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

india flag2

Sporting fans disappointed as Indian flag depicted upside down in Commonwealth Games promotional video

VANCOUVER DESI India is already making headlines as the Commonwealth Games officially kick off in Glasgow – but not for sporting-related reasons. In an official…
Continue Reading »

CABS1

Heaving, hurling taxi patrons will now be charged a $75 cleanup fine

THE CANADIAN PRESS If you’re feeling queasy, step away from the cab. That’s the advice from taxi drivers across British Columbia after the province’s Passenger…
Continue Reading »

INDIA_RAPE_PROTEST_217126232

Angry villagers mob alleged suspects after another girl found hanging from tree in India

KOUSHIK DUTTA HINDUSTAN TIMES A 7-year-old girl was found raped, murdered and hanging from a tree in West Bengal on Thursday, resurfacing horrific memories from…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

CABS1

Heaving, hurling taxi patrons will now be charged a $75 cleanup fine

THE CANADIAN PRESS If you’re feeling queasy, step away from the cab. That’s the advice from taxi drivers across British Columbia after the province’s Passenger…
Continue Reading »

Homicide investigators are on scene at a stabbing in Surrey.

Homicide investigators on scene of stabbing in Surrey

VANCOUVER DESI A man is dead following an early morning stabbing in Surrey. Surrey RCMP were called to the 10600-block 135A Street in Whalley shortly…
Continue Reading »

Vancouver restaurateur Vikram Vij poses with Barinder Rasode at his new South Surrey restaurant My Shanti at an event Thursday night. Submitted photo.

Will Vikram Vij’s ‘support’ be enough to push Barinder Rasode into Surrey mayoralty ring?

LARISSA CAHUTE VANCOUVER DESI Still yet to officially announce a bid for mayor this fall, Surrey city councillor Barinder Rasode had an endorsement party of…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

child abuse

Indian kidnappers agree to handover boy to parents on condition of swapping him for his sister

CEN AGENCY In a bizarre demand, parents of an Indian boy who has been kidnapped, were told that they could have youngster back if they…
Continue Reading »

232-teeth tumour gum

Indian teen boy gets 232 teeth removed from “very rare” tumour in his jaw

VANCOUVER DESI A 17-year-old boy in India underwent a seven-hour long operation on Monday to have a whopping 232 teeth removed from a “very rare”…
Continue Reading »

basketball

Indian minister criticizes ‘no-headgear’ rule after Sikh basketball players told to remove turbans during Asia Cup

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS NEW DELHI — India’s sports minister has criticized the ‘no-headgear’ rule of basketball’s world body FIBA after two Sikh players on the…
Continue Reading »

Greece

Tipsy British tourist asked to leave church after mistaking it for a disco

CEN AGENCY A tipsy British tourist had to be asked to leave a church in Crete where he started dancing after local kids told him…
Continue Reading »

Surrey-weight lifter-Commonwealth Games-Glasgow

Surrey weightlifter Parm Phangura bound for Commonwealth Games

MICHAEL BOOTH SURREY NOW FLEETWOOD — 163+205=368. That stark equation scrawled in the top corner of a chalkboard means little to a casual observer, but…
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

Priyanka Chopra

Priyanka Chopra fought with professional boxers while shooting Mary Kom

IANS Mumbai  – Actress Priyanka Chopra fought with real boxers in Mary Kom, a biopic on the five time World Champion boxer. She says it…
Continue Reading »

Bollywood

Akshay Kumar to host dance reality show Dare 2 Dance

IANS Gurgaon  – Bollywood action hero Akshay Kumar, who has played host of TV adventure reality series Fear Factor: Khatron Ke Khiladi in the past,…
Continue Reading »

INDIA-ARTS-CINEMA-BOLLYWOOD

What stunt scared Jacqueline Fernandez the most while filming Kick?

IANS Mumbai — Superstar Salman Khan has done a lot of action and stunts in Kick and the film’s leading lady Jacqueline Fernandez says that…
Continue Reading »