Every collection I work on is a journey, a mix of facts, fiction and emotion; a struggle that always starts and ends at home. I often wonder what binds me to this place, to my homeland. Why I let it define me such that I always want to be here, and why this journey keeps me going, year after year.
Someone wise once explained that success is a labyrinth, various pathways do eventually converge to the same endpoint, your destiny, but the pain or pleasure of getting to the same end is defined by the journey itself, isn’t it? We can take a direct, quicker route or just keep around in circles, we will still get there both ways. The key is to always believe in yourself, know your roots and hold them tight.
I don’t claim to know a lot of history but I like to read and often find myself attracted to literature, be it fact or fiction; It talks back to me, the seemingly boring facts fascinate me, the comparisons intrigue me and the research feeds my creativity. Freedom of speech has been given a whole new meaning through the social media. There is an abundant sea of people’s voices, their opinions, their debates, their idiosyncrasies, their truths, even their lies. For better or for worst, there exists a whole universe of information out there. I read most of them and often every side of the story, how else can I reach my own conclusions? Or even, if need be, form my own opinions? Being a through bred Rajput from Punjab I have always been interested in myth, mythology, culture, the creation of this culture and its evolution over the ages.
Whilst working on Dulla Bhatti, the year before last, I read up a lot on Sufism and its inception in Islam. I came across an utterly fascinating Mughal prince, DARA SHIKOH son of Shahjahan, who I vaguely recalled from my long ago history lessons in high school. Part of the Mughal bloodline but never given much importance in our history books, Dara after Akbar and Humayun was someone who vigilantly worked to reform a culture, to co-exist peacefully with all religious communities, to spread peace. This is when my interest in Dara’s efforts was piqued and I decided to further read up on him.