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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 11. Journey to the Black Mountains

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· 11 ·

JOURNEY TO THE BLACK MOUNTAINS1

“More and more the Indus cast its spell over her, a formidable attraction beckoning her down. And, bouncing on her hard seat in the truck, the strangely luminous air burnished her vision: the color around her deepened and intensified. They became three dimensional. Were she to reach out, she felt she could touch the darkness in the granite, hold the air in her hands, and stain her fingers in the jeweled colors of the river. Trapped between the cliffs of the gorge, the leviathan waters looked like a seething, sapphire snake.”2

The above passage is from my first novel, The Pakistani Bride.The novel is based on an actual incident involving a sixteen-year-old girl from the Punjab lowlands. To my mind the story of the bride, the girl I write about in the novel, is indelibly linked with the journey I took into the mighty Karakoram mountains, a region described by the Chinese pilgrim Fa Husen as the Black Mountains.

These mountains are at the knotted heart of what is known as the Northern Areas, the 27,000 square miles that form Pakistan’s borders with Afghanistan, Iran, India and China. They, and the thousands of square miles of mountains beyond them constitute an almost impenetrable mass, a natural barrier that has for centuries imprisoned its scant population of tribes—native to Pakistan and adjoining Afghanistan—Pashtuns, Kohistanis, Baltis, Hazaras, and a complex...

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