From the Polyphonic World of Hindi Fiction

A contemporary Indian novelist explores the question of why she chose Hindi over English

01 February 2011
Geetanjali Shree: “People of my background have grown up surrounded by at least two languages, unsystematic, skewed, uneven in both.”

THE STORY OF MY DEVELOPMENT as a writer of Hindi fiction is a personal story, but like all stories about the self, it includes many other people as well.The modern Hindi language—the insatiably expansionist Khari Boli—and its literature evolved coevally with the emerging nation. And I, born a decade after the historic midnight, fell right into the midst of the ferment. Even as the relationship between the nation and the Hindi language and its literature was being worked out, Khari Boli was establishing its own relationship with north India’s other languages and dialects.

In post-colonial India, unlike when we were struggling for freedom, the choice of language comes laden with peculiar attitudes and it’s these attitudes that I’d like to explore. To the educated, English is the lingua franca and using it is almost more natural than using their mother tongue. To this day, I am asked in wonderment why I write in Hindi when I can do so in English.

There begins my story as a writer.

Geetanjali Shree is a Hindi novelist. Some of her work has been translated into other Indian languages as well as into English, French, German and Serbian.

Keywords: postcolonialism language Hindi Geetanjali Shree Indian novelist Khali Jagah Hamara Shahar Us Baras Ramayana Akbar-Birbal Alibaba Shrilal Shukla Tirohit Khari Boli