‘Keerru’ by Fauzia Rafique reviewed by Rashid Javed Ahmed

Translated from Punjabi

Keerru : Punjabi novel

Novelist : Fauzia Rafique

Review : Rashid Javed Ahmed

It was by mere chance that I got to read this unique Punjabi novelette, thanks to Author Ayesha Aslam. Before this I had read Fauzia Rafique Jee’s poetry and I had published her Urdu poem ‘Zindagi thee / it was life’ in my magazine. I knew Fauzia Rafique Jee with reference to her work with Pakistan television Lahore where in better times my Punjabi and Urdu plays were also presented. I came to know of her earlier novel ‘Skeena’, and I have made a request to Sanjh Publication’s Amjad Saleem Minhas, Skeena’s publisher, for a copy. I will definitely read it if I get it.

Keerru is the story of Mohammad Hussain Keerru who is accused of blasphemy, he first escapes to Karachi from Lahore and then leaves for Canada. In Canada, he sees many colors of life and he adapts. Keerru’s mother arrives from Pakistan. She tells her story from the 1947 partition of the Punjab, what happened to her then, and how being a Christian she had to live in a Muslim cultural environment. She brings the novel to the next level by relating her story and talking about her marriage with Keerru’s father.   

In this novella every character tells us about their life themselves, and in this way Fauzia Rafique Jee has presented this story in a beautiful manner. There are five characters in the novelette: Keerru, Haleema, Naila, Isabella and Daljit. The story revolves around these people who have come out of their own countries to settle in Canada. The story of these characters creates a naked image of the class injustices and societal contradictions rampant in the Indian Subcontinent.

Haleema is the main character of this novelette, and her full name is Haleema Alice Bibi. Working as a servant in rich people’s homes, poor family’s daughter Haleema who never got the opportunity to go to school, is actually the most aware character of all. Haleema is a woman belonging to the lowest tier of her society and despite facing the various difficulties that life had subjected her to, and in spite of all the pain, hardship and sorrow, she still is able to have a sane mind. She is a personification of the highest values of humanity. Through Haleema’s character, Fauzia Jee has weaved all kinds of exploitation and injustice- whether religious or societal- so artfully that it has become its class identity. This is such a character created by the novelist that becomes the precursor for the whole body of thought behind the novella. Haleema and other people like her, die working day and night physically and mentally trying to sustain the systems of their lives. In this society, some people, some very few people try to support them but even they keep them out of their class. Living like insects, they believe that this is their fate and to change it or to come out of it is not in their power.

The second big character of the novelette is Haleema’s son Keerru. Saving his life from religious extremists, somehow, he arrives in Canada, and after working menial jobs for many years, he becomes the owner of a garments company. He has brought his mother over too who now lives with him and she takes good care of him and his friends. People often ask her the reasons why she named her son ‘keerru’, but to hear her answer, you’ll have to read the novelette because what will be the benefit in writing everything here. But I will definitely say one thing that Keerru’s character is a strange character who hates the reality of his inner self, there can’t be a bigger torture than this. I believe the name Keerru is given to him not by Haleema but by Fauzia Rafique herself, and what an amazing choice. Other than praising the beauty of the Punjabi language used, much admiration for using this name.

I will not talk about the rest of the characters because that would mean revealing most of the story, neither am I giving any ‘basic theme’ but the characters Fauzia Rafiq jee has created are full of life and they have distinct characteristics of their own. Through these characters, the readers come to know of the pain of exploitation of women and then the description of a charater’s rebellion as a way to come out of it. Repression of women has many forms and one of those is coercion and violence from man or husband, and many writers have spoken about it in their writings but what is a plus point with Fauzia Jee is that she did not make it into a slogan but through the story she has shown that the strength to be free of repression is also within women’s selves. Similarly, you will see the tall walls of social apartheid and casteism in the novelette.

I am not a critic but a reader of Punjabi and Urdu literature, and I have much appreciation for Fauzia Jee’s characterization. Five characters tell their stories in the language of ordinary people, sometimes they go in their pasts, then return to the present but the continuity of the story is never broken. The environment is described so well that the reader feels himself to be present there and everything passes in front of his eyes like a film.

About Keerru and Daljit’s relationship, Fauzia Jee has mentioned Shah Hussain and Madhu Lal, Bulleh Shah and Shah Inayat. Some people may object to it but I am in agreement with Fauzia Jee on this pointer.

I am very happy to have read Fauzia Jee’s novelette.     

Read Punjabi original at Penslips Magazine

View it on YouTube

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Punjabi Monthly magazine PANCHAM becomes a Quarterly publication


Quarterly Pancham, Jan-Feb-March 2020
Eds. Faiza Raa’na & Maqsood Saqib

Lahore’s longstanding literary Punjabi magazine, Pancham, makes a smart move to become a quarterly after a prolonged struggle to be a self-reliant monthly publication. This may allow for a larger selection and even richer literary content.

Pancham publishes poetry, fiction, literary criticism and non fiction. Edited and published by renowned authors Faiza Raa’na and Maqsood Saqib, it has been recognized as being the best literary Punjabi magazine in both the East and the West Punjab.

Published in the Shahmukhi script since 1998, Pancham is a continuation of Maan Boli, a magazine that was brought out from Lahore by some of the same team leaders and members that had continued publishing from 1986 to 1997. For more, connect with the Pancham community on Facebook:
Pancham Sulaikh SaNg (Punjabi Literary Group)

Yearly Subscriptions
Pakistan RS1000
India RS1000
International US$20

To subscribe, contact Maqsood Saqib at
+92 306 1679936
suchet2001@yahoo.com
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Uddari Weblog is published from
the unceded Coast Salish territories of
the Semiahmoo, Katzie, Kwikwetlem, Kwantlen,
Qayqayt, Tsawwassen, Musqueam,
Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations.

