Dr. Kamla Dutt:  Who Doesn’t Accept the Pseudo-Classification of Pravasi Sahitya
| Editor in Chief - Indian Observer Post - 26 Dec 2018

Dr. Kamla Dutt: 

Who Doesn’t Accept the Pseudo-Classification of Pravasi Sahitya

By Onkareshwar Pandey

New Delhi, Dec 26, 2018:

Dr. Kamla Dutt is a prominent Hindi writer who was born in Lahore (then in undivided India, now in Pakistan), brought up in Banglore, Ambala, Shimla and Chandigarh in India and has worked in America for around 40 years.

Kamla Dutt a Theatre Artist in her College days was a Khadiclad, bespectacled shy girl who was transformed on stage by brilliant direction of professor Virendra Mehndiratta in plays (Utsurg, Muktdhara, Notter Pooja, Adhoori awaz) in Chandigarh and role of “Dhania” of play “Goodan” under able direction of late KK Rishi at Hoshiarpur. A retired Professor, who taught at Morehouse School of Medicine department of Pathology, Atlanta GA from 1983 to 2012, did her Ph.D. from Punjab University and was a Post Doctoral Research Associate at Sidney Farber Cancer Centre Harvard Med. School and Schepens Eye Institute Harvard Med. School from 1972-1980. She has made a special contribution in the field of Stem Cells Research and Tissue Engineering and presented different Models of her Research on Eye Diseases in different parts of the world. Her work was highlighted as a cover of Tissue Engineering journal at least four times and cover of DNA Cell Biology at least six times.

Dr. Dutt is one of those Hindi writers who regularly got published in India’s top Hindi Magazines such as  Dharmyug, Sarika, Nai Kahani, and Hans from 1970 to 1983 and became popular in the Hindi Literature world. After a break of around three decades, she again started writing from 2012. Some of her published books are – Machhli Saleeb Per Tangi (1989), Kamla Dutt ki Yadgar Kahaniyan (2014).

Her latest Story collection – Achhi Auraten Aur Anya Kahaniyan has been published by Bodhi Prakashan, Jaipur and is being released on January 14, 2019 at Ambedkar International Centre, Janpath, New Delhi in a function organised by DIMC (Diaspora India Media & Communication), an NGO, dedicated to the cause of serving selflessly the Indian Diaspora People while they are in India.

DIMC presents Dr. Kamla Dutt’s own views about her Stories, her journey of literature and other issues in her own freestyle language as given below:

Writing about my own work is an ego trip which I have not indulged in the past at least in writing.

Ego trips in one’s own head one often indulge in and I am no exception- subconscious demands it if only for self-analysis or self-evaluation.

Creativity no matter how little or meaningless demands an iota of ‘ego’.

Now about my stories let me confess beforehand. I will have trouble arriving at any constructive criticism one is never impartial about one’s own work- be it scientific or creative writing, subjectivity and preconceived notions always remain in any analysis.

All I can do is provide a gist of the stories and some notion of intent with which they came about.

(a) The stories are multilayered unique in some small way and do not fit and are apart from the pseudo-classification of “Pravasi Sahitya”.

All major writers are away from their homelands or at least their immediate space the distance space be it a locked room in once own house- a necessity.  I have always believed dislocation; displacement- alienation all constitute fertile land for creativity. My favorite writers like Salman Rushdie, Milan Kundera, Haruki Murakami, Usha Priyamvada, Nirmal Verma, Mohan Rakesh all reflect displacement from their place of origin. Even stalwarts like Krishna Sobti- Pine for “Gujrat” they left. I do not mean to imply I belong to this category I only mean to dispel this notion of “Pravasi Sahitya”

(b) I am not a Hindi writer. My ‘Hindi schooling limited to 8, 9, 10 grade and optional in college having spent childhood in Bangalore.

(c) I am a scientist by profession. My Hindi vocabulary remains limited. My writing is immediate, and language the spoken vernacular, with smattering of English, some scientific insights and imagery from the animal kingdom all part of my writing.

(d) I do not belong to any wad be it Samajwad, Achutvad, leftistwad if there is “Vad” it is Kamlawad no ego trip here!!!

All I am providing is the gist of stories, some background rest it is up to you- accept, criticize or discard.

