up.
Here is the article.
Tags: Another Man's Wife, Foreign, Hindu Prize 2013, Roll of Honour, The Illicit Happiness of Other People, Vanity Bagh