Kinshuk Gupta
Vani Prakashan
January 1, 2023
Final Verdict

About the Author

Kinshuk Gupta is a medical student, bilingual writer, poet, and translator based in New Delhi. He writes columns centred around books, gender and sexuality in major newspapers. He has been awarded the Dr Anamika Poetry Prize (2021), Ravi Prabhakar Smriti Laghukatha Samman (2022), and Akhil Bhartiya Yuva Kathakar Alankaran (2022). Gupta edits poetry for Mithila Review and Jaggery Lit and works as an Associate Editor for Usawa Literary Review. His debut book of short fiction, Yeh Dil Hai Ki Chordarwaja, the first modern Hindi LGBT short story collection, is published by Vani Prakashan.

Kaleidoscope of Diverse Realities and Stories: Yeh Dil Hain Ki Chor Darwaza by Kinshuk Gupta

Amritesh Mukherjee reviews Kinshuk Gupta’s ये दिल है कि चोर दरवाज़ा (Vani Prakashan, 2023) observing how it presents perspectives that help you see the world through a different lens.

Stories are essential. Some make you dream, while some help you escape. At the same time, some stories portray reality in its various shades and colours, presenting perspectives that help you see the world through a different lens. ये दिल है कि चोर दरवाज़ा (tr.: Is it a heart or a trap door?), a collection of short stories by Kinshuk Gupta, published by Vani Prakashan, is something like this.

Kinshuk Gupta begins by writing about how LGBTQ+ stories often are limited to cliches like coming out or my truth, creating new stereotypes in some ways rather than showcasing the minute intricacies of life. As Toni Morrison says in that popular quote, “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”

This book can then, perhaps, be best summed up as an exercise in showing the varied aspects of life in all their colour and simplicity.

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Kinshuk Gupta’s Story Titles

One of the first things that strike you as you start reading the book is the story titles. Take, for instance, a story titled “तितलियों की तलाश में” (tr.: In Search of Butterflies), a kid who’s sexually abused at the forefront of it, characters all searching for their freedoms, and for lost innocence, one way or the other. Or the story titled “बीमार शामों को जुगनुओं की तलाश” (tr.: Sick Evenings Looking for Fireflies) wherein the main character, lost and beaten by the corrupt and unethical world around him, searches for a way out.

It’s an interesting assortment of tales, and the chapter titles only serve to highlight those differences and infuse them with symbols and metaphors.

Portraying Reality

One of the few works of LGBTQ+ literature in Hindi, it’d be rather tempting to write something more sensational, something more in line with what you see in many stories today. Not to invalidate them, but surely normalization requires more than one kind of story, yeah?

There’s a sense of stagnation in these stories, almost as if time has come to a standstill as if the present moment is taking its own sweet time to play out, and this sense of stagnation, or permanence, whichever you prefer, makes you pause and live in the moment being portrayed in front of your eyes.

If you want to read more queer literature, then check out 12 Autobiographical Queer Books In India.

And that is where this book shines the brightest. One story revolves around a woman, lying in a COVID ward, reminiscing on how she doesn’t want to die without dignity, craving for some intimacy amidst all the isolation and distancing, yet getting none. Another has a sister coming back to her family after years, with emotions conflicting with each other, having been ousted for her sexual orientation. Yet another story sees a woman trying to establish sexual contact with a man, who firmly tells her off. “I’m ace… I love you, but only emotionally.”, as the other character wonders aloud, “What kind of love is without physical intimacy?”

These are simple stories, but to a reader coming across them for the first time, it can go a long way in establishing new kinds of stories and characters and offering new perspectives.

A Hope for the Future of Hindi Literature

While awareness increases with time, we’re yet to see many stories in mainstream literature that embraces diverse types of relationships, outside of the conventional heteronormative roles we’re used to watching and reading. This book gives one hope that many more works would crop up in Hindi literature around homosexuality and queerness, for literature has been, is, and always would be one of the most vital tools in shaping society. And it is with that hope that I’d end this review here. Because always remember: stories are essential, no matter how small, no matter how long.

Best Quotes

“जरा-सी मुस्कान उसके चेहरे पर आने को होती है कि सामने उसे अपना घर दिखता है। जर्जर, धूल से सटा पड़ा। खिड़कियों की शीशे आधे-पछादे टूटे हुए। बाहर टँगा ओम जंग खाया हुआ। माँ वीडियो कॉल से ज़्यादा बूढ़ी, अशक्त लग रही थी। उनकी चोटी जो इतनी लंबी हुआ करती थी, कुत्ते की पूँछ जितनी बची है। बाल भी सफ़ेद, जगह-जगह गंजापन। कुर्सी डाले वह किसी दूसरी औरत से बात कर रही हैं।

वह सामान उतारती है, ऑटो वाले को सौ रुपये पकड़ाती है, और माँ के सामने जाकर खड़ी हो जाती है। माँ की आँख में चमक है जिसे देखकर वह अजीब-सा अपनापन महसूस करती है। वह माँ को गले लगाना चाहती है, पर किसी असहजता के कारण लगाती नहीं।”

Have you read this Hindi literature around homosexuality and queerness? What do you think of it? Drop a comment below and let us know!

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Amritesh Mukherjee

Amritesh Mukherjee

Amritesh doesn't know what to do with his life, so he writes. He also doesn't know what to write, so he reads. Gift him a book if you chance upon him and he'll love you forever.

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