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The Best Selling Punjabi Novel: Skeena

skeena-punjabi-cover

I am delighted to share with you the news that my first novel Skeena has become ‘the most-sold Punjabi novel’ of all times in Pakistan. In an email message, Publisher Amjad Salim Minhas said that ‘Sakina is the most sold Punjabi novel Sanjh has ever published; it is also the most sold Punjabi novel in Pakistan’.

This best-selling Shahmukhi Punjabi edition was published in 2007, and it was the most-launched book in Pakistan with events held in nine cities, each in partnership with local writers and literary organisations. This also made it the ‘most reviewed Punjabi book‘; and, the only novel that brought the movement for Punjabi language rights to the fore at each of its launching events.

It is interesting to note that Author Anthony Dalton’s 2011 predictions about Skeena’s English edition are sl–ow–ly but surely coming to pass in Punjabi, though we still have to see how the Gurmukhi edition does in the Indian Punjab where Skeena has never been published or marketed.

My gratitude to the readers, reviewers, peers; the publisher, editor, all members of the production team; and, the funders and supporters of Skeena’s Shahmukhi Punjabi edition for this profound and rewarding experience.

Thank you.

Fauzia
gandholi.wordpress.com
novelskeena.wordpress.com

Contact Uddari
uddariweblog@gmail.com
Facebook
facebook.com/UddariWeblog
Twitter
twitter.com/UddariWeblog
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Welcome Radical Desi in Surrey this Sunday March 23/14

Uddari welcomes the launch of Radical Desi, a new monthly magazine, and congratulates Gurpreet Singh and his team for initiating it. Below is the cover page of the first issue, an introduction and some information about its launching ceremony tommorrow.

radicaldesi1

Radical Desi
Monthly magazine on alternative politics
Official Launch
Sunday, March 23, 2014
2-5 pm
Dr. Ambedkar Room (418)
City Centre Library
10350 University Drive, Surrey

The launching ceremony will be held during Dialogue on Bhagat Singh’s Atheism. Those on the panel will include the author of Naastik Basni and a known atheist Sadhu Binning, the Centre for Inquiry leader Pat O’ Brien and the leader of the Canadian Taraksheel Sabha, Avtar Gill.

Get free copies of the first edition of Radical Desi at the event. Those who are unable to attend will have an option to grab free copies at the parade being organized by the Guru Ravidas Sikh Temple in Burnaby on Saturday, March 22, 2014 and also at the annual community march against racism in Vancouver near Cambie and Hastings the same day.

We encourage everyone to be there at 1:30 pm as we plan to start the event at 2 pm sharp. Each panelist will be given 20 minutes to speak. The panel discussion will be followed by Q&A session.

Bhagat Singh was a towering Indian revolutionary- who was hanged by the British Indian government alongside Sukhdev and Rajguru on March 23, 1931. Bhagat Singh died as an atheist, yet there are attempts to appropriate his struggle by the religious fundamentalists within the South Asian community. The discussion on atheism and free thinking on his martyrdom day will be a fitting tribute to him. Please join us and feel free to ask questions to continue the dialogue that is necessary for the progress of humanity.

For more information on both events:
Gurpreet Singh, Director
Radical Desi Publications Ltd.
Phone: 778-862-2454
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Call For Submissions: Dhahan International Punjabi Literature Prize – March 15/14

For months, i have watched with apprehension and excitement the development of Dhahan International Punjabi Literature Prize, and now after its launch(es) i am happy to report that it is indeed a giant(!) leap(!) forward for Punjabi literature. Not just because the prize money is substantial at $25,000 (all scripts, and with two runner-ups of $5,000, one each for Gurumukhi and Shahmukhi), but also because it is one of the few initiatives that recognizes Punjabi in it’s totality and so claims the history and development of its literature across scripts, national/ethnic boundaries, and religious divides.

Submission Guidelines
Date January 15 – March 1 (online), with hard-copies due by March 15.
Format PDF version and a Printed Copy
Genre Fiction – novels, novellas, short story collections
Edition Original first editions only. Reprints or translations are not eligible.
Publishing Date During 2013
Books Published by ‘recognized’ and ‘independent’ publishers only. No self-published books.

Download Call for Submissions
English
Gurumukhi
Shahmukhi
(Note revised date: Jan 15 – March 1 (online), with hard-copies due by March 15)

Uddari fully supports this wonderful initiative as it is one of the fruits of our labour. Dhahan Prize is so valuable because it recognizes:
. Punjabi writers anywhere in the World. In South Asia and outside.
. Punjabi literature in both its major scripts, Gurumukhi and Shahmukhi.
. Importance of fiction, long and short, in the development of a literature.
. Rights of Punjabi writers by offering them the first yearly living wage.

The Prize will for sure get some serious attention from Punjabi writers around the world where only a few can or have depended on their creative writing for a living. I am talking about those stubborn people who insisted on writing in Punjabi when their world was pushing it aside and saying that there’s no future in writing in Punjabi; the people who were told by non-royalties-paying Punjabi publishers that their work is not good enough for money; and, that not many wanted to read them anyway.

Dhahan Prize will create a surge in the readership of Punjabi books because writers are the very first readers of books.

At Uddari Weblog, we are in a celebratory mode because Dhahan Prize strengthens many of our goals and objectives.

Fauzia Rafique
gandholi.wordpress.com
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Related posts on Uddari
Dhahan International Punjabi Literature Prize – Launch Vancouver Oct 8/13
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‘YaaN koi oho jeha – یاں کوئی اوہو جیہا ‘ by Zubair Ahmad

A Punjabi poem by Zubair Ahmad.

Din khali se
sarrkeiN vug geya
dau tin var murr ke takeya
ik adh vaar khyal peya
yaaN taaN se oho
yaaN koi oho jeha
..

