Bloggers in India Mourn the Untimely Death of Shakti Bhatt

Bloggers in India have been mourning the untimely death of Shakti Bhatt, who passed away in Delhi last Saturday night after a sudden and unexpected illness. Shakti – who was in her mid-twenties – was the editor of Indian publishing house IBD’s newly launched Bracket Books and the wife of well-known Indian poet Jeet Thayil.

Delhi-based journalist-blogger Jai Arjun Singh has posted excerpts from his informal interview with Shakti, in which her informed-yet-inclusive, warm-hearted attitude towards writers and readers comes alive -

I'm not the first to say that we could do with more narrative non-fiction. It's easier said than done, because writers need advances for research and travel, and few Indian publishers are willing to fork out that kind of money. One can argue that it would be money well spent, especially if they have a marketing plan to back it up, and that bigger publishers should be more open to taking a risk, if there is one. It is a genre that deserves to be encouraged also because of the scarcity of creative journalism in India.

Mumbai-based journalist-blogger eM – who many believe to be the next big thing in Indian chick-lit – has written a moving post on her friendship with Shakti -

When I think of her, I think of sitting in her living room watching her hula hoop, backwards and forwards, smiling, her hips working, her arms outstretched. “You're a lucky man,” I told her husband once, with all sorts of hidden innuendos at that hula hooping and he smiled at me and said, “I know.”

Delhi-based writer-blogger Nisha Susan has written about her shared dreams with Shakti -

I have only known her a few months but I saw years ahead of us, keeping pace, as we both wrote and conquered the world. I would be published and famous. She would be that strange beast no one has seen before, a successful publisher with impeccable standards and a serious novelist.

Delhi-based desi lit blogger Nilanjana Roy has written a beautiful post about Shakti's infectious vivaciousness -

Jeet and Shakti had one of the most open houses in a city that takes hospitality seriously. Shakti was always at the heart of those evenings, the one who encouraged us to try to use a hula hoop, to do zany writing experiments, to read serious poetry in a seriously unserious manner. She believed in the importance of silliness, and in her company, I found myself letting go, letting my hair down, relaxing into the moment.

Well-known US-based Indian writer Amitava Kumar, Mumbai-based desi lit blogger Peter Griffin, South Asian Journalists Association (SAJA) Forum's Arun Venugopal, New York based Indian blogger Anand Taneja, Delhi-based journalist-blogger Shivam Vij and Delhi-based travel writer Lesley Esteves have all written moving posts remembering Shakti.

Finally, friends of Shakti and Jeet have started a blog, Remembering Shakti, and invited readers to leave a remembrance of Shakti, or a word for Jeet.

I never knew Shakti, but from what I have read about her in the last few days, it seems that she was a warm, vivacious and talented woman. My thoughts are with her friends and family as they mourn in her memory.


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