“Achi Aurten aur Anya Kahaniya” came after my publication of Kamla Dutts Yadgar Kahaniya 2014 (most stories in this book work published in Sarika, Dharmyug, Hans, Nai kahaniya between 1973-1984)

Current stories were written after my retirement between years 2012-2015. The title story “Achi Aurtein” ….. unfolds against the backdrop of AIDS- epidemic in a brothel in Bombay and moves back and forth from Atlanta, GA to Bombay.The protagonist of the story a Physician activist in Bombay an AIDS researcher- while educating the children of brothel women shrinks when talking about his own 6-year-old daughter and while referring to an activist woman in Bombay labels her not a good women- अच्छी औरत नहीं विधवा है, पर हमेशा मुस्टन्डे उसके इर्द—गिर्द रहते हैं।

(She is not a good woman- a widow but always surrounded by virile men studs)  

The irony of the statement and the Madam of the brothel declares- our profession is based on honesty- This employee of mine is not only an addict but lies too.

JP another story with a scientific background “angiogenesis” how new blood vessels are formed how the solid tumor (Cancer) makes factors for the formation of new blood vessels, simultaneously also makes factors for inhibition of new blood vessels too many new blood vessels will kill the host a balance a necessity.

The story is juxtaposed against the background of scientific community and deals with business, collaborations made by scientists for science, for self-preservation- promotion.

the story  ends with Ghalib’s couplet

रगो में दौड़ते फिरते के हम नहीं कायल

जो आंख ही से न टपका

तो फिर लहू क्या है

 

Romeo and Juliet is a love story of a person suffering from AIDS- his girlfriend taking care of him for 9 years and also their only son.

The story is set against the background of how blacks have internalized violence committed against them by majority white.

The story is also set against the backdrop of general violence in America

The assassination of JF Kennedy

The assassination of ML King

And the violence of AIDS virus which affects the poor and the blacks unproportionally.

 

The girlfriend is the “Juliet” who survives and says no- regret my son had his father for 8 years how many poor black kids have this luxury.

“Jyoti” is a story of a Rich Indian Physician dying of heart attack in London- nobody to claim his albums the other valuables collected  by family and friends.

“Teen Adhjali Mombatia” deals with a group of Americans who have chosen a single life style but go to retreats during X-mas and new year so that they are not alone and to forge, reinforce connection, however, temporary.

Fransces” is a story of a long time American peace activist who laments that her ex husband, 58 years after their divorce had saved- her wedding veil and hat as memento in his keepsake box. How he never dated anyone else but they were not meant for each other- human emotions are the same everywhere- loss is loss.

“Bayoo” is a story of a very accomplished Indian physician who after her husband's death raises her two sons- story set in Louisiana talks about “Bayoo” area the Flora, Fauna and how during storms the alligator mothers take care of not only their own eggs but also take other alligator mom’s eggs to safety- it is their DNA after all.

Other stories in collection talk of relations being formed and falling apart as is always the case, the human condition.  

The last story of the collection “Sandai Jane wale Raste per”  is meeting of two Indian scientists against the aesthetic backdrop of “Sandai” and the sophistication and finesse in Japanese culture. How much immigrants have to forgo for success.

Story ends with Japanese philosophy of “Wabi Sabi”

Wabi Sabi represents comprehensive world view of aesthetics, on acceptance of transience- imperfection, beauty that is imperfect- incomplete- impermeable

Wabi Sabi includes

Sunbom- specificity

Muzo-  Impermeance

KU- suffering

Nothing lasts

Nothing is finished

Nothing is perfect

Wabi-Sabi

Stories are multilayered- they are immediate written in spoken Hindi they are non judgmental or preachy they take the reader to the place and events.

The Author having lived in another culture for 49 years is fully immersed in that culture and emotionally attached to the people- events she is writing about. She is not an outsider but one of them but in some way trying to find herself in another culture, place but in her mother tongue.

Stories unfolded in Boston, Atlanta with occasional visit to India, stories may lack in sophistication of a Hindi writer but are enriched by her scientific background and imagery- she is not someone pining for her culture but someone creating space for herself and her characters in an another continent in another culture but in her own mother tongue. 


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