دِن خالی سی
سڑکیں وگ گیا
دو تن وار مُڑ کے تکیا
اک ادّھ وار خیال پیا
یاں تاں سی اوہو
یاں کوئی اوہو جیہا

زبیر احمد
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From Zubair Ahmad’s new collection of poems ‘Sadd’ (Call), Sanjh Publications, Lahore 2012

Contact Zubair
kitab.trinjan@gmail.com
https://www.facebook.com/zubair.ahmad.73
https://www.facebook.com/groups/KitabTrinjan/?fref=ts

uddariblog@gmail.com
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Uddari-Weblog/333586816691660
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URGENT: Coming Together for Ahmad Salim – London August 4/12

Author/Archivist Ahmad Salim, winner of Pakistan’s Pride of Performance, is very ill and will probably undergo liver transplant within the next THREE to FOUR months.

In spite of his suffering, he is concerned about archives of South Asian Research and Resource Centre (SARRC) that he worked hard to build over decades. Now, the SARRC materials are used by researchers worldwide.

Friends in UK are taking the lead by inviting you to a meeting to discuss what we can do for Ahmad Salim and for the continuation of SARRC. If you don’t live in London or cannot attend the meeting, please contact Nuzhat or Abbas at:
abbas1960@gmail.com

More information on Ahmad Salim
https://uddari.wordpress.com/2010/08/19/pride-of-performance-for-ahmad-salim/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ahmad_Salim

Date and Time: Saturday 4 August 1500 to 1700 hours
Venue: C/o Rashad Aslam,
Adam Bernard Solicitors
25 Barking Road, Upton Park
London E6 1PW
Mobile (Rashad Aslam): 07833 345 535

Hope to see all of you there.

RSVP
Nuzhat and Abbas
Mobile Nuzhat: 07962 426 065
Mobile Abbas: 07890 844 149
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Punjabi monthly magazine Pancham now available online

Update: please view this post for updated information about Pancham:
Punjabi Monthly magazine moves to Quarterly publication

Lahore’s literary Punjabi monthly magazine ‘Pancham’ is now available to read online. Edited by Faiza and Maqsood Saqib, ‘Pancham’ publishes poetry, fiction, literary criticism and non fiction. The publication is a continuation, in spirit, of the fine traditions of monthly ‘Maanboli’.

Led by Maqsood Saqib, the team that produces monthly Pancham and publishes Punjabi books from Suchet Kitab Ghar, has also created two pages on Facebook that are initiating robust discussions on aspects of Punjabi literature.
Pancham Sulaikh SaNg
http://www.facebook.com/groups/187000121364896/
Fareed Rang
http://www.facebook.com/groups/312103068831819/

More on Maqsood Saqib
https://uddari.wordpress.com/2009/04/26/brilliante-punjab-offering-to-a-writer-an-editor-and-a-reader/

Pancham at Uddari Publishers’ page: https://uddari.wordpress.com/punjabi-authors-publishers/#PANCHAM

Contact Pancham
Street Address
11 Sharaf Mansion, 16 Queens Road
Chauk Ganga Ram
Lahore, Pakistan
Website
http://puncham.com/
Phone
(+92) 42 36308265
Email
info@puncham.com
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‘What Book and Literature Festivals!!! کیہڑے کتاب تے سُلیکھ میلے !!!’ by Zubair Ahmad

اجکل دکھڻی لہندے ایشیاء وچ کتاب تے سُلیکھ (ادب) میلیاں دا ہڑھ آیا ہویا اے۔ اک میلہ مُکدا اے تے دوجے دا رولا چھوہ پیندا اے۔ پچھے جے پور دے میلے دی دُھم سی جتھے ساڈے دیس توں عائشہ جلال تے فاطمہ بھٹو نے رلت کیتی۔ تے رپوٹ موجب میلہ وی لُٹ لیا۔ ایتھے عائشہ جلال جی مخول مخول وچ ایہہ گل وی کہہ گئے پئی ہڻ پاکستان دا نمبر اک ویری بھارت نہیں سگوں امریکا اے تے بھارت تیجے نمبر اُتے چلا گیا اے ۔ کسے نے پُچھیا 2 نمبر ویری کوڻ اے اوہناں ہسدے ہسدے آکھیا میر خیال اے اسرائیل۔

ایتھے ای بھارت وچ پاکستانی سفیر ایہہ وی آکھیا پئی بھارت نال امن دے وشے اُتے فوج، ساریاں سیاسی پارٹیاں تے لوک اکو پنّے اُتے نیں۔ اُنج ایس میلے وچ بوہتا رولا سلمان رُشدی دے آؤڻ دا سی پر اوس ورودھ وکھالے چھوہ پئے تے اوہ ڈردا نہیں آیا۔ پھیر آکھیا اوس دی وڈیو راہیں گل بات وکھائی جائے گی اگلیاں ایہہ وی نہ ہووڻ دتا۔ ایس میلے وچ سبھ توں ودھ ہند سندھ دے انگریزی لکھڻ آلے لکھاریاں دا آدر کیتا گیا لوک اوہناں نُوں سُڻن لئی اُتاولے سن۔ میں ہندوستان دیاں دوجیاں بولیاں وچ لکھڻ آلے لکھاریاں دے ناں لبھدا رہیا پر پتہ نہیں سارے لوک بولیاں دی لکھاری کتھے گواچ گئے نیں۔ نرے اوہناں لکھاریاں دی چڑھت اے جو بھاویں پاکستان دی ہووڻ یاں ہندوستان یاں انگلستان دے بس اوہناں دا انگریزی وچ لکھڻا شرط اے۔

