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The mind’s realm

Jaswant Deed is a well-known name in the Punjabi literary world. His poetic works were first published in legendary Amrita Pritam’s magazine called Nagmani; there has been no looking back since then.

The mind’s realm

Photo: Pradeep Kumar Tewari



Gurnaaz Kaur

Jaswant Deed is a well-known name in the Punjabi literary world. His poetic works were first published in legendary Amrita Pritam’s magazine called Nagmani; there has been no looking back since then. 

His works are different; they are known to break the old moulds of literature that was inspired by political and social movements. “Back in 1970s when I started writing, poems and even prose were mostly written about Naxalite movements and other things that occupied the social stage. My work came as a break to that kind of literature. I wrote about modern life, its challenges; personal conflicts, ancestors, love, etc,” he says. 

Big movement

This Sahitya Akademi award winner’s work didn’t go down that well with the critics, so to say.  “It was all too new then and initially critics didn’t quite like it that my writings were individualistic as well as social. But the scenario has undergone a sea change ever since. New-age poets write about their personal experiences and they are appreciated. I don’t like to take credit for things, but I can say I was the one who started this movement,” he smiles.

Today, after almost four decades, this poet has come up with a new book titled Khaddi, which has essays from his life. These aren’t ordinary experiences and the treatment is even more profound. Deed has tried to interpret more than meets the eye. “I’ve written many poetry books but this is my second when it comes to prose. The essays in this book are special because they are about people and situations that were rare,” he says.

Book wise

The book has a story on Amrita Pritam that is about her last days. How Deed went to her to give a part of her house to create a museum dedicated to her works and how she refused saying it is for her son! Two months after her death, Amrita’s son sold that house and soon after even he died. Deed, through this story, delves into human psychology. He says big personalities have even bigger pains.

Another story is about terrorism days in 1986. During those days, he was working with AIR and his work involved live broadcast from Darbar Sahib. One day, doing his duty, he saw a pistol lying near Guru Granth Sahib. How, even in utter fear, he went to the guy who left it there. This person’s face was covered in a shawl. All Deed could see was his eyes and hands. As part of his interpretation, Deed says, “His hands were so beautiful. I still wonder how those hands could have held a painting brush or written poetry, but time had given him a gun.”

Weaving stories

Khaddi is a wooden frame that was used in olden days by women to weave carpets and for embroidery. Deed says, “I used this name because I’ve woven these stories with as much love and precision as my grandmother used to while weaving a carpet on Khaddi. Even saint Kabir used to work on Khaddi while writing.” With deep words and deeper meanings, he says literature is all about exploring layers of the minds! 

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