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

crime-British Columbia

Three arrested after Surrey RCMP-involved shooting in Newton

AMY REID SURREY NOW NEWTON — Three people are in custody following a police-involved shooting in Newton Friday afternoon. Shortly after noon, plainclothes officers attempted to…
Continue Reading »

Immigrant-language test

Woman loses Canadian citizenship for failing language, knowledge tests after it was granted in error

ADRIAN HUMPHREYS POSTMEDIA NEWS A would-be Canadian who received a grade of zero out of six on her citizenship language test and four out of…
Continue Reading »

India-Kashmir-Obama

Pakistani PM Sharif asks Obama to play role for resolution of Kashmir issue

MUNIR AHMED THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ISLAMABAD — Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Friday asked the U.S. President Barack Obama to play a role in…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

crime-British Columbia

Three arrested after Surrey RCMP-involved shooting in Newton

AMY REID SURREY NOW NEWTON — Three people are in custody following a police-involved shooting in Newton Friday afternoon. Shortly after noon, plainclothes officers attempted to…
Continue Reading »

Whitecaps2

Spice Sports: Whitecaps announce new USL PRO team!

GOPI AND THE GORA FOR VANCOUVER DESI An exciting announcement was made this morning at UBC’s Gerald McGavin Rugby Centre. Soccer fans in Vancouver will…
Continue Reading »

Immigrant-language test

Woman loses Canadian citizenship for failing language, knowledge tests after it was granted in error

ADRIAN HUMPHREYS POSTMEDIA NEWS A would-be Canadian who received a grade of zero out of six on her citizenship language test and four out of…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

desi bride loaded in gold

Indian bride draws flak for wearing $700,000 jewellery at her wedding

CEN AGENCY An Indian sweet maker made sure his daughter was the golden girl at her upcoming wedding by covering her in gold jewellery worth…
Continue Reading »

India

Video: Bear mauls Indian farmer to death, injures second man (Warning: Graphic Content)

VANCOUVER DESI An Indian farmer was mauled to death and another left seriously injured after a terrifying and unusual bear attack in Karnataka on Monday,…
Continue Reading »

Spiderman

Video: India’s real-life Spiderman scales buildings with bare hands

VANCOUVER DESI A 27-year-old man in India who is nicknamed the “real-life Spiderman” has become one of Karnataka’s leading tourist attractions for his ability to effortlessly…
Continue Reading »

desi victim

Victim of ski accident to open spinal-cord recovery centre in Richmond (w/video)

NICK EAGLAND VANCOUVER DESI Dhruv Kapoor realized he was in deep trouble as he barrelled down a ski run in Russell, Man., on an icy…
Continue Reading »

op-ed

Aziza Sindhu: How do you grieve for a tyrant father?

AZIZA SINDHU CALGARY HERALD My father, Salim M. Sindhu, passed away on Nov. 10. As a child, I wished he smiled at me, as a…
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

Bollywood

Aamir Khan and Deepika Padukone the next hit Bollywood couple?

HINDUSTAN TIMES Bollywood actors Aamir Khan and Deepika Padukone are known to deliver hits on their shoulders alone. Now, audiences may be in for a…
Continue Reading »

Bollywood sex video

I can’t take nonsense: Sonakshi Sinha on why she lashed out at KRK on Twitter (w/gallery)

HINDUSTAN TIMES Some Bollywood stars tend to be diplomatic about controversies, and choose not to react. Sonakshi Sinha isn’t one of them. Last month, she…
Continue Reading »

Bollywood wedding reception

Photos: Khan-tastic wedding reception for Salman’s sister Arpita

VANCOUVER DESI While celebrities have reached the wedding reception for Salman Khans sister Arpita and businessman Aayush Sharma to wish them their best, photos have…
Continue Reading »