Goa University’s VRPP program under the Kavivarya Bakibaab Borkar Chair in Comparative Literature provided me a most wonderful opportunity to participate in Githa Hariharan’s Course , ‘Compressing the world: Reading and Writing Short Fiction‘.
So many threads of learning and memory were evoked and my responsibility to write better, share more powerfully and use the gift of literacy wisely is further refreshed thanks to this opportunity.
I learnt that I am happy in classrooms amidst young people. They give me hope and restore my faith in change. Githa was an exceptionally kind mentor during the writing sessions. She nurtured each student with wisdom and grace. But what I loved most about this most distinguished writer is her humaneness and her sense of humour. Both critical states of being as we navigate ideas and transform them into writing.
More than writing short fiction however I was enriched by the readings. The compulsory reading material shared was rich and varied. The background reading included a powerful essay by Sara Paretsky; A Storyteller Stands Where Justice Confronts Basic Human Needs. This essay spoke to me as some texts do, powerfully and poignantly. I managed to read most of the reading list, finding the choices particularly and reflect on texts that I have not engaged with in the recent past.
Note taking during Githa’s sessions can provide any good reader with a rich reading list, besides fine tips and clues to become a more nuanced writer. Githa wove connections between selected texts that speak a narrative for the ‘nation’. On listening to Githa, I came home and scurried around looking for my books. I found some, I ordered some more and over the past 2 weeks I have been reading these four; if you are interested in writing that empowers, here are my top four for the month!
( Women Writing in India , Vol 1 and Vol 2 , K Lalitha and Suzie Tharu ; Folktales from India – A.K Ramanujan ; No Alphabet in Sight: New Dalit Writing from South India; A History of Reading Alberto Manguel )