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Landscapes of Writing

Collected Essays of Bapsi Sidhwa

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Bapsi Sidhwa

Edited By Teresa Russo

This book is a collection of essays by international writer Bapsi Sidhwa gathered for the first time in one edition by Teresa Russo, with a foreword written by Oscar-nominated filmmaker Deepa Mehta. Landscapes of Writing: Collected Essays of Bapsi Sidhwa provides a writer’s perspective on issues of South Asian literature, linguistics, poetry, and views of political events and globalization. In the first part of the book, Bapsi Sidhwa discusses her childhood, family life, and how she became a writer. There is also a revised essay detailing how her book Cracking India became a film by Deepa Mehta. The second part of the book focuses on her thoughts concerning war, terrorism, and how to achieve peace. This collection includes two letters, demonstrating her local and nationalistic perspectives to a larger view of an interconnected world.

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Chapter 1. Why and How I Write

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WHY AND HOW I WRITE

June 8, 2017

I was about two when I got polio. The doctors advised my parents that since polio affected the nerves they should not send me to school. I was not to be burdened with things like geometry and exams. “She isn’t going to become a lawyer or a professor, is she?,” they asked. “She’ll get married, have babies, and lead a comfortable life.” Consequentially, when I was about eight, I was handed over to Mrs. Penherow a middle-aged Anglo-Indian woman, for light private tutoring. I remember the solitary tedium of those hours.

Yet the care that was lavished on me at home, and the two surgeries that followed, must have served me well because a decade later I was able to run up and down steep mountain paths near our summer house in Nathya Gali—a hill-station nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas from which we could glimpse, on clear days, the lofty Nanga Parbat.

In retrospect the creeping encroachment of my isolation, the arbitrary withdrawal of my right to be among other children at school, caused an increasing erosion of my self-regard. The psyche (that was left intact by my polio and had in fact waxed robust for the next few years) was destroyed, unwittingly perhaps, by the doctor. However, I have concluded from the ← 3 | 4 → history of my particular providence that almost every apparent...

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