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Landscapes of Writing

Collected Essays of Bapsi Sidhwa


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 16. Crusades for the Modern Era


← 108 | 109 →

· 16 ·


June 14, 20151

I visited Afghanistan in the early ’70s when it was still under King Zahir Shah. We were the guests of the Deputy Prime Minister of Afghanistan. His two children, Tehmina and Momand, studied in schools in Lahore and were our wards.

At that time, the Russian influence in Afghanistan appeared to be benign; they had built the remarkable Salang Pass and tunnel that linked the two countries and a network of highways that linked the major Afghan cities. Although it was a very poor country, Afghanistan was a moderate nation state and reasonably in touch with the times. The women in the cities wore western dresses, taught in schools and ran hospitals and government offices—and the burkha was seen only in the bazaars. In the villages and on the outskirts of cities it was still very traditional; there was strict segregation between the sexes, but the village women contributed to the economy by working in the fields and picking and preserving fruit. The Afghans are traditionally hospitable, and the simple shepherds and farmers were ready to share their all with us. Dried fruits and nuts were a major export. ← 109 | 110 →

In 1973 Zahir Shah was deposed by Sardar Dawood, a pro-Soviet President and after several subsequent unstable regimes, finally the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979 and placed a man of their choice at the...

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