NITASHA KAUL
STORY: THE CREATIVE
One should speak in dead languages. Converse with the inanimate. Suppose. Suppose. Suppose. All the time.
THIS PAGE IS CURRENTLY BEING UPDATED. PLEASE SEE THE ALREADY UPDATED CV AND RESIDUE PAGES.

As of now, this page gathers some of my work as a writer, poet, wanderer.  


NOVELS


RESIDUE

..."It is a letter Keya. Supposing you got a letter. You open the envelope. And inside is a letter. But it isn’t a letter. It’s a blank sheet of paper. Can you imagine that?".

"That is bizarre. I never thought of it".

"That blank sheet, sent to you on purpose, it could be anything, couldn’t it? It’s everything the person sending you couldn’t put into words. They wanted to express but couldn’t and they don’t know why either. You have in your hands the best expression of their feelings, but it is a blank sheet of paper".

I am repeating myself. She turns to face me but continues to listen in silence.

"That blankness leaves you no choice. You can’t talk to an absence. It is a perpetual missing. If you never responded to it, it’ll still be there. If you wrote on that blankness, you’d always be trying, trying, trying. Oh! it’s terrible. There are no reasons. People give up on other people and then find reasons after the fact"... 

RESIDUE is my first novel. 

Residue is about Kashmiris outside of Kashmir. It charts the eventful journeys in England, Berlin and India, of Leon Ali and Keya Raina, a young Kashmiri Muslim man and a Kashmiri Hindu woman, as they travel through these divided places.

It is a story about the longings of exiles; about identity and mobility. Who we are and how that helps or hinders our ability to move - move, both in a physical sense of movement across borders in terms of the passport, and move, in a psychological sense of moving on from attachments.

Like Goethe's Elective Affinities (a book with a cameo appearance in Residue), Residue is about the emotional chemistry of our private and social lives. The title refers to the remains we have to deal with after events are over; traces of the past and a crucible for the future.

The novel is set in India, England and Germany. Leon Ali and Keya Raina are from Kashmir in India, a place they have not lived in, but are always marked with. They have a different religion, gender, and upbringing. Leon Ali grows up in Delhi with a missing communist father who named him for Trotsky. Through his evolving relationship with Keya, we approach the story of Shula Farid, the beautiful bohemian half-Jewish wife of a staid Bengali diplomat, and her ill-fated affair a generation ago.

'Residue' 
was the only debut novel to be shortlisted for the
MAN ASIAN LITERARY PRIZE in 2009.
 

Judged by Colm Tóibín, Gish Jen, Pankaj Mishra.

There are three excerpts from different parts of Residue at this link

Alison Flood at The Guardian (UK) newspaper asked me for my reactions to the shortlisting, and summed them up very nicely at:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2009/oct/21/subcontinent-man-asian-literary-prize


ECHO-FIX















ECHO-FIX is a contemporary re-telling of the Narcissus-Echo myth.


SHORT STORIES



UNSCHEDULED HALT

..."Age has taught me nothing. It’s strange, you will say. Age doesn’t teach you anything. You make mistakes, learn nothing. And as you get older, anyway, learning anything becomes more difficult. The only thing one gets is some share of a perspective"…










Do we ascend the mountain of age and have only travellers' tales to show for the journey?
Set in the compartment of an Indian train on a summer afternoon, UNSCHEDULED HALT is a story about the monumental illusions of our lives.



THE PAID PEEP


..."It’s a smallish room where these guys sit and monitor the goings-on and a little geniality never hurt anyone. Tell that to Gomay. They are two on a shift at a time, and the guys’ parlance for Gomay’s shift-share is ‘the Maggie-shift’. That’s right, it comes from Maggie Simpson who never talks on the show. Gomay is quiet even when he can see he is irritating the other fellow with his provoking silence. ‘Hey! What’s with the mute? Cat got his tongue?’ the burly one would explode (‘Which cat? That’s what I’d like to know’, his older crony would tease)"...






Many layers of spectating happen in everyday life and much remains murkily unseen.
THE PAID PEEP is set in a large store of a big busy city where a floor worker tells us about Gomé; a peculiar CCTV watchman, an intriguing tele-voyeur obsessed with the Virgin Mary, and in love with an exhibitionist girl on camera.   


THE DAY THAT CAME TO US


..."That is a threat whose proportions cannot be made out. That eerily grows and threatens to take over the whole sky – above the state, above the country and, eventually, above every bit of the earth"...












Set abroad an aeroplane in the skies, the absurdity of the erstwhile 'war on terror' is the theme for THE DAY THAT CAME TO US.
[An irrelevant footnote: For the philosopher-poet in you, think of Derrida's Hauntology in the unnamed THAT]   


POETRY


THE HOUSE I'LL SOON GIVE UP

...
"I’m moving, yet again.
Afraid of memory, of standing
too long by windows and doors,
of creaking floors that tell me
I’m here in the now. I want
no place to be mine, no haunt to
possess, deprive, appropriate me.
Memory re-members, tries to belong.
Restless, the leaf, still mounts
the wind. I am one
in my dreams"
...



The poem seeks to upset conventional common sense about the desirability of
property ownership. The root word ‘‘property’’ echoes not only of possession but also deprivation and appropriation, and a mortgage is literally a death-pledge. Partly inspired by the British obsession with ‘‘housing market’’ viewed with an outsider’s eyes, this is also a poem about the strangeness of marking space through capital, and the fear/fantasy of "owning" dwellings through memory alone.


WANDER-WRITES


STREET WORLD: A VISUAL JOURNEY IN THE GLOBAL CITY

..."Streets, in their many forms, link addresses and mark space. One could even say that they join up the essential architectures of our everyday lives. To go anywhere, one must begin on a street. Yet, compare the experience of -- a wander along nameless narrow alleyways in the historic walled towns of Fez, Zanzibar, Jerusalem, Delhi, Warsaw, Prague, or a stroll along the broad boulevards of Paris, Berlin, Barcelona, Ljubljana, or even being the part of a pavement rush in New York, London, Dublin, Beijing, Bangkok -- with the uniform grid-like patterns of city geography printed on maps, visible from airplanes above and rendered like Mondrian’s abstractions, resembling green and black computer chips, or the intricate labyrinth of ancient Tibetan seals. City streets are an experience and a sensation as much as they are a mode of organising life and livelihood"...








Based on my travels to over 50 countries, STREET WORLD is a thought-provoking journey into the sensory texture of the street: street-life and street-art.



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*Links to, and details of, these and several other creative publications are in the Curriculum Vitae (CV) on this site, which will be kept updated.*