Completing twenty years in Britain led to some introspection on borders, nationalities and the ties that bind us to different places, which I poured into my monthly column for top Asian newspapers Asian Age and Deccan Chronicle last month. Please click on the picture to read more. The photos are of me when I first arrived in the UK twenty years ago (on the left) and now (on the right).
EC: What draws you to the strange, the surreal, the ominous and the macabre?
SSH: ‘Strange’ ideas come to me quite naturally, I suppose, because I’m neuro-atypical. To think within the constraints of convention or ‘normality’ is a stretch because my brain is wired differently. But I also feel that the mainstream that seeks to exclude those they perceive as ‘different’ is secretly not that well-adjusted or ‘normal’ themselves. That all of us have quirks and angularities that we deny, or are unaware of. I sympathise with both the overt misfits and the secret ones. I have empathy for those who find that life, and their own nature, and the lack of understanding from the world around them, have derailed their plans of leading a contented, conventional life. A ‘normal’ life. But as we acknowledge differences more and more, whether in sexuality or culture, or anything else, perhaps we see that there is no such thing as ‘normal’. My imagination teems with those on the margins for reasons of genetics, ostracization, illness, economics, and more, and in my work they find a home.
(Please click on pic for rest of the interview)
it is a haunted world we live in right now. Our deserted public spaces are peopled by wraiths, not just of those who have tragically died in the pandemic, but all of us who have retreated from the world, living a shadow of the lives we once did.
The homes of those who live alone or in unhappy domestic situations are echoing wells of loneliness, and maybe even fear. Even in happy homes, the ghosts of extended family and visiting friends can still be seen flitting around corners.
In their passing on from our lives, though not from this world, they have taken on an otherworldly sheen. Our home in Sherwood forest, where the past incessantly rubs shoulders with the present, is now infested with them.
At least, that was the (im)possibility we were forced to consider when, as the summer progressed and lockdown laid root, our nights suddenly filled with voices…
(Please click on pic for rest of story)
As the coronavirus spreads across the planet, indiscriminately passing from person to person as viruses do, killing hundreds of thousands without heed to nationality as pandemics must, a strange pattern has emerged. A pattern of pernickety culling unknown to contagion…
(Please click on pic to read rest of Asian Age and Deccan Chronicle column. Cartoon from the net)