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‘Literature is not a tool to settle agendas’

By January 30, 2019No Comments

Source : The New Indian Express

Feminist poet Dr Rashmi Bajaj needs no introduction. She has to her credit five collections of poems and an internationally-acclaimed  critique Women Indo-Anglian Poets.

Feminist poet Dr Rashmi Bajaj needs no introduction. She has to her credit five collections of poems and an internationally-acclaimed critique Women Indo-Anglian Poets. Known for her bold stance in writing, Rashmi owes her poetic skills to her maternal grandfather who used to write Urdu poems. Though born and brought up in the small town of Bhiwani (Haryana), she was always encouraged to make a life beyond a stereotypical woman. That’s quite expected though — her mother holds the distinction of being the first girl to graduate in Bhiwani, which means that it’s not just writing skills that she got in her genes but also her liberal and progressive views.


Rashmi began composing poems when she was very small, about the age of eight or nine — an age when kids read poems, not write them. When a local newspaper published her poem, she became a celebrity of sorts. “My poem was a philosophical piece on life — its joys and sorrows, success and failure, birth and death. Needless to say in the small town of Bhiwani, it was much talked about,” she says.

People appreciated her sensitivity. But to Rashmi, it all came naturally. Her writings are the direct result of the pain and anguish she has been seeing all around her. Growing up in Bhiwani, she was witness to sexist, highly patriarchal, and at times misogynist behaviour all around. “I was a direct witness to sufferings of so many girls and women inside and outside the family. I saw girls born as ‘unwanted children’, victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse. I saw dowry deaths and inhuman treatment meted out to girls. I saw women not being recognized even as human beings,” she says. So, as she grew up, these women issues took a centre stage in her writings.

“My writing is not ‘art for art’s sake’ rather it is ‘art for life’s sake’. I find myself strongly responding to society around and its various issues. Much of my poetry, which you call feminist is humanist to me,” she remarks.

Apart from gender issues, Rashmi also writes on political and socio-cultural issues. One of her books, Jurrat Khwaab Dekhne Ki, is totally dedicated to political affairs in the country. “Everything is politicized these days. It is not just politicians but even the intellectuals, litterateurs and the activists who have let the common people down,” she says pointing out that intellectual discourses have become akharas for promotion of a particular ideology.

“Literature is becoming a tool to settle political agendas. I strongly believe that a real writer must transcend all petty politics and speak of humanity and human issues. A writer should be an instrument to enlighten society, create positivity and make people more sensible and sensitive human beings,” she opines, lamenting that dominant contemporary Hindi literature does not seem to be doing much of that.



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