And so it begins…..

Born in 1949 in the village of Sohal Jagir, in Punjab India, Parkash Sohal’s love for Punjabi literature started from a very early age. Parkash was always surrounded by books in his house as his father, S. Karnail Singh was an avid reader. He remembers always seeing his father with a book in his hands, and he was very well read in Urdu.

The poetry bug, Parkash inherited from his mother who loved listening to both Sufi and religious poetry. He loved it when it was his turn to read it to her, she would often offer small rewards and bribes to make him read just one more page.

Parkash started writing whilst attending the Higher Secondary School, in Shahkot, Punjab. His Punjabi teacher Mr Fateh Jit was a well-­known published writer. He used to love his teacher’s poetry and often enquire about the deep meaning hidden in his writings. At around the age of sixteen, Parkash won first prize in a story writing competition. After passing his Higher Secondary Exams, he went to Delhi to further his studies, here he came into contact with Mr Marwaha, a middle aged well-­spoken and well-­read man. He enjoyed his company so much that Parkash would often sit in his office listening to his poems for hours and ask for his help on his own writing too. This was also the time when Parkash felt Socialism was the cure for a lot of ills and his poetry reflected his views at the time. He wrote a lot and a few pieces were even published in the monthly literary papers. However, as this was around 1968 and everything was handwritten in those days, his misfortune was that most of what he had written was lost.

The first novel….thirty years in the making …..

Arriving in London in 1969, Parkash felt completely cut off from Punjabi literature, as there was only very little, low quality writing available, nothing thought provoking. He did, however, continue to write, with some of his poetry published in Des Pardes Weekly and Rachna, a literary Punjabi magazine. He knew he had a novel in him, but it took nearly thirty years to put pen to paper. For a number of reasons, but mainly as the subject matter was a very difficult and sensitive one, and also he wanted to base his writings on real life, whether poetry or prose. He would start to write a few pages and then stop, he simply did not have the courage to tell the story as it was. Then in December of 2012, a tragedy in India shook him to the core. ‘Damini’ a young girl was raped on a moving bus in Delhi. The electronic media highlighted the horrific deeds of that rape case. This was not one incident, rape and mistreatment of women has been happening in India for centuries. With his emotions running very high at the sheer injustice of this and the hypocrisy surrounding it, the lid came off his first Novel, and in 2013 ‘Dhuaankhi Aas Da Safar’ was born. This was the story of a shattered dream that took place some forty years ago. It was extremely well received both by the experienced fellow writers and the general public. It was later translated into Hindi and Parkash is currently rewriting an English version.

Parkashs’ love for poetry brought about his second book, ‘Meriaan...Mere Naal Galaan’ in Punjabi. This is a book of his poetry and more importantly it contains a variety of dialogues with his readers and friends. His third book, ‘Ek Kvita Ho Gayee’ is due to be published in March 2015, and is a unique book featuring his diary in poetic form.

Helping others…..

In order to give a little something back to the community, the entire Sohalfamily has established the Sardar Karnail Singh Sohal Trust in loving memory of their Papaji (Father). The aim of the trust is to promote the Punjabi language and help those writers who have quality writing to publish but are unable to do so due to financial constraints. A seminar has been arranged for 1 March 2015 at Punjabi Bhavan, Ludhiana with the co-operation of the Punjabi Sahit Academy.

The future beckons….

As Parkash himself acknowledges ‘better late than never’ most definitely applies to him, and although it took over twenty years to write his first novel, there is now a lot of new work coming your way. He is already working on his second novel, based on a very sensitive subject, that of homosexuality in the Indian community. Even in this day and age, society at large does not accept this; a complex subject so be prepared for some fireworks later.

In the meantime join Parkash for regular updates, comments and general musings on Facebook.


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