جے پُور دے میلے مگروں لہور وچ ست دناں دا کتاب میلہ ہویا ایتھے وی جنے لوک انگریزی دیاں کتاباں دے سٹال اُتے سڻ اونے اسلامی تے اُردو دیاں کتاباں دے سٹال اُتے نہیں سڻ۔ صاف نظر آؤند ا پیا سی پئی جنی کمائی انگریزی کتاباں دی سٹال اُتے ہوندی پئی اے اوس دے تول وچ اسلامی کتاباں تے اُردو والے مکھیاں ای ماردے پئے سڻ۔ ایہہ ساڈی کوئی اُردو نال لڑائی دی گل نہیں سگوں ایہہ سچ اے پئی انگریزی اُردو نوں کھا گئی اے۔ ساڈی بولی پنجابی دی تاں کوئی تھاں نہیں سی ایس لئی ساڈی تھاں تاں کوئی کُھسی نہیں پر اُردو دی کوئی تھاں نہیں رہی ہڻ معتبر لکھاری انتظار حُسین نہیں وکرم سیٹھ اے یاں پھیر ولایت وسدا حنیف قریشی اے۔ یاں پھیر ولیم ڈلریپر اے یاں پھیر اکسپلوڈنگ مینگو والا حنیف محمد اے۔

ایہہ ساریاں گلاں میں اج مُکے کراچی سُلیکھ میلے پاروں کہہ رہیا آں۔ کراچی اُردو دا گڑھ اے پر بوہتے نویں انگریزی لکھڻ آلے وی کراچی وچ جمدے پئے نیں۔ کراچی میلے دے 27 اکٹھاں وچوں نرے ست اُردو دے لکھاریاں بارے سڻ۔ تے سارا میلہ ہندوستان تے ولایت تُوں آئے لکھاریاں نیں لُٹیا۔ اک دو گلاں بڑیاں مزے دار نیں۔ کشور بہامنی دے سوال ”اوہ کیہڑے مدھیم وچ گل کرنا پسند کردے نیں” جگ دُھمی لکھارڻ شوبھا دیوی نے آکھیا :” ایہہ نہیں اے پئی تسیں کیہڑا مدھیم چُڻدے او سگوں گل ایہہ وے پئی تُسیں کیہہ گل کرنا چاہندے اوہ۔ اِنج ای ولایت وسدے لکھاری حنیف قریشی توں ایہہ پُچھیا گیا پئی اوہ آپڻی سیہاڻ دے سوال نُوں کیویں لیندے نیں تے اوہناں آکھیا :” میں ہڻ سوچڻا چھڈ دتا اے پئی میں کوڻ آں۔”

پر کیہہ ایس نال بندے دی سیہاڻ دا سوال مُک جاندا اے۔ تُسی لکھاری او انگریزی وچ لکھدے او ولایت رہندے اوہ پر تُسی انگریز تاں نہیں۔ کتے نہ کتے تاں سیہاڻ دا سوال دبی بیٹھے او۔

پر اصل گل ایہہ وے پئی دُنیا بدل رہی اے اُنج نہیں جیویں اسیں چاہیا سی۔اُردو دی تھاں انگریزی آ گئی اے۔ ایس پچھے کیہڑے سیاسی تے وسیبی کارن نیں اوہناں نوں لبھڻ تے اوہناں اُتے گل کرن دی لوڑ اے۔

پہلی گل تاں ایہہ وے پئی انگریزی دی فتح راس وال(سرمایہ داری) دی فتح اے۔ اوس دی بولی دی فتح اے۔ قوم پوجا دا وارا مُک گیا ہڻ گلوبل ویلیج دا وارا اے تے اوس دی بولی ای چلے گی۔ دوجی گل وچلے میل (مڈل کلاس) دا کھلار تے اوس دا جگت گیر ہوڻا اے۔ ایہو وچلا میل سی جو عبداﷲ حُسین دے ناول لبھ لبھ پڑھدا سی جو ہڻ حنیف محمد دا نواں ناول اُڈیک رہیا ہوندا اے۔ یاں پھیر اُردو دی آپڻی کہاڻی مُک گئی اے؟ ایہہ سوال نیں۔ جو نویں سیاست چُکدی پئی اے پراڻے ڈگدے وسیب وچ ویکھو نویں کیہہ واپردی پئی اے۔ ایس ویلے لوک بولی دے لکھاری نوں جنا سُچیت ہووڻ دی لوڑ اے خورے کدی وی نہیں سی۔

From Wichaar:
http://www.wichaar.com/news/124/ARTICLE/27992/2012-02-14.html

Zubair Ahmad is a poet, author, editor and educator residing in Lahore, Pakistan. Contact Zubair at:
kitab.trinjan@gmail.com
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Not just ‘like’ – LOVE the Preetlari Trust

Preetlari Trust, the publisher of monthly Preetlari, is catching a second wind via Facebook where Activist Shumita Didi Sandhu, Editor Poonam Singh, Publisher Ratikant Singh and other supporters are coming together to strengthen a lasting literary publishing tradition in the Punjab.

The trust was formed in 1984 in the aftermath of the killing by the militants of the then Editor of Preetlari, Sumeet Singh. Since then, Poonam and Ratikant have been publishing the magazine, and in that, the guiding roles of Sh. P.H. Vaishnav, Dr. Maan Singh Nirankaari, Smt. Mohinder Navtej Singh and Smt. Santosh Balraj Sahni are much appreciated.

With the publishing of Preetlari magazine, Preetlari Trust also organizes literary and social events in Preetnagar, Chandigarh and Delhi. It has presented puppet shows, poster workshops, street plays, dramatised story readings, art workshops, exhibitions, talks and readings; and has hosted artists, writers and cultural activists coming from diverse areas and backgrounds to develop dynamic spaces for discussions and dialogue to take place.

In 2011, the Trust expanded to include community building work for Preetnagar’s children by offering remedial education, nutrition information, computer literacy, and team building. The old community centre, Preet Ghar, has also been re-opened for villagers, visitors, artistes and volunteers.

