Flumes Volume 2: Issue 1, Summer 2017 - Page 24

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You know, her words were so powerful that they started making people question her. They believe that she hates India, but she really loves India. She’s like “I love India. It’s this mystical, magical place where arts and

JKB: Yeah, try harder! And I would try harder and, I think, I finally got them to meet me halfway. I didn’t want to get rid of the Punjabi [in my poems]. I’m actually taking Punjabi right now with my Punjabi professor, who is also an English major which really excited me. He said, “You can’t Romanize our Punjabi because you’ll lose the beauty of it… when you do Romanize it, you lose that beauty, that translation." He always said to me, "the biggest tragedy of Indian literature is that it’s not known. It’s our secret. But if it were to be known we’d probably be the number one country in literature.”

That was a very bold statement to make. I asked him to expand on that. He said, “I want you to read these writers,” and he gave me books of all these writers. I’m reading them now, and I’m like, “I get what you mean.” He said, “we live and breathe poetry, we live and breathe the arts, that’s who we are… We’re literature. We’re creative writing.” He said that the Vedas, the Hindu sacred texts, are all poetry that is written like beautiful songs. When I would watch [with my dad] the remakes of these, the myths I was like, “Wow! You’re so right!” It took me a while for that to click in my head. Everything is poetry; you know Hinduism formed its philosophy way before many religions did.

So yeah, I think the reason for me that I started writing was because I was tired of keeping all these words in my belly and just feeling like I don’t have the voice. So when I was reading Chitra I started exposing myself to more Indian writers. I started reading Arundati Roi. I like watching her interviews; she’s so daring and I’m going to see her. She has a new book coming out, and she’s coming to San Francisco, so I bought tickets to go watch her, because I don’t know if that’s ever going to happen [again].

I asked Jassi about Arundati Roi, because I knew nothing about her.

JKB: Arundati Roi, she’s been arrested for what she wrote in India. Her writing gets banned because she writes about things that need to be talked about. She writes about things that should be talked about in Indian culture. She criticizes the politics, she criticizes everything, and she got arrested, and I believe she had to stay in jail for that, because of what she was saying and how she was affecting the media. You know, her words were so powerful that they started making people question her. They believe that she hates India, but she really loves India. She’s like “I love India. It’s this mystical, magical place where arts and literature thrive.