Lily’s Walk and other stories…

highwycombe_gate  World'e End

There are a number of loose ends in the book and in the editing process I cut out a lot so I’ve started writing a sequel and a further one to form a trilogy of books about the town. The other two books even have working titles. I wanted to extend the theme of roads and place names in High Wycombe so the second book is going to be called ‘LILY’S WALK’ and the second ‘WORLD’S END’. They will pick up from where ‘WEST RICHARDSON STREET’ ended.

Not going to give too much away but rest assured these books will be out in the next year or so as I’ve got so much to say. The action will take place immediately after the first book and a few years later (2010-2011) as well as looking at other relevant periods of the town’s history and then with the final book everything will be brought up to date. Unless you are living on another planet you will know that High Wycombe has been the news again due to more terror raids and young men going to Syria. I’m going to be exploring some of these issues and the dynamic that exist with some of the new characters .

I have to deal with a great deal through my day job and the campaigning that I’m involved with. Writing keeps me sane but crucially gives me a creative outlet to explore what I see in front of me and to try and make sense of it.

Khyaal Rukna/Be safe

Saqib

Mad rhymes for mad times

WRS4  Image (27)

‘A little insight into the going on in a town which is both beautiful and tragic, where the rich and privileged live pretty much side by side with the homeless, drug addicts, poor, vulnerable and the disenfranchised, but yet they all live in a world of their own. With their own rules, regulations, expectations, hopes, fears and of course face saving tactics. A must read, I look forward to more from this author.’

‘A great read if you are from High Wycombe and like me remember the 1970s and 80s in the town. Well researched and well written.’

‘A funny amazing story, with good characters and plot, an awesome must read.’

Mad month with the novel finally coming out. Had some good feedback and sales – seem to be selling a copy a day through orders and direct to folk. The novel facebook page has created a nice buzz and I’m getting hundreds of views every week. Did a short interview with the local paper and starting to do some readings. I did one at Arts4Every1 on the 7th of November as a part of an open mic session and got a great response. Got a slideshow with some music from my bro Jaydev Mistry that I’ve also done that I’ll be using soon. Looking to do a booking signing at my local Waterstones bookshop and perhaps maybe a little book launch. Thanks for all the support and encouragement from peeps it makes it all worthwhile.

Have now finally finished doing Kindle version for all you geeks and those who love reading books on a screen! Note to self for the future and all those thinking of publishing to this or any ebook types remember its all about FORMAT! Write it to this medium first folks then format it for conventional publishing purposes. Will post some useful links/videos soon.

Got some further news that I will share soon (real soon)

Stay wise

Saq

West Richardson Street now OUT!

a1d08aed-7b2f-41e0-8bb1-7de47bda2ede_jpeg(1)

Finally got the novel out . Big shout to family and friends and to all those that have supported me. Book is available through Createspace where I published it and through Amazon direct. You can also order it from your local bookshop I have been told. Currently out on paperback and working on the Kindle version.

Been a serious labour of love so glad to get it out. Happy with it overall but needed to let it go as it was driving me mad (all you writers will know what I’m chatting about)

Got a special present for you folks and that is the whole First Chapter (25 pages) to tickle your literary taste buds.Those of you on Twitter see the links and retweet and put on Facebook PLEASE.

Want people to read the book and enter the world that I’ve created from the deepest bowels of High Wycombe!

Big love

Saq

Why I’m writing Rukhsati

 SophieLens_2014_06_07_13_10(2)‘Nothing up here except old offices, toilets and dead memories – kooch nahin’

I’ve always wanted to write a two hander (a play with two characters) and had these two characters in my head from the play ‘RUNNING’ that I wrote more than 20 years ago as part of a Aajkal Theatre production (It’s our 25th anniversary this year – so watch this space). This particular scene involved a young Pakistani man in a girls toilets in a school chatting to his girlfriend who he assumes is in a cubicle but has evaded him. The young man is called Tariq and the young woman Nighat and that scene was one of my favourites esp as we had to actually build a toilet cubicle on stage when we performed it at Abraham Moss Theatre in 1991! The actor Shahid Ahmed (28 Weeks Later, Syriana, Yasmin) was in that play and played the character of Tariq the Pakistani wide boy from Cheetham Hill.

Some characters never leave you and neither do certain plays. A few years earlier I’d watched a play called ‘SOUL NIGHT’ by Tunde Ikoli. It was a simple two hander involving a black and white couple in a toilet of a nightclub with the DJ and the sound system in the background. It made an impact on me as from a simple situation Tunde carved out a whole world of missed chances and regrets. When it came to writing that scene in 1991 I’m sure the way he set the whole play in a lavatory came to mind. Now in 2014 as I write ‘RUKHSATI’ the Aajkal play and the characters come to mind. I wanted to find out what happened to Nighat and Tariq – did it work out for them? Were they happy and content and what has changed. By revisiting all this I’m revisiting myself and my history and those days of bhangra all dayers and illicit couplings. I’m also back in the khazi with this play being set in disused toilets above an old wedding/Shaadi hall.

