20 August 2009


The histories of writing and publishing are, to use a mathematical analogy, inversely proportional to each other. Writing started with multilingual texts (because languages themselves were born from other languages) and gradually became mostly monolingual. Publishing started with monolingual periodicals, moved to periodicals with monolingual texts in two or more languages (separate but equal, as in race relations), and now (principally on the Web) is moving towards multilingual or mixed texts. Literature, like everything else in history, swings like a pendulum, and writers are once again writing mixed or multilingual texts, primarily because languages themselves are moving from "pure" to "pidgin" forms (both linguistic adjectives, of course, are oversimplifications). Having monolingual texts in different languages is a necessary but I hope short-lived step towards truly multilingual publications.

I take as a case in point Tistarangit, the first online literary magazine of Sikkim. This magazine features texts in either English or one of the Indian languages, but as far as I know, not in the multilingual or mixed mode. Of course, using Wikcrit, we can analyze a poem such as this one and see that Indian languages determine the English syntax, but to move forward, Indian contributors to the magazine should start writing mixed verse (which, elsewhere in India, has gained a respectable following):

Cannibal Times
Raja Puniani

I’ll eat you all

World has become
So much religious
(Even physics!)
And living so much expensive

You all are gods
Gods of your own world
I want to listen to your
Frustrations first
Wish to see
Before your own porno self

Go and
Sleep with the capitalists
In a city of communal riots

Class struggle
Demonstrates itself in
Class adjustments

All are violent and disturbed
In this risky
Peaceful co-existence

Democracy is
What people earn
Just as a bonded labour earns his privileges

I’ll eat you all

I see me
In all of you

I see nothing
While I look at myself
Though I see
A lot

My mirror
These days
Scare me

I can’t keep gazing sky

Keep away that sky from me
The sky falls
On me

Nevertheless, I like the poem and wish I knew the Indian language that gives rise to the kind of English it uses.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Sir
    This is Raja Puniani. Thanks a lot for appraising my poem.
    May I have your mail ID please so that we can keep in touch with each other.
    My e-mail ID is rajapuniani@yahoo.co.in
    Thanks & regards
    Raja Puniani