Two Chandigarh Poets: Redefining Hindi Heartland*
LOG HI CHUNENGE RANG
By Harjinder Singh Laltu
Shilpayan, Delhi, 2010, NA, price not stated
BAS MEIN BIKTI KITAB
By Jasbir Chawla
Prakashan Sansthan, Delhi, 2009, Rs.500.00
VOLUME XXXV NUMBER 6 June 2011
Chandigarh is not Allahabad or Bhopal to make major cultural claims on the Hindi scene yet over the years the city beautiful has witnessed an evolution of a very live literary sub-culture. Writers academics journalists and activists across linguistic divides could be seen huddled together in small conclaves over weekends reading prose and reciting poems to one another. Far from the glare of literary awards critical accolades or prestigious publication offers these writers are the real foot-soldiers of literature. More than official functions and academic seminars what has contributed to the making of what may be termed as the Chandigarh School of Literature is this literary sub-culture. The participating writers evince a typical city-specific sensibility which if recognized and appreciated has the potential to enhance the rather narrow profile of mainstream Hindi poetry. The very architectonics location and history of the city has generated its own literary aesthetics which this review highlights through two collections of poems published by two Chandigarh poets Harjinder Singh Laltu and Jasbir Chawla.
A word about the subject-position of two writers would in a way provide a necessary take off to understand the cultural make up of a Hindi writer from Chandigarh. Both writers are Sikhs in their own specific ways. Laltus father was a Sikh married to a Bangla lady and the poet had his college education in Calcutta (Presidency College) later on he went to the US for higher studies in Chemistry. Laltu is non-turbaned and Jasbir Chawla is turbaned. The two together offer a resounding resistance to the gross communalization of languages that Hindi as well as Punjabi have undergone over the years particularly during the days of Operation Blue Star. How many Sikh writers can the so-called national Hindi imagination boast of as part of its literary pantheon?
The two writers are not located in Hindi academia. Laltu is a professor of Chemistry and after spending about twenty years at Panjab University he has recently joined the Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad. Jasbir Chawlas family underwent dislocation twice: first it was uprooted from Pakistan in the wake of partition and then from Itawa (UP) which it had chosen as its destination in the wake of the 1984-anti-Sikh riots. It moved to Chandigarh. The poet had his schooling in West Bengal and later graduated from Banaras Hindu University in Metallurgical Engineering. Both the poets are competent in as many as four languagesPunjabi ...
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