Rukhsati        large-Rukhsati

‘RUKHSATI’ is about a young woman who didn’t leave her parent’s house on her wedding day. It’s about a young man who made a decision to leave the country when the going got tough. It’s also about two middle-aged people who struggle to come to terms about the decisions they have made and whether by revisiting them they can find new hope. A subversively sweet two hander about love, life and lotas.

I’m hoping to get it staged so all us 40 something’s can wallow in nostalgia and whilst it will make more sense to those who are South Asian and Desi I think there’s enough there for everybody. I’m also conscious that I wanted to write two meaty parts that actors would enjoy getting their teeth into. The fact that both are Pakistani is important to me as I don’t see us being treated as multi dimensional human beings in the media and it’s not the greatest time to be a Muslim either.

The writing is still raw but has my darkly comic style and will need developing but if I get my brother Shahid into a rehearsal space and find a Nighat then we can do this and get this shit out.

Let me know if you want a read of a draft. Getting close to finishing it – I write plays fast and its taken me about a month to complete what is looking like a one act play. I think I’m at my happiest when I’m writing as I inhabit the world of the characters I create and it’s a release from the normal bollocks of life. From 1989 to 1993 I also deejayed in clubs and played at bhangra gigs so those times are close to my heart. Catching up with my bro Tariq and sister Nighat has been a bit of a emotional rollercoaster but have loved every minute. I just hope you’ll love it too.

Be good

Saq
July 2014

We (still) have no orders to save you…

We have no orders to save you

It’s been a depressing last few days with the election of Modi and the BJP in India. I think it’s significant  that he’s got a majority and will have a clear mandate for his anti-Muslim politics. The Congress had at least a veneer of protection for Muslims and Dalits. The atrocities of 1993 and 2003 and Modi’s role in this stand out for me. All the anti-BJP forces will need to come together to challenge him.

Image   Gujarat-Riots7

‘The body remained in the yard the charred out remains a black memory of the mob. She was now the same colour as the tavvar in the kitchen.’

I wrote this short story a few years ago in 2003 about the massacres in Gujarat in 2002 after I had read a report from Human Rights Watch called ‘We have no orders to save you’ which researched the state participation and complicity in the the communal violence that had taken place. A fire on a train had killed 79 Hindu pilgrims and after Modi had claimed terrorists had committed this crime thousands of Muslims were attacked and killed. The incident haunted me and I even named my first blog after this report. The horrific absurdity of Indian Muslims going to police officers and being told this they had no orders to protect or save them goes to the heart of state sanctioned neglect and violence. More details and report here:

http://www.hrw.org/reports/2002/india/

The police were directly implicated in nearly all the attacks against Muslims. In some cases they were merely passive observers. But in many instances, police officials led the charge of murderous mobs, aiming and firing at Muslims who got in the way. Under the guise of offering assistance, some police officers led the victims directly into the hands of their killers. Panicked phone calls made to the police, fire brigades, and even ambulance services generally proved futile. Several witnesses reported being told by police: “We have no orders to save you.”

The full story is in the link above for you to read and download. I’m hoping to put together a collection of the short stories that I’ve written over the past few years.

Stay strong and hold it down people in these merciless times

Saqib, May 2014

PS. Working on novel cover currently and just got the foreword sorted so watch this space

Dropping bombs on Downton Abbey

 

WP_20140409_001   tumblr_mkngswzzLf1r1cuhyo1_500 300px-Three_Lascars_on_the_Viceroy_of_India

I’m starting to research a piece on Black Londoners in 17th/18th century going up the start of the First World War. I want to capture the stories of Africans Indians and Chinese on these shores and in particular the capital.

Rationale:

 ‘We were brought to the docks and stately homes as flotsam and jetsam and chattel for the merchants and aristocrats as servants and playthings. Some broke free and survive and prosper on the streets of the city, some were broken…’

The explorers and entrepreneurs from Africa and Asia – telling the stories from their perspective rather than their experience just being a reaction to the West. Narrators describing London as they see it and giving voice to the invisible ones, written out of history and getting a sense of the sizeable black population of the city in the 18th century. What was it like on the streets of London in parts of Central and East London – black pubs and cafés? What was life like by the docks where the only trace of our presence is in the road and tube names?

Look at overlapping stories of our presence in London town – stories of African, Indian and the Malay and Chinese communities. Develop different angles and characters that profile and expose people’s journeys and intimate lives.Look to include a range of male and female characters as well as different backgrounds and occupations/roles and ages. Look at privilege and deficit models, eugenics and scientific racism – being taught white ways and traditions. Look at the role of Africans in challenging slavery and how they were viewed by the white anti-slavery movement. The vast majority of characters to be African and Asian and cover black on black and mixed relationships – let’s turn the tables and tell tales where we are not a minority. Populate it with rich world worn characters full of passion and despair trying to create a new life with one eye on their home countries.

