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This interview is taken from PN Review 138, Volume 27 Number 4, March - April 2001.

in conversation with Sujata Bhatt Vicki Bertram

VICKI BERTRAM: Could you tell me about your childhood: what kind of childhood it was, and then, maybe, how you think it creeps into your writing? Were you also writing then? When did you start writing?

SUJATA BHATT: I was born in Ahmedabad, India, in 1956 - and spent my first months in my maternal grandmother's home. In India it is a custom for women to go to their parents' home for the birth of their children and so my mother had gone to Ahmedabad for my birth. My father was working in Poona then and my parents lived in a flat there. Well, some of the crucial years of my childhood took place in India - in Gujarat and in Maharashtra to be more precise. I find it difficult to summarise or 'explain' my childhood. In a way, it's all there in my poems. Poems such as 'Muliebrity', 'The Doors are Always Open', 'Buffaloes', 'Udaylee', 'Living with Trains', (from Brunizem) and 'Maninagar Days', 'Understanding the Ramayana', 'The Daily Offering', 'The Echoes in Poona', (from Monkey Shadows) and more recently the poems, 'A Memory from Marathi', 'After the Earthquake', 'The Pope, Tito and the WHO', and 'My Mother's Way of Wearing a Sari' (from Augatora) draw heavily upon my childhood experiences.

For example, the girl who gathers cow dung in 'Muliebrity' is someone I saw on a daily basis. Of course, real incidents have to be transformed in some way to work as poems. ...


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