To sustain its publishing and community building work, Preetlari Trust needs urgent support. Please donate through cheque/cash to:
Saanjhey Ranng Punjab De or ‘SRPD’
Payable at AXIS BANK, G.K.1, New Delhi
Account No: 049010100442916

Details here: Facebook Page
For more information contact Editor Poonam Singh: preetlarhi@yahoo.com

So, don’t just ‘like’ but LOVE the Preetlari Trust, and not only because it has such a beautiful name, ‘lovestring’.
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Vancouver’s Punjabi Lekhak Manch on novel Skeena

It is a privilege and an honour for me that Punjabi Lekhak Manch chose to hold a discussion on ‘Skeena’, that the feedback on the novel was most wonderful; and because discussion on Skeena was combined with the publishing issues facing Punjabi writers in Canada.

In Pakistan, the launches of Skeena in each of the nine cities referenced topics such as the status of Punjabi in Pakistan and West Punjab, rights of Punjabi authors, and support for Punjabi publishers. Valuable connections were created or refreshed between authors, publishers, distributors and booksellers.

In Vancouver Lower Mainland, the discussions on the Gurumukhi edition of Skeena are linked with the status of Punjabi Canadian writers, their rights as authors, and the ways to get a better deal from East Punjabi publishers.

There was a high turnout in speakers, and it was overwhelming for me to see that Skeena had generated a passionate response in each and every reader.

I am most honored also because each reader is a writer, critic, editor, publisher, teacher, journalist, cultural activist or a community leader.

Here’s the report:

Skeena: Prideful addition to Punjabi Literature – Punjabi Lekhak Manch
Regarding Skeena

Novel Skeena was hailed as a unique, artistic and prideful contribution to Punjabi literature by the members of Punjabi Lekhak Manch, one of the oldest BC Punjabi writers group.

Ten people shared their views about Skeena including both the coordinators of the Manch while four members took part in the discussion about Punjabi publishing. The meeting was held at Newton Library in Surrey on July 10, 2011.

The discussion was initiated by Sukhvant Hundal who had earlier requested the Manch to give time to Skeena.

Sukhvant Hundal said he values Skeena because of the many unique aspects of it. Unlike most other novels, Skeena depicts patriarchy in the class context. It acknowledges the oppression of Skeena’s own family whereas most other novels typically highlight the oppression of the ‘other’ family. The novel also artfully reveals the layers and layers of violence in our social systems. As well, Hundal was moved by the depiction throughout the novel of ‘sanjh’ or ‘togetherness’ of women across class, ethnicity and religion. ‘The storytelling is picturesque,’ remarked Hundal ‘once begun, the novel is hard to put down.’

Sadhu Binning said that Skeena is a work of such depth that more discussions need to take place on it. He said ‘I am happy and proud’ to have this unique novel in Punjabi literature where the style of writing is such that it seems the story is the reader’s own life, and the events are happening to him or her. The novel also shows the values of the jagirdari system through its effects and impacts on people rather than through socio-political speeches. The literary style of expression allows the readers to form their own conclusions about various aspects, characters and situations. Sadhu also appreciates that Skeena faces all kinds of difficulties in her life yet her desire to live remains strong. ‘Skeena is a prideful addition to Punjabi literature’, he said.

Sadhu asked Fauzia to speak about her experience with Punjabi publishers in Pakistan with reference to the Punjabi Shahmukhi edition of Skeena (Sanjh Publications, Lahore 2007).

Randeep Purewall said he liked the novel for many reasons but would limit himself to the mention of just two. First, the ways in which the novel references themes related to First Nations in the Canadian context from the very beginning; and second, the novel’s illustrations of people having different sexual orientations such as the two lesbian couples, in both its social contexts. He said that it is rare to find Punjabi or South Asian literature that integrates such themes into its projected social environments.

Amrik Duhra said that he enjoyed reading the novel, and was especially taken by its usage of different Punjabi dialects, and of the beauty of its language and expression.

Inderjit Kaur Sidhu said that she had just found a copy of the English edition of Skeena lying on the table, and when she opened it, she came across the following passage:
‘This is my third house arrest. First at my parent’s, second at my in-laws, and third in my own home. Seven months. Nine years. One week. Punishment, compromise, investigation.’
She said, ‘For sure, I will buy it and read it’.

Surinder Kaur Sahota said that she enjoyed reading the novel because of the beauty of its language and expression. The story deals with family values, social systems, and the hold of religious ideologies. She said, it is constructed from many ‘fictions’, events that cannot be true. Surinder gave two three examples of such untrue things including the one where Skeena is shown assaulted by an ‘educated doctor husband’. ‘But…’ she said, ‘I was most shocked to find that Iqbal Singh was Gamu’. Surinder said she was irritated by the spelling mistakes in the Gurumukhi edition of Skeena.

Ranbir Jauhal said that she also was not as happy with the fourth section as she was with the rest of the novel. As well, she said, she wanted the novel to be a lot longer but it finished too fast. Responding to comments made by Surinder she said that one of the things she most appreciates about ‘Skeena’ is in the ways it bursts various societal myths, like the myth that wife assault only occurs in ‘un-educated lower class’ families and that middle class ‘educated’ men do not assault/abuse their wives. She also affirmed Randeep’s observations about the integration in the novel of various taboo subjects such as sexual orientation.

Jarnail Singh Sekha, Co-Coordinator, said that he likes the name of the novel. The language is beautiful, characters have depth, and the story wins the reader’s heart where the reader does not want to put the novel away until it’s finished. There are however, conversion problems with the script, and they should have been taken care of before the publication of the Gurumukhi edition. He said that he has read Skeena in both Shahmukhi and Gurumukhi scripts, and Shahmukhi flows wonderfully well but Gurumukhi stalls time and again. Also, in the fourth section, the novel stoops to a low-level filmi plot when Iqbal Singh is revealed as Gamu. ‘In my opinion’ remarked Sekha, ‘Iqbal should have stayed Iqbal.’

