It’s been four weeks since Writers’ Bloc was conceptualised and put into action.
It’s been four crazy long weeks with 12-hour work days and no beer. (well, not as much as there should be.) I’ve spent hours on the phone, making one call after the other, just to test waters and spread the word around. In a tentative, please-don’t-mind-me-calling-you-but-here’s-the-thing sort of way.
My friends – well, they’re pissed off. I have hardly met them or spoken to them. My partner and I spent all of four hours together last week. We live three kilometres apart.
I haven’t met my sis, spent any time with the kids, or even gone and got a trim, which, if you knew me, you’d say I definitely needed. And I have had barely three bottles of beer in the past four weeks.
But if you think I’m feeling hard done by, then you’re wrong.
Because these four weeks have been phenomenal. The project was really well received by the people both in the country, and outside it, whom we got in touch with. Some have come on board as well. And I’ve had some pretty powerful conversations with people that has made me change my perspective about a lot of things, the project included.
The project isn’t about me, or Gaysi. It’s about what we can create for the community – that much was pretty certain from the beginning. But, a conversation with close friend helped me realise that I also need to find out why I’m taking this up. Doing that has actually given me the tincture that was missing in my conversations about the project. I was so scared of appearing selfish in asking for people to translate, or source books, that I didn’t even acknowledge to myself why I was taking this up.
Here’s my reason: I want to hear the stories of courage by ordinary Queer people. The lesbian couple in Jharkhand that got married. How did they do that? Where does one find the guts to do that? Where did they get the strength to defy? And is the self really that important?
Acknowledging my need of Writers’ Bloc has helped me find an answer to the last question. Yes, the self is important, but we reduce that to selfishness. The self gives you the power to act. That’s what I’ve found out, in these past few weeks.
Writers’ Bloc has one book of Urdu poems by Bhopal-based author ‘Owais’, and one Gujarati folk tale which Shobhna Kumar (from Queer Ink) picked up in Baroda, which centers around the Hijra community. There’s some Bengali work that, fingers’ crossed, might be coming our way too.
We’re looking for Bengali translators.
We’ve got an Urdu translator – a straight man who is overcoming his conventional upbringing, religious teachings and apprehensions, to translate the poems for us. Because, as he put it, “It feels right to do this.”
Our Gujarati translator is a lesbian, an amazing person, and a close friend, who almost backed off saying, “It’s my first time.”
That’s no reason why one shouldn’t do it, right?