Flumes Volume 2: Issue 1, Summer 2017 - Page 31

JGH: Kind of become open minded?

JKB: Yeah, become a better India, and I feel like that’s what Tagore wanted us to do, that’s why he never liked Gandhi. He would always criticize Gandhi. Tagore’s one of my favorite writers, because I love his essays about why India’s not ever going to work. He had some really great friendships with these British artists and French artists whose name I don’t remember… it's in a book over there.

We spoke more about her poem “Assad”

JKB: I want to write about it. I kept getting these dreams about these little children, and it was like a really weird spiritual awakening. I have to speak for these children and what was going on. I see my Muslim brothers and sisters and what they’re going through. It’s not like they’re the only ones going through it; we’re all going through it, because I get mistaken for Muslim all the time. It might be because my skin color is lighter and you know, you get mistaken for so many things, even my friend thought I was Muslim. It’s crazy. We still get so excited when we think we are the same. We are still the same, in India even though there’s Pakistan and then there’s India and there’s that friction, I still believe in them all being the same. I saw this really great video of a Sikh man being protected by his Muslim brothers and sisters because he was being discriminated against in Pakistan, and I was just like, “Oh, my God.”

When I was getting these children coming to me, I remember this one dream. There was, I guess, a drone. I was laying in my bed, and it was early morning. Early dawn was about to hit, and I see the drone fly that way and go toward my brother’s room. Then my brother and my mom and my dad are running off, out of the house, and then they just stand there. A little girl was just sitting on me, not letting me go, saying, “You need to stay, let them go. You need to stay. Let them get saved.”

I remember this was before the election and I thought, you know, I live in a country where this will never happen to me, but now it could happen to me. I remember the Oroville Dam evacuations. We didn’t leave. We couldn’t leave, because we couldn’t get out. There was the whole feeling of, this is actually happening to me.

JGH: Do you think that writing helped that?

JKB: Oh yeah. Not just that, but I had to get over some anxiety and let people push me around.

Jassi says that she doesn’t want to give a stereotypical impression of needing a man, but her boyfriend really helped her find the strength to ask for and go for what she wants in life and to be happy.

Soon after this Jassi’s mother comes home and comes into the room to say hello. This is the first time I have gotten to meet her, and she is just as wonderful as Jassi has described. Jassi and I have been talking for nearly two hours at this point and her mother offers to make us some lunch. Samosas are on the menu, and I am absolutely delighted.

Jassi and I get back to poetry and discuss line breaks and the fact that she uses white space as a pause.

JKB: So when you see the white space that is a pause.

When she writes a piece, she thinks about performing it. So, when she performs in front of people, she likes short lines. Pauses, she thinks, are super important and although she uses grammar in her prose, she doesn’t care as much in poetry. She also explains that, while I saw her first reading at the Sac Poetry Center at an Asian diaspora reading, she felt very out of place there.

She tells me that her boyfriend, Jay, introduced her to the poet Salvin Chahal, who I saw perform at his recent reading at Sac State. So, she went to this poets of color showcase. She really liked how he performs. She says this is where she connected. Salvin’s poetry rips your guts out. Jassi thinks we should teach young people to believe they can write without out being pretentious, to just be real.

Her mother lets us know now that she has prepared the samosas, for which I am so grateful because I am getting hungry. Jassi’s mother only speaks Punjabi but Jassi translates, and we have a sort of motherly kind of understanding as well. The samosas are delicious, and she serves it to me with chutney, relieved that I do not find the spiciness off-putting. I actually rather enjoy it. Shortly after we eat and chat for a while, and after Jassi’s mother and grandmother flatter me by telling me that I have a joyous spirit, Jassi’s mother packs me some samosas to go.


Lovelace, Jessica Sanga