Jarnail Singh Artist, Co-Coordinator, said that Skeena is a window into the cultural milieu of Pakistan and the status of Muslim women. He enjoyed the novel, but tends to agree with Mr. Sekha that at the end there is filmi-style plotting. ‘Nothing is added to the novel by turning Iqbal Singh into Gamu.’ Also, he said, the lesbian issues have been touched but in a superfluous manner since the lesbian characters do not move the plot. Artist affirmed that script conversion problems are irritating for the Gurumukhi reader.

Surinder Kaur Brar said she just loved the novel. The author’s ability to express delicate feelings, concepts and situations is amazing. The language and style of writing is beautiful. It has strong subject matter but then every novel has subject matter but not every novelist can fulfil it or do justice to it. The depiction of reality is subtle and realistic even ‘natural’. ‘I like everything in it, if you ask me, i can not find anything wrong with it. Skeena is a great addition to Punjabi literature’.

Fauzia Rafique thanked Punjabi Lekhak Manch and its members for giving this special time to Skeena, for reading the novel, and for sharing valuable insights. She also thanked Sukhvant Hundal for requesting the Manch to discuss Skeena. She said, she will take the feedback on Gurumukhi conversion issues to the publisher, Libros Libertad, so that the next print run is free of typos.

As suggested by Sadhu Binning, Fauzia shared her experience of publishing Skeena in Punjabi Shahmukhi script from Lahore in 2007. She said that like East Punjab, West Punjab also has three main publishing houses, out of which one had asked her in 2006 to convert Skeena into Shahmukhi. Once the manuscript was ready, the publisher was discussing printing details but no mention was made of any royalties for the author. Fauzia said, she had to withdraw Skeena, and then offer it one by one, to the other two publishers. Amjad Salim of Sanjh Publications came through; he signed a royalty agreement with the author, invested their own money, and published not the standard 200-350 books but 750 (hardbound= 500, Paperback=250). Sanjh also acquired funding from South Asia Partnership (SAP) to launch the novel in nine cities in Pakistan. With that, ‘Skeena may be the best-selling novel in modern Punjabi literature,’ Fauzia said.

The situation of Punjabi publishing is such where in most cases, she said, authors fund the publishing of their own books or they have to buy-back a large portion of the print-run; plus they have to do their own promotion without much support from the publisher. This situation necessitates that the Punjabi Canadian writers find better solutions for the publication of their works. The formation of a Punjabi writers cooperative to publish, promote and distribute the writings of Punjabi Canadian authors is one way to go.

She said, at this time, author royalties and rights are less a matter of money and more a matter of principle. There is not much money in publishing of literature in any language and especially not in the publishing of Punjabi literature, but it ‘torments me’ she said, to find that when a Punjabi book is published, each and every contributor is paid BUT the author. In addition, the author is powerless and held at bay by the publisher with ‘Punjabi books don’t sell’ oxymoron. Nothing sells without promotion and distribution, she said.

Satish Gulati of Chetna Parkashan, visiting Canada from Ludhiana India, outlined the many problems faced by Punjabi publishers. He said that it requires consistency and dedication to continue to publish Punjabi books, and it is a difficult path to tread. He explained the process of book publishing and selling, and outlined the many barriers to its success.

The discussion brought out the need to further brainstorm on the different aspects of Punjabi publishing to make it a more beneficial and respectful experience for Punjabi Canadian authors.

Nedeem Parmar, Treasurer of the Manch, was of the opinion that there is no need to discuss this subject as Chetna Parkashan is doing a wonderful job in serving the publishing needs of Punjabi Canadian authors.

Fauzia, however, has made a request to the Manch to make some time to hold discussions on different aspects of Punjabi publishing as it impacts Punjabi Canadian authors.

Punjabi Lekhak Manch was established over 35 years back. The first meeting was attended, among others, by its initiators Surjeet Kalsey, Gurcharan Rampuri and Ajmer Rode.

The meeting was attended by Jarnail Singh Sekha, Jarnail Singh Artist, Sushil Kaur, Surinderpal Kaur Brar, Kirpal Kaur, Gurcharan Singh Gill, Inderjit Singh Dhami, Krishan Bhanot, Khushhal Singh Gloti, Pritpal Singh Sandhu, Fauzia Rafique, Hrjit Daudhria, Joginder Shamsher, Barjinder K. Dhillon, Hari Singh Tatla, Narinder Baia, Jagdev S. Dhillon, Pavinder Dhariwal, Harjinder Singh Cheema, Inderjit Kaur Sidhu, Shahzad Nazir Khan, Nirmal Kaur Gill, Jasbir Kaur Maan, Satish Gulati, Nedeem Parmar, Davinder Punia, Gian Singh Kotli, Ranbir Jauhal, Sukhvant Hundal, Sadhu Binning, Randip Purewal, Amrik Duhra, Surinder K. Sahota.
(Note: The list may not be comprehensive.)

Punjabi Lekhak Manch meets every second Sunday from 1-4 PM at Surrey’s Newton Library. Contact Punjabi Lekhak Manch: lekhakmanch11@gmail.com

This report uses valuable input from Jarnail Singh Artist, Parvinder Dhariwal, Jarnail Singh Sekha and Randeep Purewall.

Buy Skeena:
http://www.libroslibertad.ca/book.php?id=42

Report first published at http://novelskeena.wordpress.com/.
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End of an era: Dr. Darshan Gill passes away

Renowned scholar and secular journalist Dr. Darshan Gill passes away

Dr. Darshan Gill, a progressive and secular Punjabi writer who opposed religious fundamentalism in Vancouver lost his battle with cancer and passed away at Surrey Memorial Hospital on June 10, 2011.

Gill was the former editor of Canada Darpan, a Punjabi biweekly that gave a voice to moderates who were condemning extremism within the Sikh community during 1980s.

He founded Canada Darpan on November 1, 1982. This date was deliberately picked as it coincided with the anniversary of the founding of Gadar, a newspaper launched by secular Indian revolutionaries who fought against British imperialism.

