A Punjabi not having lived in Punjab, Amandeep Sandhu carried a void in his heart. A void that comes from not knowing his roots, not having the insight into the problems plaguing this state and that of being an outsider to his own place! A void, he decided to fill with deep love and empathy for the state that he has always considered his own!
Panjab: Journeys Through Fault Lines is a reportage, a memoir, contextualised in the current times. While Sandhu always identified with Punjab, grappling with real issues and an understanding he derived from the time spent in the state from 2015 to 2017 makes for the major portion of the book.
“While earlier I perceived from what I read or heard, having actually spent time, I realised that things are not as bad as they are made out to be.”
Still, there were shocks and surprises, duly listed in the 580- page book, published by Westland. He lists three major revelations for us as he launched the book in Chandigarh on Thursday. One, the very image of Punjab being the ‘wheat bowl’ or the ‘food bowl’ of the country was in for alteration. “While the state holds the precious title, the aftermath of Green Revolution and how it has destroyed agriculture is appalling.” Sandhu’s desire to see if post-Partition, post-Khalistan-non-movement peace has returned to the state, results in disappoinment. “The discontent and the discord amongst its people are still so palpable.” What hit Sandhu the most is the need to escape that’s hard to miss. “Kite nikal jayiye (let’s go somewhere)—with everyone feeling claustrophobic in the framework of drugs and deras, no wonder migration seems to be the answer for most.”
While speaking of issues, Sandhu throws light on solutions too – natural farming, strengthened laws, boost to the economy but that’s not the objective of the book. “I want Panjab: Journeys Through Fault Lines to be a conversation starter for people of Punjab.”
Panjab is his third book, post Sepia Leaves and Roll of Honour. Sandhu is ready with next – another novel set in Punjab based on migration and memories. Of course, reading about the state figures high on his list as well. The latest book that he enjoyed is Radiance Of A Thousand Suns by Manreet Sodhi Someshwar and Stillborn Season by Radhika Oberoi. “While Radiance is an inter-generational epic story of women from Partition until now; Stillborn is a brilliant fiction on 1984 that shows both the brutality as well as the kindness of rescuers.”
If reading about Panjab figures on your list, you got some options!
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