Our take on McQueen 12 years a Slave film and the likes of Django with a more nuanced but still critical take that includes the experience of other colonised peoples and that looks at the impact of white supremacy and issues of collusion and ‘passing for white’

We need to write to remember Kelso Cochrane, Charles Wootton, Aftab Ali Baig and all the others who have lost their lives in previous times and who have no names and remain invisible to us all. Got to bring the presence of our communities centre stage and destroy the myth that we have only been here since post war days. Got to populate a perspective of the city with black and brown faces that show that we have been here for hundreds of years and restore our place in this country’s history. Create a cacophony of stories that will shatter the white mental mind state.

Got to drop bombs on Downton Abbey!

Saqib Deshmukh
April 2014

 

Some Retrospection

Going through all photos and flyers from previous times. Loads of anniversaries coming up. This year it is 30 years since as a school kid I set up AIR theatre a multi-racial youth theatre company in London funded by the GLC so looking to have a reunion and put a website together. It’s also 25 years since a group of set up Aakjal theatre in Manchester which had a South Asian focus so will be looking to do the same. So as part of this I’m going be putting together one or two anthologies of the plays that I have written – some of them with these companies and the newer stuff in the last decade or so:

Rewind poster  Image (22) Dostoh posterBlack & Blue posterAajkal6Antigone flyer

List of plays under consideration:

  1.  Antigone – Highfields Centre 2009
  2.  Top set in PE – Highcrest school 2005
  3.  Rewind – Wycombe Youth Action  2004
  4.  The Boy who never died – Green St Young Leaders 2003
  5.  Dostoh – Aik Saath Project 1999
  6.  This TV does not speak Punjabi – Aajkal Theatre 1992
  7.  Brothers – Aajkal Theatre 1991
  8.  Black and Blue – AIR Theatre 1988

Important to get my stuff out – been sitting on it for too long and I think peeps will be interested. Plays were written at different stages of my life in different locations – London, Manchester, High Wycombe and Leicester and capture those times.

Stay wise

Saqib D, March 2014

First Draft

Image Image

So I dun it…

After six years and 4 months I’ve finished the first draft of West Richardson Street!

It’s gone out to a few select people to read and I’ve worked up a further draft based on initial feedback. I want to thank all the people who’ve believed in me and kept the faith. A section from the synopsis:

West Richardson Street is about the past and the present histories of High Wycombe.  About lives lost over pieces of dirt and how particular roads and areas of the town resonate with dark and unspoken tales. It’s about placing the arrival of Asian and African Caribbean people to Buckinghamshire in a historical context and making them part of this history rather than existing outside of it. West Richardson Street looks at the town throughout the ages but in particular before the war where the furniture industry in High Wycombe was at its height, the early eighties where there were riots and finally 2007 and the paranoid times after the 2006 terror raids.

I’ve developed a full synopsis which I’ll put up shortly

So what happens next?

I will be sending the novel to some publishers and looking at a few self publishing options which will mean getting it out as a paperback and an e-book for Kindle etc. Will be a launch of some kind and hoping to hook up with Arts4Everyone venue in HW. I’m hoping my bro Jaydev Mistry the acclaimed Manchester based musician will be putting a soundtrack together for it

Not sure how peeps will respond – looking for a wide audience but also smash some perceptions about what Asian writers should be writing about. I think the book is perceptive and captures the times that we are in by looking back deep into history. Finishing it has been vital to me as it means I can start to focus on other writing projects and get that shit out too. Too much going on and too much to document to rest on my laurels.

Thanks for being there

Saq

November 2013

A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us

Image

“I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound or stab us. If the book we’re reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow to the head, what are we reading for? So that it will make us happy, as you write? Good Lord, we would be happy precisely if we had no books, and the kind of books that make us happy are the kind we could write ourselves if we had to. But we need books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. That is my belief.”

 Franz Kafka

Been off work for a bit so got my head down and working on the 1913-14 section of the novel. Can be hard writing white characters in a historical context so been trying to read history and about the politics of the time locally and nationally. Trying to keep the provocative tone and the sense of injustice that prevails but also wanting to explore the world of unseen landscapes and stories untold; as the writer Robert Macfarlane writes ‘finding the boundless in the bounded, and seeing visions in ditches.’ It’s also an area that George Monbiot has written about looking at the editing of the history around possession of the land and the dispossessed. In many ways I want to fuck up the nice pristine view that Buckinghamshire has of its history and High Wycombe in particular, and look at the roots of working class resistance and what those brave new immigrants from our countries had to deal with it when they reached after the war in serious numbers.