He was a native of historical village Dhudike in Punjab. Dhudike was known as a village of Gadarites. Dr. Gill, who came from a progressive background had worked at Nawan Zamana, a leftist newspaper published in Punjab, India, before he immigrated to Canada in 1972.

After his arrival in this country, he was employed at sawmills in the B.C. Interior. He moved to Vancouver in 1982.

His newspaper was critical of Sikh fundamentalism and published articles written by prominent moderates, including Ujjal Dosanjh, who went on to become B.C.’s premier and a Liberal MP. Dosanjh was physically attacked for his liberal views in February 1985. During that era, Gill received threatening calls asking him to stop running Dosanjh’s articles. Undeterred, Gill continued to publish them. He also testified in a trial against suspects in the Dosanjh beating case.

The fundamentalists also tried to dissuade people from reading his newspaper; often copies of Canada Darpan were stolen and destroyed during those days. He narrowly escaped a physical assault when he went to attend a function at a Sikh temple in New Westminster. In 1987, his Surrey home was attacked with a firebomb, but nothing untoward happened to him.

In 1989, he sold Canada Darpan due to financial challenges.

Gill also hosted Sahitnama, a literary program on Radio India every Sunday. He has edited 20 books and translated three books from English into Punjabi. The Punjab government granted Gill a literary award for his contribution to Punjabi literature abroad.

Sixty eight year old Gill lived in Surrey with his wife, Charanjit Kaur and three children.

He was first diagnosed with cancer in 2007. Although his right kidney had been removed, he remained healthy until last summer. But the cancer had since invaded his right lung.

Gill remained in high spirits while struggling with cancer. “I will always be opposed to fundamentalism till the end of my life,” he said in one of his last interviews.

His funeral will be held at Five River Funeral Home, River Road, Delta at 12:30 pm on June 18. Later special prayers will be held at the Ross Street Sikh Temple, Vancouver at 3 pm.

Gurpreet Singh
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50,000 Views for Uddari Weblog in 2010

With 50,000 views in the past calendar year, at just over 4,000 a month, Uddari Weblog is perhaps the most visited blog on Blogosphere on Punjab/Panjab, Punjabis and Punjabi literature.

The busiest day of the year for Uddari was August 25th with 327 views.
The most popular post that day was ‘Autobiography of the Great Dada Amir Haider Khan (1904-1986)‘ May 2008, says ‘Your 2010 year in blogging’ by WordPress.com (offering Uddari Weblog a ‘Wow’ on it’s Blog Health-O-Meter).

Here is more from it:

Uddari Attractions in 2010
Most viewed posts and pages
1

Dada Amir Haider Khan 1904-1986

Visit the post:
Autobiography of the Great Dada Amir Haider Khan (1904-1986)
(22 comments/pingbacks)
2
April 2008 – April 2009 Cultural Events page
(14 comments/pingbacks)
3
Cultural Events
(5 comments/pingbacks)
4
Photo Album
(29 comments/pingbacks)
5
Punjabi MaaNboli Writers
(32 comments/pingbacks)

Uddari Top referring sites in 2010
en.wordpress.com, facebook.com, search.conduit.com, afzalsaahir.blogspot.com, and punjabibooksonline.

And now, other Uddari blogs:

Uddari Art Exhibition
(Happy to have earned ‘You’re on fire!’ on the Blog Health-O-Meter of WordPress.com)

Uddari Art was viewed about 7,800 times in 2010.

The busiest day of the year for Uddari Art was June 13th with 222 views.
The most popular item that day was Punjab Landscape Page.

Uddari Art Attractions in 2010
1
Punjab Landscape
(28 comments/pingbacks)
2
People Punjab: Portraits and Groups
(27 comments/pingbacks)
3
Lord Krishna with Cow by Manjit Bawa, September 2008
4
Partition: The Punjab 1947
(5 comments/pingbacks)
5
Roopa Bheda, Nov 2009
(1 comment/pingback)

Uddari Art Top referring sites in 2010
were en.wordpress.com, sadapunjab.com, uddari.wordpress.com, facebook.com, and shots.snap.com.

And…

Love Life: the Story
was viewed about 8,800 times in 2010.

The busiest day of the year for Love Life was April 29th with 90 views.
The most popular post that day was ‘Gendercide in Pakistan: Women are a colonized population!’.

Love Life Attractions in 2010
1
Gendercide in Pakistan: Women are a colonized population! October 2008
(33 comments/pingbacks)
2
PhotosPage
(4 comments/pingbacks)
3
PAKISTAN: Police gang rape a teenage boy in custody and distribute footage on the Internet March 2009
4
Shaheed Bibi Iram Shahzadi: Rawalpindi November 2008
5
PAKISTAN: The killing of two Christian brothers July 2010

Love Life Top referring sites in 2010
en.wordpress.com, reddit.com, uddari.wordpress.com, search.conduit.com, and facebook.com.

This information is a compliment to Uddari visitors, authors and contributors.

P.S. If you have not yet subscribed to Uddari Weblog, please take a moment to go down the Sidebar and find at the bottom ‘Subscribe to Uddari’, click on ‘Sign me up!’ to take a free email subscription.
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Book Launch: ‘Chanting Denied Shores’ by Tariq Malik, Vancouver Jan 16/2011


‘Chanting Denied Shores – The Komagata Maru Narratives’

Book Launch, Vancouver
Sunday 16 January, 2011
2:30 – 4:30pm
Book launch with introduction by
Mr. Ujjal Dosanjh
Historical Kogawa House
1450 West 64th Avenue,
Vancouver, BC V6P 2N4
Phone 604-263-6586

Book launch, Surrey
Sunday, January 23, 2011
1:30 – 4:30pm
Surrey Public Library
Strawberry Hill Branch
7399 – 122nd Street, Surrey BC

Author Reading, Abbottsford
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Author book reading
Ehsaas Readers and Writers Festival
University of Fraser Valley
Abbottsford, BC

More information
http://www.tariqmalik.net/Chanting_Denied_Shores.htm

‘With the world pre-occupied with rumours of an imminent war, Vancouver’s boys of summer 1914 are at it again – the waterfront is already ringing with their verses of ‘White Canada Forever’. As hundreds of Punjabi Indians quietly sail into the harbour clamouring for their rights as equal subjects to relocate to any part of the British Empire, their chartered ship – the Komagata Maru – now lies rusting at anchor inside the Burrard Inlet on Canada’s Pacific Coast. The hopeful, would-be-immigrants find the host city distracted in its exuberant Victoria Day celebrations, and by the final visit of Buffalo Bill’s Best Show On Earth.

