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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 4. Reading and Writing: A Private Addiction

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READING AND WRITING: A PRIVATE ADDICTION

June 18, 20151

We were alone together one afternoon in Lahore when, in a fit of remorse, my mother suddenly unburdened herself of an old anguish. This was about fifteen years ago, when I was going through a spell of undiagnosed illnesses. Averting her penitent-schoolgirl’s face and displaying a chiseled profile, she solemnly said: “It’s my fault. I was young. When your ayah said she wanted to go to her village for a month, I panicked; I told her she could go only if she took you; A few days after she returned, you got your polio.”

It must have cost her to confess. So far as I knew no other living soul was aware of this indiscretion: or at least no one had told me. It was a grievous revelation for me to think of the pall cast over her already troubled life by such a deep well of guilt; on further consideration, though, I guessed that my father must have known also. And, even if he had tried to shield my feckless parent from the wrath and ridicule of his austere mother and her principled daughters, surely, they must have noticed my prolonged absence at that time.

My mother’s family belonged to Karachi. Since it is customary for the first child to be delivered in the maternal household, and since my grandmother ← 37 | 38 → was dead, when...

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