In the Canadian Punjabi literary circles those new writers whose names have started becoming part of literary debates in the last one decade - Kulwinder Khehra is one of them.
Though he is experimenting with many literary forms - his main interest is in ghazal (sonnet) writing.
During these years, Kulwinder Khehra has published his first poetry collection ‘Peerh Di Parvaz’ (Flight of Pain). In this book, he has also included some free verse poems along with ghazals (sonnets). Because majority of his poems in this book are ghazals, we can call this poetry collection as a ghazal collection.
In this book, in the very beginning, Kulwinder Khehra makes clear that his ghazals are, in fact, voice of his innerself. What he cannot dare to say in the day to day life - but he thinks without saying it, he will not be able to sleep with peace - he says those things through the stanzas of his ghazals.
Like a conscious poet Kulwinder Khehra also likes to make crystal clear to his readers that stanzas of his ghazals are not god’s voice; rather, these are a poetic expression of the impressions sufferings have made on his mind.
After reading poems of this poetry collection one can easily realize that Kulwinder Khehra doesn’t waste time of his readers by beating around the bush. He is conscious about the technique of the ghazal writing craft as well as the content of his ghazals. He is not interested in writing such kind of poetry which does not leave an impact on the consciousness of his readers. Only those writings can influence their readers which leave a long lasting impact on the psyche of its readers with a feeling that there is an element of truth in it. Kulwinder Khehra is also convinced with this idea. That’s why he writes in his poetry:
It marks the death of a writer
when he is frightened to speak the truth
Kulwinder Khehra doesn’t hesitate to speak the truth - even if he is tackling the complex issues of social, cultural, political, religious or philosophical nature. He always illustrates his thinking in a very lucid manner. Because as a conscious writer he wants to send his message through his writings to the common people. He believes that if after reading his writings people could not grasp his message than what’s the use of writing his ghazals? Khehra doesn’t belong to such an elite group of the writers who believe that their writings have such a high standard that their readers will be only able to understand meanings of their writings 50 or 100 years from today. Because the mental calibre of the present day readers is very low.
‘Peerh Di Parvaz’ has elaborated the realities of life in a very effective manner. Western economic system operates in such a manner that unless husband and wife are both working very hard, they will not be able to pay their house bills easily. In this situation the daily routine of husband and wife is from house to wok and from work to house. In many situations in their desire to earn extra dollars, they have to work over time also. In many instances, the situation becomes so critical that husband and wife get no time even to exchange a single word with their small growing children. The children spend all their time with the baby sitter. By the time, the parents come back home from the work fully tired children are sound asleep. Next day again husband and wife are in a rush to go to their work in time even before their children wake up. Kulwinder Khehra illustrates this problem in his ghazals in a very effective manner:
1. Just work, installment, sleep is our routine
look what kind of logic of life we are living in
2. Children are only for the baby sitters
parents are only for the work in the city
3. Missing the children, deprived of sleep, wife is mute
this is the kind of punishment i am getting for building a home
Today, we are living in a world moving with a great speed. Everyone is in a rush eager to run over you in its desire to achieve his own personal agenda of life. It is difficult to have a distinction between your friends and foes. It is not easy to differentiate between your own and outsiders. It is far difficult to distinguish between the fake and the real in the society. The highlight of our times is that merely for the greed of a few dollars someone very close to you could assassinate you. On every step in your life, you have to think very carefully that how much high price you might have to pay for speaking the truth in your life? We can also hear the resonance of this fact in Khehra’s poetry:
1. Its a rumour, courtiers of dark forces are looking for that man
who had thrilled the crowd last night with his outspokenness
2. To whom should we trust as a comrade
everyone is hiding a dagger under his garb
3. How can you shut your mouth now
when the evil has crossed
boundaries of our houses
4. How to distinguish between a friend and a foe
they have one face during the night
and another during the day time
In such situations when corruption is rampant in every facets of life, people are murdering each other in the name of religion. Religious terrorism is taking roots in countries around the globe. Politicians have become bankrupt so far as their ethics are concerned, Kulwinder Khehra still believes only those people win in life who never accept defeat. Who stand firm when storms & hurricanes come in their lives and they continue to move forward in the journey of life with firm steps. People with firm frame of minds win at last one day in their life. In Hemingway’s novel ‘Old Man And The Sea’ we also come across a similar character confronting strong winds and waves in the ocean who never accepts a defeat. But Kulwinder Khehra’s following words seem to dito such a character of firm determination in Hemingway’s novel:
1. Hurricanes cannot scare them
they don’t wait for the boats
who want to reach to their destinations
who want to swim the rivers
2. Who search ways of success
from the ruins of their defeats
they are celebrated one day as the winners
those people were called as losers
3. How a glowworm would have earned a recognition
if there was no darkness around
Kulwinder Khehra has spent early years of his life in India. Like many other Punjabi writers, Kulwinder Khehra has also migrated to Canada when he was a young boy. This is the reason he still feels homesickness for his country he has left behind. He dreams about his fields, house, friends and weather he has left behind. In such moments he feels as if he is merely living physically in Canada, but mentally he is absent from here. Such a situation of an ‘outsider’ can be understood through Kulwinder Khehra’s ghazals:
Night is like there, moon is also like there
but my heart never gets any satisfaction out of it
After reading ‘Peerh Di Parvaz’ I have felt that new generation of Canadian Punjabi poets is also very conscious while creating their creations. I have certainly enjoyed reading of this book.
(Malton, September 14, 2008)