New Westminster poet brings to life the voices of those who perished in the 1985 Air India bombing

Published: October 24, 2013
renee-saklikar-children-of-air-india

Haunted: Poet Renee Sarojini Saklikar with her book, children of air india: un/authorized exhibits and interjections. Saklikar’s book recalls the 1985 bombing of Air India Flight 182, in which Saklikar lost an aunt and uncle. Jason Lang

DON HAUKA
ROYAL CITY RECORD 

Renee Sarojini Saklikar was buried deep in the archives when she started hearing the children’s voices.

And although she hadn’t intended to write poetry about Canada’s deadliest act of terrorism, the voices demanded it. The result is children of air india: un/authorized exhibits and interjections, the first book of poetry about the 1985 bombing of Air India Flight 182.

“It’s very hard to talk about, but if you believe in ghosts and the soul, then you’ll understand that voices did rise up and speak to me, particularly the children,” said Saklikar.

“I didn’t start out to write about this tragedy in a poetic way. These voices claimed me.”

Sakilkar’s aunt and uncle were among the 329 people who perished on June 23, 1985, when a bomb placed aboard the airliner exploded above the Irish Sea. There were also 82 children who perished.

Saklikar is still haunted by the sunny June in 1985 when her aunt and uncle made their one and only visit to B.C.

“My aunt was my mom’s youngest sister. She was very passionate about women’s health. She was an expert marks-woman and very warm,” she said.

In some ways, Saklikar began writing her book the moment she and her family got the news of the bombing. But it didn’t start taking shape until 2009 while she was at the Writer’s Studio at SFU. She began delving into the archives, intending to write a personal memoir.

But as she plowed through the pages and pages of court documents, transcripts and letters, she started to hear the words leaping off the page.

“A certain phrase or page would speak to me,” she said. “This book is about language, whether it works or doesn’t work.”

Over the next three-plus years, Saklikar worked as the poems took shape. She has produced deeply personal poetry that explores personal loss set against public trauma. Published by Nightwood Editions and distributed and marketed by Harbour Publishing, the book is described as a “docu-poetic collection.”

Saklikar also writes thecanadaproject, a lifelong poetry project that chronicles her life from her birth in India, her childhood growing up across Canada and her current career on the West Coast.

Daughter of the late Rev. Vasant Saklikar (longtime minister of the Sixth Avenue United Church and school trustee who died in 2002), she is married to B.C. NDP leader Adrian Dix.

What is her hope for the book?

“One hope I have is people will think about the question of violence and how it touches us when we don’t want to be touched by it,” Saklikar said.

“With so much pain and suffering, violence demands something of us. I hope the reader will contemplate on that.”

Read more stories from Royal City Record here.


Tags: , , , , ,





Featured

Andrew Macdonald, regional general manager for Uber Central, which includes all of Canada and the Central U.S., admits that Uber hasn’t always been in control of its message.

Can Uber bury its PR disasters once and for all and prove it’s a force for good?

KRISTINE OWRAM FINANCIAL POST When Uber Technologies Inc. launched its UberX ride-hailing service in Toronto last September, it went out of its way to make…
Continue Reading »

Yellow police crime-scene tape and evidence cones surround a crashed car after a shooting in Surrey that resulted in a man’s death Sunday. Wayne Leidenfrost/PNG

Man killed in Sunday morning Surrey shooting linked to recent spree of violence; is nephew of NDP MLA Harry Bains

FRANK LUBA VANCOUVER DESI A shooting death early Sunday in Surrey has been linked to the recent spree of shootings in the community, police said…
Continue Reading »

Ankit Keshri. Submitted photo/Facebook

Young Indian batsman Ankit Keshri dies after freak field accident during one-day cricket match

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS KOLKATA, India — Indian cricket batsman Ankit Keshri died early Monday, three days after suffering a head injury in a freak accident…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

Breast cancer in South Asian women often diagnosed at later stage: study

By Sheryl Ubelacker THE CANADIAN PRESS TORONTO — Women of South Asian descent are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer in its later…
Continue Reading »

Yellow police crime-scene tape and evidence cones surround a crashed car after a shooting in Surrey that resulted in a man’s death Sunday. Wayne Leidenfrost/PNG

Man killed in Sunday morning Surrey shooting linked to recent spree of violence; is nephew of NDP MLA Harry Bains

FRANK LUBA VANCOUVER DESI A shooting death early Sunday in Surrey has been linked to the recent spree of shootings in the community, police said…
Continue Reading »

Canada in middle of the pack in global poll on environmental concern

By Bob Weber THE CANADIAN PRESS A new global poll of consumers in 23 countries suggests Canadians are middle of the pack when it comes…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

Indian recipes-Vancouver Desi

Taste India: Mix creamed spinach with crispy paneer

RANDY SHORE POSTMEDIA NEWS When I go looking for ways to use garden greens, I often turn to Indian cuisine. Saag paneer is creamed spinach…
Continue Reading »

Vancouver-Surrey

Sikh community celebrates a harvest of goodness in B.C

JAGDEESH MANN VANCOUVER DESI For Vancouver publisher, Harbinder Singh Sewak, the dream was four years in the making. This week, as millions of Sikhs around…
Continue Reading »

Narendra Modi welcomed in Toronto

Photos: Modi-mania hits Canada

VANCOUVER DESI Check out photos of Indian Prime Mininster Narendra Modi’s visit to Canada. RELATED STORIES: “Rock-star” Modi to get Bollywood-style welcome at Surrey Hindu…
Continue Reading »

Desi-shooting-Surrey

11 of 19 Surrey/Delta shootings between South Asian, Somalian groups

Even the wounded won’t help cops investigate drug dealers’ war KIM BOLAN POSTMEDIA NEWS METRO VANCOUVER — Two groups of young drug dealers who have…
Continue Reading »

Royal Wedding

Aga Khan’s eldest son Prince Rahim and his wife Kendra Salwa Spears announce birth of first child

VANCOUVER DESI The Aga Khan’s eldest son Prince Rahim and his wife Princess Salwa (Kendra Salwa Spears) announced the arrival of their first child Tuesday….
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

FRANCE-ENTERTAINMENT-CANNES-FILM-FESTIVAL

Bollywood divas Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Sonam Kapoor to dazzle Cannes 2015 (with photos)

IANS Mumbai – Actress Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, who is gearing up for her comeback on the silver screen, will be scorching the red carpet of…
Continue Reading »

Sonam Kapoor

Gallery: Bollywood fashionista Sonam Kapoor’s “Indian elements” at Cannes

VANCOUVER DESI As Bollywood actress Sonam Kapoor, our very own desi fashionista who likes fusion fashion and has often chosen classy ensembles with “Indian elements”…
Continue Reading »

Aishwarya Rai

Gallery: Aishwarya Rai’s hot and not styles at Cannes

ALMAS MEHERALLY VANCOUVER DESI When the world’s brightest stars walk the red carpet at Cannes this May, movie fans will be watching closely. Former beauty…
Continue Reading »