With the recent public attention given to gay writing in India, the Sufi element in my writing is in danger of being overlooked.

In their edition of Attar's Conference of Birds (Penguin, 1978), dick and Darbandi write that the Sufis believed in unorthodox love including homosexual love in order to shock the orthodox. Sufi love was characterised by two elements, namely, loss of self and overwhelming devotion to love.

The two concerns are the main concerns of my poetry albeit in a modern, secular context. Where God was I placed the loves.

Attar's story of Shebli best summarises the fate of such poets. Being old and impotent Shebli wasted his time contemplating boys. He could have more profitably contemplated God.

Hoshang Merchant
Hyderabad 1999

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