On the screen I saw tanks rolling through dusty streets, and fallen buildings, and forests of unfamiliar trees into which East Pakistani refugees had fled, seeking safety over the Indian border.
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As a child, I felt that the Indian part of me was unacknowledged, and therefore somehow negated, by my American environment and vice versa. Growing up, I was impatient with my parents for being so different, holding on to India the way they did, and always making me feel like I had to make a choice of which way I would go.
Even printed, on pages that are bound, sentences remain unsettled organisms. Years later, I can always reach out to smooth a stray hair. And yet, at a certain point, I must walk away, trusting them to do their work. I am left looking over my shoulder, wondering if I might have structured one more effectively.
I feel that Italy's a country that's constantly looking out and constantly following what's happening in other cultural centers. What is being written in America, what is being published in England, what is being published in France. It's a culture that's always wanting to absorb and inform itself of other works, other writers, etc., etc.
I feel very grateful for the way I was brought up. I did not realise it then, but as I grew older and started writing and realised the material that was there was very strong, I felt very grateful that my life was complicated and that my identity was never clear but put me in a position that was always questioned.
I find it really liberating to be in a place where I am a foreigner in every way. I've lived with this all my life - this divide, this bifurcation. And in Italy, I don't feel it. There's none of that tension, only the expectation I place on myself to speak the language well. I find it relaxing. Something drops away, and I observe.
I recently discovered the work of Giorgio Manganelli, who wrote a collection called 'Centuria,' which contains 100 stories, each of them about a page long. They're somewhat surreal and extremely dense, at once fierce and purifying, the equivalent of a shot of grappa. I find it helpful to read one before sitting down to write.