The arrival of the rogue ship into Canadian waters is seized by an immigration inspector as an opportunity to redress personal frustrations and regain lost stature. Meanwhile, a Punjabi mill worker, whose plight in seeking gainful employment is challenged through his community’s daily humiliations and frustrations by the belligerent exclusionist policies, watches the ship’s passengers thwarted in their every attempt at landing.

A gifted undercover operator whose intricate web of informants, intimidation, intrigue and murder has infiltrated the Pacific coast, warns that the new arrivals are a part of an emerging sinister insurgency to free India from its occupying British forces; and his seven-year-old daughter watches a favourite uncle worship the first crocuses and revel in the return of seasonal salmon by swimming with them in a shallow stream.

These are some of the narrative threads of a disillusioned and dislocated passenger on the Komagata Maru. He is ostensibly here to take up the Canadian offer of ‘Free Land’ in the Last Best West and his explorations of the possibilities and limits of hope and endurance spans two continents during the tumultuous decade from 1914 to 1924. It includes the startling revelation of how some of the deported passengers walked the railway tracks from Calgary to Vancouver barely ahead of the onset of winter.

Set against the racially charged background of discordant voices from an unshakeable past, this wrenching and inspiring first novel illuminates a watershed incident of Canadian history largely forgotten outside the South Asian community. The Komagata Maru debacle would eventually radicalize the Indian freedom movement on the American soil, giving fresh impetus to the claim of Indian freedom fighters that there was no justice for them within the British Empire, and the only recourse open to them was to forcefully seek complete independence for India.’
from the book cover

Komagata Maru historical timeline
1880’s
First Punjabi settlement in Canada at Golden, Vancouver Island, B.C.
1890
Columbia River Lumber Mill Temple built in Golden, Vancouver Island, B.C.
1897
Sikhs soldiers returning from Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee travel through Canada and carry with them news of Canada’s vast farmlands.
1907
Anti-Asian Riots in Vancouver, B.C. Canada and Bellingham, Washington, USA.
1908
Canadian Government severely restricts immigration from India.
1910
Canadian Government passes 2 orders-in-council: the first declares that all Asians were now obliged to have $200 on their person when they land. The second order-in-council, the ‘Continuous Journey’ regulation, stipulates that East Indian immigrants had to have travelled directly to Canada from India. However, there were no shipping lines operating between the two countries at the time.
1914
May 23, Komagata Maru arrives in Vancouver harbour with 376 passengers (340 Sikhs, 24 Muslims and 12 Hindus) to challenge the extant exclusionist laws.
1914
23 July, Komagata Maru departs with 352 of its passengers still onboard.
1914
29 September, Komagata Maru reaches Indian shores at Budge Budge near Calcutta. 20 passengers die in the ensuing riots.
1919
Canadian Immigration regulations loosened slightly to allow some Indian family reunification.
1947
Canadian Citizenship Act opens the gates for immigration from the Indian subcontinent.
1989
75th Komagata Maru anniversary plaque placed at Vancouver’s Portal Park.
2004
Vancouver City Hall declares 23 May as Komagata Maru Day.
2009
Filmmaker Deepa Mehta (Director: Water, Earth and Fire) announces plans for a Canadian film based on the Komagata Maru events. Related issues of federal apology, financial compensation to descendants and anniversary commemorations keep the Komagata Maru incident of 1914 alive in the press.
2010
Canadian federal government announces plans for a permanent memorial at the Komagata Maru site in the Burrard Inlet.

‘Chanting Denied Shores’ is published by Calgary’s Bayeux Arts in November 2010.
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‘Revealing the Invisible Heritage of Panjab’, Panjab Digital Library

Appeal for Support

‘What if you could give a book to the entire world? Well, now you can when you Adopt a Book for digitization through the Panjab Digital Library. Your simple, generous gift comes with the promise that a piece of history will be globally available forever.

About Panjab Digital Library (PDL)
‘We continue to preserve Panjab’s heritage for future generations. Today you can view one million pages free at www.PanjabDigitalLibrary.org. To date, PDL has digitally preserved more than five million pages of manuscripts, books, newspapers, magazines and photographs.

‘But we can’t keep it up without you, our supporters around the world. Will you join with others today who are dedicated to preserving the stories and truths of Panjab? Individual donations in support of our work is the best way to help in protecting the data for perpetuity.

‘You can also support PDL’s work through a direct donation to the organization. You will be amazed at how far even a few dollars today could go toward ensuring the strength of PDL’s work in 2011!

‘Your one US dollar ($1) helps us locate, digitize, publish online and preserve 4 pages

Archives Digitized
Kurukshetra University
Panjab Languages Department
Government Museum Chandigarh
Shiromani Gurduara Parbandhak Committee
Delhi Sikh Gurduara Management Committee

Let us preserve what remains

‘Panjab Digital Library was recognized as the “Best E-Content in Culture & Heritage”
of South Asia – 2010

‘All donations are tax-deductible in the US and Canada where Sikh Research Institute is accepting them on behalf of PDL.’

Panjab Digital Library
#867, Sector 64, SAS Nagar
Panjab – 160065
info@panjabdigilib.org
South Asia: +91-981-411-3047
North America: +1-210-704-7096
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