By OUR STAFF REPORTER
DEHRADUN, 15 Nov: Among the several academic sessions of the Valley of Words Literature and Arts festival currently underway in Madhuban Hotel, here, the session, titled “Recuperating Narratives: The Raj and After”, focused on three crucial texts which deal directly or indirectly with the protagonists/ antagonists of the British Raj. Writers Keki N Daruwalla, Sudhir Kakar and Swapna Liddle talked about their recently published books. The session was moderated by critic and writer Satish Aikant and chaired by Rahul Singh, the veteran journalist and author. Daruwalla’s book Swerving to Solitude: Letters to Mama written against the backdrop of the Emergency of 1975 has the protagonist as MN Roy, the leading intellectual of the twentieth century, who impacted deeply the worldwide communist movement in the 1920s and was the founder of the first communist party outside Russia, the Mexican Communist Party. Sudhir Kakar, a renowned psychoanalyst and author of six fictionalised biographies, talked about his latest novel, The Kipling File, which deals with the complex personality of Rudyard Kipling better known as the Bard of the Empire. The novel touches upon the lesser side of Kipling – the compelling contradictions in the man, the sadistic streak in him, his contempt for the natives, particularly for the Hindus, and his dark side as he frequented the opium dens and brothels of Lahore. He had a complicated relationship with Kay Robinson (who assumes the role of the narrator in the novel) his editor at the Civil and Military Gazette. The third speaker was Swapna Liddle, author and historian who spoke at length on Connaught Place and the Making of New Delhi. Liddle, who heads the Delhi chapter of INTACH, has been passionately attached to the history and cultural heritage of Delhi and has been working strenuously to promote awareness for preservation of cultural monuments. She talked at length about the making and unmaking of the colonial authority symbolised by architectural symbols of New Delhi. The audience engaged in a lively question and answer session with the speakers on the panel.