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Aik Masoom Critique….

Syed Khalid Anwer
Someone was once asked how he managed to finish so many books in a year, with his very busy schedule. He replied, that he carried a book with him and while on the phone someone said, could you please hold in a minute, he would start reading. The story is of dogged determination, that is come what may, if one is determined, things are achieved one way or another. And if one had a book, there always are waiting areas, queues, and indeed airport lounges. And did Umar’S idea of the book not conceived at one of the lounges.
Umar’s situation is quite similar. With a very busy clinical practice, a lot of travelling, to attend international meetings, to present papers, to chair meetings. A very busy family life and a varied circle of friends and not to forget participating in sports.
Sometimes an idea just hooks on and would not just go away, resurfacing again and gain, gnawing at you, till you really notice and do something about it. Ideas are fickle, they lie deep and dormant and then not unlike fish would resurface to breathe, shimmering and gliding , on the surface, birds see the chance and their is an orgy of diving frenzy. One has to get hold of as many as possible before they dive deep and disappear forever.
Ameen Baig had mentioned about the earlier manuscripts containing, notes scribbled on tissue papers. I can relate to that as well, there are hordes of notes jotted on envelopes, napkins, edges of newspapers, an attempt to capture the fickle thoughts as and when it comes.
Behind all that though is the intense love of the beloved country, the place that is symbol of our existence. Where one had spent the childhood, early adulthood, the base of all the experience and happy memories and lessons of life.
Umar spending the time in active politics and being a very effective student leader had the foundations laid to study first hand how the society worked, the strata the divisions,,the fault lines, the struggles. No wonder at the time of elections, at the Dow gates, masses gathered, eager for the victory and what an unbridled joy has been exhibited, with the dances, the songs, and the phenomena procession that was taken out after the election victory.
This is a story of a Nation in turmoil, an upheaval, a Nation who has seen glorious days and is at the crossroads.
Stories are interesting. Stories are everywhere.we all make use of stories everyday and our lives are shaped by stories. Stories about what happened in our dreams or at the dentist, stories about how we fell in love or the origins of the Universe, stories about war and peace.
Not only do we tell stories, stories tell us: if stories are everywhere, we are also in the stories. It is our story too.
One of the paradoxical attractions of a good story, in fact is understood to be its balance of digression, on the one hand, with progression towards an end, on the other.
One of the most fundamental distinctions in a narrative theory is that between ‘story’ and ‘discourse’
There is a double structure,,the level of the told(story) and the level of telling( discourse)
Russian formalists call them fabula or skirt, the French structuralists call them eiter( recite(or histories) and discourse.
Story in this sense involves the events which the narrator would like us to believe occurred, the events implicitly or explicitly occurred. Discourse on the other hand involves the way in which these events are recounted,,how they got told, the organisation, the telling.
There are different kinds of narrators, third person, he unlocks the door and entered the house, the first person, I unlocked the door and entred the house. Subjective or objective, reliable or unreliable , the so called Omniscient , narrator.
It is an interesting choice for the author as some stories would just limp if the choice of narrator is not right nor is the point of view.
Umar has an interesting choice if the Omniscient narrator…..


Aik Masoom Critique– part two

An omniscient narrator is privy to all the characters, be it, Aslam Khan, Shamrooz Khan, Khasta Khan, Jamila or their daughters. Intimate with their thoughts,, their feelings, their concerns, their anxieties and fears, their dreams and hopes even their secret desires.

Where does one begin and when does the text begin.
Is it the first thought that comes in the author’s head or the first sentence he writes or types.
Or does the text only begin as the reader picks up the book.
The reader have to read the first sentence then the next and so on, that is the beginning.
When does the beginning ends. Is it the first paragraph , the first few paragraphs, first chapter.
The beginning starts when the reader is drawn in. The journey starts.
One can start the story near the end and work his way backwards.
Or start at the beginning!
No journey, no life, no narrative ever really begins, all have in a sense begun before the beginning!!

