The residents of the Jhuggi Jhopri Resettlement Colony in Delhi’s Savda Ghevra are not residents by choice. They have been pushed to the outskirts of the city after waves of evictions, most recently in the run-up to the 2010 Commonwealth Games. On 2 November, I visited the colony to meet a 16-year-old girl whose words had managed to find their way to central Delhi. Aanchal, an eleventh-standard student, had had her first story published, in the October issue of Hans, India’s most prestigious Hindi literary magazine.
Aanchal’s short story, titled “Saikal ke Sapne”—Dreams of a Bicycle—is about a young girl’s yearning for a bicycle, with an intensely detailed account of her thoughts as she waits for her parents to come home with it. “Like Premchand, I want to write to expose the truth,” she told me.
The story was published in a column called “Ghuspaithiye”—intruders—which features stories by authors below the age of 20 who come from the margins of society. “Their childhood,” the column declares, “is made not from books as much as from the struggles of their environment. These struggles are found preserved in their stories.” Writers like Aanchal do not belong to any literary circle, and in recognising that, their stories are published as intruders within the carefully guarded walls of literature.