Des Raj Kali throws light on early influences of his life

Des Raj Kali throws light on early influences of his life

Des Raj Kali, writer

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 18

Growing up with the poetry of Lal Singh Dil and Sant Gulabdas, Dalit consciousness is deeply entrenched in writer Des Raj Kali’s psyche. As one of the prominent writers from Punjab, his works have always aimed at starting a conversation about Dalit intellectual identity, including Sufi and Nath traditions.

Speaking at the Akhar literary initiative by the Prabha Khaitan Foundation at Majha House, he was in a conversation with Dr Parminder Singh, former head, Department of English, GNDU.

“As a child, I had listened to songs and narratives of Ramayana and Mahabharata from the Nath community. My father was illiterate but had knowledge of ‘Qissa Kaav’ of Punjab like Heer Ranjha, Sohni Mahiwal and Nal Damayanti. So, we used to listen to stories and folk literature from our village elders,” he shared, while talking about early influences of his life.

As historian and documentarian of Dalit literature, Kali has authored short stories and novels such as ‘Kath Kaali’, ‘Yahan Chai Achhi Nahin Banti’ and ‘Shehar Mein Saan Hone ka Matlab’ which deal with Dalit consciousness and the travails of the common man grappling with after-effects of terrorism and dismal economy.

He said deconstructing literature was important but also equally important is that literature should have its genesis through personal experience and not from borrowed one as only the person who actually feels and lives the experience was truly qualified to write about the truth of any community.

The Akhar initiative is a platform dedicated to the promotion of Punjabi literature. “We are delighted to have a collaboration with the Prabha Khaitan Foundation, which is doing a lot for the promotion of regional languages and literature. We started the Punjabi chapter in Amritsar under the title ‘Akhar’ in December 2019 with Dr Surjit Patar. We will have an event with Punjabi poets and writers every second month of the year,” said Preeti Gill, founder, Majha House.

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