In John Milton’s great epic, Paradise Lost( 1667) begins by returning to the beginning:

” of man’s first disobedience, and the fruit
Of that for identity tree, whose mortal taste
Brought death into the world, and all our woe
With loss of Eden, till one great Man
Restore us, and regain the blissful seat”

It is also about itself as a beginning, it assures us that this is the first time that such a project has been attempted
‘ things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme’

Not only the poem does talk about the beginning, the eating of the fruit of knowledge, but it also refers to the return to a time before the beginning(‘ regain the blissful seat’)
A restoration which will be both beginning of a new age and repetition of a previous state.

Beginning in the middle , “MEDIAS ReS” is another way to begin.

One of the most famous beginning in the middle is Dante’s opening to the Divine Comedy(c 1307-20)

Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita
Mi ritrovai per una delve oscura
CBS la dirk tat via era smarrita”

( midway in the journey of our life I found myself in a dark wood, for the straight way was lost)

There are at least three different middles here.
Middle of our life, middle of a dark wood , the middle of the narrative.

Pakistan’s story is uncannily similar, aren’t we finding ourselves in the middle of a dark wood with straight way being lost. With all the political, religious, social upheaval and even an existential mark hanging overhead!

How this has come about and brought about, we have been a reluctant witness to it

Umar has aptly alluded to it that how the feudals, the Industrialists, the Nawabs played a role and how these groups have a nefarious hold still, carving out their interest and let nothing come in their way that would interfere , or block their vested interest.

How fruitful and different it would have been if we had leaders who had the vision, the courage, the wit and wisdom to encounter these issues.
To have worked for the whole nation, for the unity, prosperity for all the regions, to promote, health, education and a purpose for the nation, a direction.
Instead the nation was lowed to drift rudderless, with the factions and divisions incur ed. in unchallenged , the gap between the rich and poor, the haves and have mots increasing day by day, with lack for the respect of law with a weak judiciary, rampant corruption, nepotism, adha ism, lack of respect of merit and total lack of fear of accountability. The recipe of a troubled nation. The most important is lack of education and even basic education. Poor people in the villages with eight to ten children with all the practical issues of mouths being fed, jobs, marriages and other social evils and upheavals. One can only imagination the frustration and helplessness of a father and mother, crestfallen is the image that crops up. Situations like these are ripe for exploitation by the religious groups who on the pretext of providing basic education, food and shelter and some money for the family prize young impressionable souls for indoctrination and the. To be used for whatever purpose they want them to be used for.
Human mind is absolutely magnificient capable of doing wonders,reaching new heights of intellectual greatness, but the. It can be easily hypnotised!
We have seen on live TV, with the click of fingers, the mind can be controlled and the person is doing what they are instructed to do , hopping on one leg, digging imaginary ground of whatever their handler asks them to do. And with a snap of the fingers they come out of the stance , hardly remembering or recalling what happened.
These young minds are also hypnotised and in total control, totally lacking any power or capability of rational thinking or decision making. If you you have noticed any one on the TV, they appear so agitated, there is no eye contact, as if they were in a trance, far away, totally disconnected.
Recently there was an interview by a would be fidaeen. The anchor was asking him questions whether he was worried about his family. The spine chilli g reply was that if their family was there as well, they would still not hesitate , meaning nothing could deter of distract them from their mission. He was asked whether he ever considered getting married, the reply was” aik ka Kia karna, wohan tu 70intezaar kar raheen hain” how brainwashed these guys are, not a sliver of sense and realisation the it is the teaching of Quran that one should refrain from taking even a single innocent life.
The situation is dire at the moment. It sometimes seem hopeless , irreconcilable. A very difficult task to turn things around but nothing is impossible, with the right will,tons of courage, astute handling and willing to compromise and showing magnanimity in offering sincere apologies where things have gone wrong and a sincere desire to put things right, things can be improved. It is a long road head, but one has to begin somewhere.
Umar has done a good twist in the tale, by bringing Khasta khan to Karachi, his father being dead, the nation going through turmoil , the story has the potential to take varied routes!
And he did let slip about Malala meeting Obama!
Sometimes art imitates life and indeed life imitates art!!!!



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