GLF: Being a language writer, do you think you are not getting due recognition at the national level?
A. I have been a journalist of the English language, a translator from Punjabi and Hindi into English, I consciously chose to write poetry in Punjabi, my mother tongue which I did not study formally. My primary interest has been in writing of the Indian languages including Urdu, Bangla, Malyalam. As a journalist I played a pioneering role in introducing lesser known or new Indian language writers into English newspapers. I have not bothered about recognition at any level, I simply earned it my maverick way. What pleases me most is a fan’s letter, now email or ‘phone call, from a Punjab village.
GLF: Can literature influence social life? Do you think a writer should be socially responsible?
A. It was Lawrence Durrel who said that individuals build their lives on select fiction. Of course, literature influences social life. Our Bhakti and Sufi traditions are witness to it and have given thought new direction. A writer has to be socially conscious and responsible to be a writer. In absence of that one can be a scribbler but certainly not a writer!
GLF: Can literary festivals make progressive changes to the language literature?
A. Literary festivals should make progressive changes to language literature with an open mind of giving and receiving. Language chauvinism helps no one. This is the reason by the Gateway Festival of Indian Literature is so welcome.
GLF: Did you ever felt ill-treated or deprived of your due for being a writer in vernacular languages (vis-à-vis the so called mainstream writers who chose English as their medium)?
A. People who know just one language be it the power-language of English may put on the patronizing act but truly they feel envious of those who can move so easily among different languages. Even for those writing in English, the knowledge of one ‘native’ language is a valuable asset.
GLF: There are numerous glitzy events packed by glitterati being celebrated in the country under the guise of literary festivals in up-market show places. What do you think about `Gateway Litfest’ and how is it different from such up-market events?
A. I am told it has an exceptional synergy but I am attending it for the first time and looking forward to it greatly. I will be able to tell you more competently after experiencing it.
GLF: Your views on the dominant plot of storytelling in year 2018.
A. The story should be close to your heart and as they say told in your language. ‘Your language’ here means, your perception, belief and originality. That has always been the dominant plot of storytelling and so it will be in the year 2018.