Why you’ll never find execution or eviction on a National Trust tea towel:     http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2009/feb/24/monbiot-civil-liberties

So book is coming together and I promise those of who contact me to proof read and give me feedback will be rewarded with a copy and here’s another extract in the meantime:

West Richardson Street: Anna’s story

 ‘Anna loved the days when spring finally arrived in the town. She could stay out longer when the light stayed on, and she and her little collection of children in most need for correction could enjoy their adventures. They would follow the course of the Wye through crest beds and the meadows around Loudwater through the grotty town where all manner of debris was deposited, to Sands and Dashwood’s lands where they would be chased by game keepers and assorted grounds men. They would go stickleback fishing and wade through the water searching for coins. One warm April Johnnie McManus, a relatively junior member of their gang found a bag of coins in a small ornate sack. After much squabbling and deliberation it was decided that Johnnie be allowed to keep the stash on account of his old man being a drunk and infirm and not being able to work and all.

 This time the discovery was rather more unusual and disturbing. They had been down Oxford Road by the intersection with Bridge St when they had found the item. The Cornish twins Meg and Moe had been bombing underneath the bridges that ran from the main road to the outside of the terraced houses that lined the path. It had been a dry few weeks so the river level was low and despite the constant smell of Newlands around them and the fetid stagnant water they would dare themselves to run down through the arches and wade through to the other side. This time however the twins had been down there for several minutes, and Anna who always felt a sense of responsibility to her younger charges glanced anxiously downwards wondering if the water had claimed them. She heard them utter an almighty scream accompanied by loud shrieking as they emerged shaking and shivering

‘It’s a man – there’s a man down there!’ exclaimed Moe the slightly taller one with the big ears.Meg came up behind her dripping wet ‘But it’s horrible he’s got noooo’ she coughed and stuttered as she struggled to get the words out‘What hasn’t he got?’ demanded Annie in disbelief. In unison they both chanted ‘He’s got no arms and legs!’ Anna and her gang were in shock – they had discovered a limbless corpse on Oxford Road. All manners of murderous motivations filled her mind but she knew that she had to act as the twins and the rest of the motley crew could be in serious trouble. She got them to follow her up one of the alleys to a stretch of ground from prying eyes and listening ears and convened a meeting. All of the gang realised that this was a serious situation as these meetings were unusually rare. Normally they would only be organised if they were at war with another crew. But ever since the Downley boys had received a public thrashing from the one of the Constables that threat had subsided. Indeed PC Snelling had left his mark not only on the red crusty buttocks of the unfortunate boy but with the rest of the local uncorrectables in the town.

 ‘I have a plan’ Anna said with her arms folded behind her back after she had paced up and down whilst her acolytes waited for her deliberations.‘I don’t know what’s going on and what kind of evilness has done this but we got to tell the Bobbies’

Anna proclaimed looking at her crew for signs of reaction. ‘I’m not going to the station house again not after what they did to my brother’ said Maggot who’s family had a number of dealings to do with the police on the account of them being involved in petty thieving and such like.

‘I’ve not made my mind up who it will be yet though. Maybe we’ll write a note and deliver it to em’

They looked at each other wondering who would be nominated for this fearsome task and how this diminutive flamed haired 12 year old girl exercised power over them. Since her 10th birthday she had seen off all the male competitors by fighting them on the land behind Desborough School. Her toothy grin was testimony to her tenacity and bravery.’

As always stay wise

Saqib D, August 2013

We have no orders to save you…

  WP_000740

New Job and moved in with my Pops in London so behind on deadlines for the novel but working hard to get into some kind of shape. It exists now physically as a bound document that travels with me everywhere.  Tried some workshop ideas at an arts event in Wycombe recently that didn’t work out but feel I’m getting closer than ever to finishing this off.

On a crazy whim decided to enter a Short Story Slam at a local arts festival (see above) and was joint winner which was a big surprise. I read an extract from a story called ‘We have no orders to save you’ which seemed to have some impact on the audience. I had a few people ask me for the full story through FB so here you go – don’t complain I don’t give you nuthin!

We have no orders to save you

I wrote this a few years and it’s about communal violence in India in 1993. The title is also the name of an infamous photo blog that I used to have when camera phones first started coming out. For those who would like some background there is some here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demolition_of_Babri_Masjid

West Richardson Street is taking up a lot of my creative energy right now but there is so much other shit I need to get out. Got a collection of short stories under the heading ‘Incoming calls only’ that I want to put out and these are the stories:

  1. Death by Bhangra
  2. Rukhsati
  3. Khushee Number 2
  4. Ill communication
  5. Cost of Loving
  6. The Kutha & the Mosque Committee
  7. We have no orders to save you

Also got a collection of plays that I will chat about next time

My bed is calling me so be safe and hold it down

Saq, May 2013