Methought I heard a voice cry, “Sleep no more!
Macbeth does murder sleep”—the innocent sleep,
Sleep that knits up the raveled sleave of care,
The death of each day’s life, sore
Balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course,
Chief nourisher in life’s feast.
Still it cried, “Sleep no more!” to all the house.
“Glamis hath murdered sleep, and therefore Cawdor
Shall sleep no more. Macbeth shall sleep no more.”
From you know who, and what.
And a timely read for us, for our sleep, too, is becoming if not yet quite that of the dead, then of Kumbhakarna, the Ramayan’s Sleeping Giant who woke too late.
The other night I was having trouble sleeping—-a sadly frequent nuisance these days—and then the enormity of it all struck me. Then sleep nodded a sad, understanding goodbye and left for the night.
THEY are making us homeless.
By signing away the planet to the last gasping fossil fuel zombies, by bowing and scraping to the NRA and arms-makers whose flashy little toys then kill innocent people indiscriminately (we are all in Gaza, Palestine, even if Gaza is not in us, yet)
by making rape- and incest-related abortions illegal, by allowing madmen to carry handguns in public without permits in 22 states including my own little private paradise, Texas…..
THEY are making us homeless.
By shedding crocodile tears on television while India gasps for oxygen, by raiding people’s privacy, homes and bodies through social media monitoring (Hello, China! And now India!).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6hvXeX7ZZ3I (and don’t believe that Dr. Kishore of the Indian Association of Epidemiologists; turned out quite wrong, and quite possibly had a gun held to his head while talking too, right?)
Still, I tried to find imaginary excuses for ‘Modi-ji’ in a recent Facebook post. Forgive me. Not Modi, You. Forgive me.
“Breaking news. See below.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi launches career in Bollywood.
Cries onscreen for COVID victims ‘near and dear to him’ better than Shahrukh Khan could have.
We wish him the very best of luck in his new career as we hope his Baba Vishwanathan will find us a successor who was not sent to destroy earth.”
Risible, eh? Yes. Unless you are dead. Or homeless.
And homeless people, it is known, don’t live very long. Just go see for yourself under the overpass architecture of our great shiny cities.
And who are THEY?
THEY are, a bit, US. Because We put these people in power, in the gilded estates where they sign our lives, liberties, and children’s futures away, instead of putting them—compassionately—in padded cells, after first taking away their fun gun toys.
Here’s something I was asked to write recently for The Edition, Kolkata, that might relate:
The other sleepless night I realized the enormity of the situation. Because of uncontrolled gun violence, I don’t know if tomorrow, when my son goes out to work, he’ll come back home to me.
Or, if your daughter, if she is assaulted, will have the right to reclaim the rest of her life.
I am the child of two continents, born in South Asia and come of age in North America. But they are fast making me homeless, in both homelands. At least in America I can write and publish this (even in Texas where supposedly guns aren’t killing people, people are [minor detail: these would be the people who carry guns without checks or permits because they can, though they shouldn’t be allowed to]). In my other homeland, India, I could be in jail for this post.
The latest fancy high-end political lark of the party of Modi in India is to ban end-to-end encryption by WhatsApp, which is the equivalent of listening in to every conversation you have with all your friends, family, and the world for that matter. First, death to the freedom of expression; then, not far to go, military-style execution in the streets (well, Muslims and Dalits in India are already used to that).
FASCISM isn’t coming. FASCISM here. And its Joker face is painted in just the same colors as the colors of your national flag appropriated by operatives of the mass homelessness, mayhem and murder scheme.
Some people pray. I’m all for that. Others? We sleep the sleep of those with a gun held to their head.
No, this mother, woman, citizen, isn’t going to sleep well for some time. Because if the people you voted into power are making you homeless, even your screaming promises of silence will not protect you from the next thing.
But, in other, and excellent news, my young and brilliant friend
continues to electrify with his amazing reviews of current cinema (MINARI 2021)
And, so very sweetly, my brilliant friends at Tupelo Quarterly gave me this shoutout:
“It’s Monday, so here is a TQ Out of Context quote! Today it’s stellar writing advice from @nandinibhattacharyawrites“
Dear Reader, if you’re still looking for that pesky copy of Love’s Garden, look no more!
Reviewers hail it as “wonderfully dense and wise,” “gripping,” “a journey into India’s complex past” and “what women will do to protect those they love” — an epic saga of Indian women living through a century of war and decolonization
And last but not least, I sat down with Tell Me Your Story and Koral Dasgupta again, and here’s what followed:
The itty bitties:
Folks, I was born and raised in India and have called the United States my second continent for the last thirty-odd years. Wherever I’ve lived, I’ve generally turned to books for the answers to life’s questions, big or small (that includes philosophy and recipes). My first novel Love’s Garden was published in October 2020. Some nice people have said some nice things about it (Buzzfeed; Medium.com; Foreword Reviews; Goodreads). I’m currently finishing my second novel about about Caste and Hindutva politics in Narendra Modi’s India and love, racism, xenophobia and other mysteries in Donald Trump’s America, titled Homeland Blues.
My short stories have been published or will be in Oyster River Pages, Saturday Evening Post Best Short Stories from the Great American Fiction Contest Anthology 202, the Good Cop/Bad Cop Anthology (Flowersong Press, 2021), Sky Island Journal, The Bombay Review, Meat for Tea: the Valley Review, Storyscape Journal, Raising Mothers, The Bangalore Review, PANK OyeDrum, and more. I’ve attended the Bread Loaf Writers’ Workshop, the Vermont Studio Center residency, the VONA residency, Centrum Writer’s Residency, and others. I was first runner-up for the Los Angeles Review Flash Fiction contest (2017-2018), long-listed for the Disquiet International Literary Prize (2019 and 2020), a finalist for the Reynolds-Price International Women’s Literary Award (2019), and received Honorable Mention for the Saturday Evening Post Great American Stories Contest, 2021.
In a related avatar, I’m Professor of English at Texas A&M University, USA and teach and write about English literature, South Asia Studies, Indian Cinema, Postcolonial Studies, Colonial Discourse Analysis, Gender Theory, Film Studies, and Critical Theory. I founded and directed (2007-2017) the South Asia Working Group of the Glasscock Humanities Center at Texas A&M University, and rom 2012 -2014 directed the Graduate Studies program of the English department at Texas A&M University. I’ve published three academic monographs and many articles on film, world literature, feminism and visual culture, colonial and postcolonial discourse analyses of literature from the eighteenth century onwards, gender in South Asia, and travel writing. The latest of these is Hindi Cinema: Repeating the Subject (Routledge 2012). I’ve received grants and fellowships from the Huntington Library Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellowship, the Regional Worlds Program of the Globalization Project (Ford Foundation) at the Chicago Humanities Institute, and the Lilly Foundation.
I love (because I read!) Jhumpa Lahiri, Megha Majumdar, Amitav Ghosh, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Jose Sarmago, Salman Rushdie, and last but not least, Chimamanda Adichie.
I was sighted at these spots recently:
Invited Workshop and Reading with a focus on Love’s Garden at Dev Samaj College for Women, Panjab University, India, February 2, 2021
Book Launch at Brazos Bookstore, Houston, TX, Oct 27, 2020, 7–8 PM CST
Podcasts: Desi Books Episode 21
Interviews: Nandini Bhattacharya speaks on “Tell Me Your Story” Digital Conversation, April 10, 2021, 8 am CDT, on MONEY/MOOLAH/THAT THING THAT THEY SAY MAKES THE WORLD GO AROUND, and Colonialism, Gender and Writing; Oyedrum; Lois Lane Investigates; Tupelo Quarterly; Critical Flame