Daak Vaak brings many lost and unknown literary works to the forefront

Daak Vaak—a digital repository of South Asian literature—has become a platform that brings many lost and unknown literary works to the forefront.

author_img Anjani Chadha Published :  30th November 2021 10:54 AM   |   Published :   |  30th November 2021 10:54 AM
Daak Vaak seeks to make the work of important authors accessible

Daak Vaak seeks to make the work of important authors accessible to readers

Even though postcards have more or less vanished from our lives, its mention can evoke both amazement and nostalgia. When a medium with such material memory attached to it is paired with excerpts from literary works of renowned writers, the result is an evocative repository like Daak Vaak. 

Started by Onaiza Drabu (31) and Prachi Jha (34) in 2017 as a result of their mutual love for reading, Daak Vaak—a digital repository of South Asian literature—has become a platform that brings many lost and unknown literary works to the forefront. 

“We both read various South Asian writers. Neither do many people know about them, nor do a lot of translations exist. So we thought we would start a newsletter and write about what we read and share it with other people who were interested in reading,” shares Drabu. “There is very little exposure to our own culture and literature in the education space. Onaiza and I used to read and we just randomly decided to share it this way,” adds Jha. 

Literature in the spotlight
From Agha Shahid Ali to Kamala Das, Daak Vaak attempts to expand the horizons of the literary world by publishing works of both widely read and undiscovered authors, with their focus being on South Asian writers. “Our literary world is restricted. We mostly read the authors we are aware of. Only when someone recommends a certain author or a piece is when we read their work,” Drabu says.

Publishing a mix of literary texts and historical facts, accompanied with snapshots of artworks by painters or historical pictures, Daak Vaak seeks to make the work of important authors accessible to readers. Their newsletter—that the readers receive in the form of a daak (postcard)—has an indelible sense of nostalgia attached to it. No wonder their follower base has expanded exponentially over the years.

Talking about the research required to curate posts for the page, both Jha and Drabu say that while a lot of their posts are a result of their extensive reading, their followers also send in their recommendations from time to time.

Letters in new age
The idea of calling their newsletter ‘Daak- Postcards from the attic’ resulted from a series of conversations between Jha and Drabu. “Postcards have a lot of resonance among people. We know how people used them as a means to communicate with their loved ones. Millennials or anyone who grew up seeing postcards have fond memories associated with it and we thought why not brand it this way,” Drabu shares.

As the idea struck a chord with people, Drabu and Jha started printing and retailing these postcards through their website. They organised a postcard exchange during the pandemic wherein people had a chance to write a letter to a stranger as a measure to counter pandemic-induced seclusion. “There was a sense of extreme isolation. People wanted to connect, reach out to someone and we just started the letter exchange. It was a great exercise to get together,” shares Jha.

“The theme of letter writing has also caught on since it is very nostalgic, very much like the writers we talk about,” concludes Drabu. 

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Daak Vaak

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