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Landscapes of Writing

Collected Essays of Bapsi Sidhwa

Series:

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 3. Lahore: Landscapes of My Writing

Extract

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LAHORE: LANDSCAPES OF MY WRITING

November 4, 2009

To belong to Lahore is to be steeped in its romance, to inhale with each breath an intensity of feeling that demands expression. I have spent most of my life in Lahore, and the city of eight million provides the geographical location of my novels. Its ambience has molded my sensibility and also my emotional responses.

The very spelling of this hoary city causes one to indulge in linguistic antics—as I did in my first novel, The Pakistani Bride: “Lahore—the ancient whore, the handmaiden of dimly remembered Hindu kings, the courtesan of Mughal emperors—bedecked and bejeweled, savaged by marauding hordes—healed by the caressing hands of successive lovers. A little shoddy, as Qasim saw her; like an attractive but aging concubine, ready to bestow surprising delights on those who cared to court her—proudly displaying Royal gifts.”1

Lahore is said to be named after an ancient Hindu king Loh. But, Lahore as we know it today owes its splendor to the Mughal Emperors. Akbar rebuilt its massive Fort, which Jahangir and Shah Jahan later expanded further. Shah Jahan, famous for the Taj Mahal in Delhi, also commissioned the ← 27 | 28 → terraced Shalimar Gardens in Lahore. But if I close my eyes it is the Badshahi Mosque, its massively billowing marble domes ignited by the setting sun as one approaches the city from the...

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