The Usawa Newsletter February ‘24

    How JLF helped me with my undiagnosed dyslexia and ADHD

    In the bustling city of Jaipur, amidst the vibrant colours of its streets and the rich tapestry of its culture, lies an event that has woven itself into the very fabric of my life—the Jaipur Literature Festival. For eleven years now, this festival has been more than just an annual event for me; it has been a source of inspiration, transformation, and belonging.

    I remember my first encounter with the festival vividly, a timid newcomer navigating the crowded halls and bustling tents alone. I had always struggled with reading and writing, haunted by undiagnosed dyslexia and ADHD, enduring ridicule from classmates and a sense of isolation. But fate intervened when the festival came to my school as part of its outreach program. Surrounded by strangers yet enveloped in the warmth of literary conversations and shared passions, I found solace and a sense of community.

    Over the years, the Jaipur Literature Festival became my sanctuary, a refuge where I could explore the vast expanse of literature and ideas, unhindered by my learning differences. With the support of my family and teachers, I embarked on a journey of self-discovery, gradually embracing reading and writing as not just challenges to overcome, but as gateways to understanding, expression, and connection.

    As the years passed, my relationship with the festival deepened. I eagerly anticipated each edition, counting down the days until I could immerse myself once again in its lively discussions, captivating sessions, and eclectic mix of voices. From attending sessions on history and arts to engaging in conversations about queer identity and social change, the festival broadened my horizons and enriched my understanding of the world.

    But it was not just the intellectual stimulation that kept drawing me back; it was the sense of belonging and kinship that I found among the festival’s organizers, volunteers, and fellow attendees. The Diggi family, with their warm hospitality, welcomed me into their fold, making me feel like a cherished member of their clan. And Sanjoy Sir, with his boundless generosity and encouragement, became not just a mentor, but a guiding light on my journey.

    With each passing year, the festival became not just a space for learning, but a catalyst for personal growth and empowerment. It bolstered my confidence, honed my communication skills, and instilled in me a passion for lifelong learning. Inspired by the diverse voices and stories I encountered at the festival, I began to find my voice, weaving my experiences and insights into the tapestry of my writing.

    This year, as I entered the festival grounds, I carried with me a new sense of purpose and determination. My goal was clear—to find an editor for the book I had poured my heart and soul into, a testament to the transformative power of literature and the Jaipur Literature Festival itself.

    As I navigated the labyrinthine paths of the festival, attending sessions, networking with fellow writers and publishers, and soaking in the creative energy that permeated the air, I felt a sense of anticipation building within me. And then, on the final day of the festival, as the sun dipped below the horizon and the tents began to empty, fate smiled upon me once again.

    In a serendipitous encounter, I met the editor who would become not just a collaborator, but a champion for my work. Against all odds, she saw the potential in my story, recognizing the voice and vision that had been nurtured and shaped by a decade of immersion in the literary world of the Jaipur Literature Festival.

    As I reflected on my journey, from a hesitant newcomer to a confident writer, I realized that the true gift of the festival lay not just in the sessions attended or the books read, but in the connections forged and the lives transformed. The Jaipur Literature Festival had become more than just an event; it was a beacon of light, illuminating the path to self-discovery, growth, and fulfilment.

    And so, with a heart full of gratitude and a mind buzzing with ideas, I bid farewell to another unforgettable edition of the Jaipur Literature Festival, knowing that its impact would continue to resonate within me long after the tents had been dismantled and the crowds dispersed. For in the world of literature and ideas, the journey never truly ends—it merely takes on new dimensions, leading us ever onward towards new horizons of possibility and discovery.

    -Siddharth Kothari

    A Love Letter to Women’s Stories

    Say hello to the Writing Women Blog, a love letter to women’s stories and our immense storytelling traditions!

    Our instagram and blog space is a growing library of racialized women storytellers, their writings, poetry, book recommendations, and more, all shared within a framework of intersectional and transnational feminism. With a strong focus on translated and nonfiction works, attempts to deepen reflection on what we can collectively gain from the study of women’s stories.

    The space is run by Vijaya Chikermane, mother to a little human, Gender and Health Equity Consultant, and dedicated reader. Contributions to content, art and visioning come from many voices that you can read about on the site. There are a number of ways to get involved in this collective work, we’re always welcome to new connections. And ever grateful for like minded decolonial feminist partners such as Usawa!

    Writing Women is a small attempt at countering the erasure that colonial, patriarchal history perpetrates on Black, Brown, Asian, Indigenous, Trans and queer women’s stories. It is only through curious learning from these voices, can we strengthen the reserves of our collective memory.

    In the words of Ghanaian writer Ama Ata Aidoo “work is love made visible,” if the work of growing a living library of women storytellers is work, then I hope it is in the pursuit of making love visible. 

    -Writing Women