Beyond ‘Lihaaf’: Queer literature out of closet now
Nearly 77 years ago, when noted author Ismat Chughtai’s ‘Lihaaf’ (The Quilt) came out, she drew widespread flak from society for her short story that depicted the idea of homosexuality. Today, people are more welcoming towards this brand of literature, as was evident by the inauguration of the Awadh Queer Literature Festival in Lucknow on Friday.
At the event, people from the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) community said that they wanted more to be written about their struggles and issues.
“In modern times, few queer novels are coming out. Once can counts on one’s fingers the books that figure in queer literature. It seems people do not wish to write about the community, assuming low readership,” said Anshita Gupta, a psychology student, who will be attending the two-day festival.
“However, some dedicated publishers are coming out with ideas, providing a platform to LGBTQ people to tell their stories,” she added.
A local publisher said that there was not much available in the Indian market. “We haven't seen high demand for queer literature. But the good part is that people are talking about it and some non-LGBT people also want to read it,” he said.
On the other hand, organiser Yadavendra Singh Darvesh insisted that fewer books in the store did not mean that there was a dearth of reading material.
“The Indian mythology has many queer tales,” he said, referring to Devdutt Pattnaik’s ‘Shikhandi: Ánd Other ‘Queer’ Tales They Don’t Tell You’, in which the author has talked about around 30 such tales.
An aspiring LGBT writer, Asmit Kumar, said, “There is a lot about us in our mythology but we have not explored it. No one has reprocessed these stories.”
He said that back in 2001, a book was launched that was about the history of queer writing in the country.
“Chughtai’s ‘Lihaaf’ was a classic piece of queer writing. It is high time that such literature was accepted and respected. We need more of this writing, as the LGBTQ community is a part of our society,” said another participant, Devkanya.
Owing to continuous rain, educational institutions in several parts of Karnataka will remain shut on Thursday. Top officials in the 4 districts of Karnataka - namely Udupi, Kodagu, Hassan and Uttara Kannada -- have declared holiday for Anganwadi schools and colleges amid the 'red alert' issued by the weather department. The Indian Meteorological Department has predicted extremely heavy rain, ranging above 204.5 mm for these 4 cities.
Karnataka Animal Husbandry Minister Prabhu B Chavan appealed to people not to sacrifice cattle for the Bakrid festival while warning of stern action against the offenders. The Minister emphasised the Cow Slaughter Prohibition Act has already been in force in Karnataka. Generally, during the Bakrid festival, there is a tradition of sacrifice, for which livestock such as cow, ox, calf and camels are also used, said Chavan.
Chandigarh Chandigarh administrator Banwarilal Purohit on Wednesday gave in-principle approval for a synthetic running track at Sukhna Lake. UT adviser Dharam Pal, said, “The Chandigarh Heritage Conservation Committee had earlier given its go-ahead for the proposal. Next, the detailed plan and cost estimates will be prepared; and then, tenders will be floated for the project.” A UT official said the proposed track is part of the administration's efforts to give Sukhna Lake a major facelift.
The National Highway Authority of India has approved two over-bridges, which are likely to reduce travel time between Kalka and Zirakpur and alleviate traffic jams on the stretch by next year. NHAI has already floated tenders for the 60-m wide over-bridges, which will be constructed at a cost of ₹50 crore. It has invited bids for the “construction and site improvement of the four-lane national highway (NH-22) on the Zirakpur-Parwanoo junction.”
Fifteen students had a narrow escape after their school bus skidded into a waterlogged open drain in Daulat Singhwala village in Phabat area of Zirakpur. The bus, which was ferrying students of Blue Bird High School, Sector 16, Panchkula, was making way for another school bus when it skidded into the overflowing drain. The bus tilted in the drain, but passersby and parents were able to rescue the children through the driver's window.