Why this blog exists

I like lists. So here is a list.

  • This is a blog about being South Asian and writing in English. Of being in love with Urdu, and describing that love with English words.
  • This is a blog about finding my voice, of attempting to decolonize my writing, of appropriating the language of the colonizer to tell my story and carry my voice. Is that really possible? This blog is to test the limits of language, to find that place where language and expression meet and then diverge.
  • This blog is to explore other South Asian writers, primarily those writers who write in English of things English could never do justice. To explore writers who not only seek to appropriate English, but to decolonize with it. Writers who love writing in flavours not inherent to English. Writers, who, nonetheless love they way English lends itself to them, beckons them to weave their stories with her words.
  • This blog is a journey, a research project, and a haphazard love-story in progress.

The title of the blog is Qalam. Qalam is the word for pen (or pencil) in many different languages, including Arabic, Farsi, Urdu, Sindhi, Turkish, and Kurdish. Growing up as a Pakistani, I was always taught by elders to see instruments of learning as sacred. I was scolded if I had books near my feet. The qalam carries a similar significance. In the Quran, the qalam is respected and held so sacred, that Allah swears by it:

Nûn. By the pen and by what they write. (Surah Al-Qalam, 68:1)


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