I have always been a quiet and shy child, and I think I still am. I was brought up to be a ‘perfect’ child, which meant ruckus, naughtiness and tantrums had no place in my day-to-day upbringing. My dad worked in the publishing industry. This meant that there were always books at home, and what else would a quiet child turn to but books?
I could always be found reading, perched eagerly in my bamboo chair in the corner of my mother’s room. And that’s where the journey began.
Dad chose my books for me until his death in 2016, up to which I was reading only what he brought home for me. It was from then when I started venturing out on my own and choosing what I like because my mom never cared enough to check what her son was reading.
Even though I started as a math major at university, this freedom, alongside a compulsory course in Literature convinced me to take up literature as a discipline permanently. Bam! Here I am, a graduate in English and creative writing, something that I had never envisioned four years ago.
This is also where my journey with language and words started. My parents come from multilingual families: most of the members speak both Malayalam and Konkani (regional languages in South of India) at home, and English and Hindi functionally.
This multilingualism informs my identity: even as a quiet child, I have always been encouraged to embrace this multiplicity. This makes sure I have something to turn to when I run out of words to speak, but at the same time, it also gives me something to play with even in the absence of language and speech. It taught me the power and beauty of silence, and this is something I have taken into my academic life: silence as a language that has its own rules and syntax in literature. This also directly informs my queer identity.
As a queer individual brought up in an extremely conservative family, silence is the only language I can use to survive, and it is this politics that I want to explore. In that sense, my writing becomes a very important building block of my identity—it becomes my only mouthpiece, and this is indeed how and why I turned to it.
I hope this editorial internship with Sundress Publications helps me find that space between speaking up and not speaking up, and at the same time helps me give back the support and encouragement I have received at every stage of my life. I also hope I can help people come into a world of reading and writing and carve their own niche in it, a niche they will find comforting and distorting at the same time!
Gokul Prabhu is a graduate of Ashoka University, India, with a Postgraduate Diploma in English and creative writing. He works as an administrator and teaching assistant for the Writing and Communication facility at 9dot9 Education, and assists in academic planning for communication, writing and critical thinking courses across several higher-ed institutes in India. Prabhu’s creative and academic work fluctuates between themes of sexuality and silence, and he hopes to be a healthy mix of writer, educator and journalist in the future. He occasionally scribbles book reviews and interviews authors for Scroll.in, an award-winning Indian digital news publication.
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