Sunday, March 13, 2011

Random Thoughts on a Sunday Morning

It’s Sunday morning; 5:20 a.m.  I am not on a morning walk as I would usually be at this time because it was agreed upon.  The alarm buzzed up at 4:58 with “Mora saiyyan mo se bole naa..” I just switched it off and tried to lie asleep, but could not do so even for 15 minutes and got up.  I cannot stay on bed even for a second after I get up.  There was no question of going on a walk.  It was against what was agreed upon and again it would have created a new turmoil in the teacup.  So, as there is no better option left to me and as the surplus of thoughts would not get such peaceful time in the day ahead, I am here on my PC writing something (that is really not what I wanted to write) for Ghalibana…

The week that passed was a wonderful one as usual.  As it is said – yeh aasmaan, yeh baadal, yeh raaste, ye hawaa (this sky, these clouds, these roads, this air) – everything was on its correct place and I had no real complaint against the world (or I had the biggest ever complaint against it).  After a long time, I read a few blogs which I had been following for a long time but could not visit them in a while – Gladys, the Kenyan undergraduate, is exceptional.  She really writes wonderful and I was so much happy to see her happy; I wrote a long comment on her latest post Just Because :).  I had also been on Olive Oyl’s blog after a long while.  Oh God, she is getting more and more philosophical.  I had last read her on her 20th birthday when she wrote “Now that I am getting out of the so called formative ages, I am supposed to take stuff around the world very seriously” I think she has really taken this thought seriously and has gotten a new pair of specs, philosophers’ specs.. :)

And a lot many things happened, but as I wrote on Facebook on last last Saturday night - we are human beings, civilized ones as they call us... We cannot go naked out in the world... And last night, I noted a poem by Meena Kumari “Naaz” on FB – This night, this loneliness, the ticking of heartbeats, this silence… Everything is calling you, come for a moment… Give a new dream to my closing eyes… I don’t know why I go such bizarre on Saturday nights, or may be I know it, just cannot go naked out in the world.

Again, I wrote a quote from The Dialogues of Plato on Facebook as my status (Oh, how quickly I forget that I have no one there to understand what I mean).  I wrote:

Now the only difference, Socrates, between you and Marsyas is that you can get just the same effect without any instrument at all; with nothing but a few simple words, not even poetry.

And as expected, I got a comment:  Please elaborate…

So, this was the last week, or say this was a part of it that I can tell without going naked – otherwise, the earthquake in Japan, the tsunamis, the ICC world cup going on, the match against South Africa yesterday in this very town, the defeat in it… These are like the things of some other world… Or like I am an alien from some other world who gasps for air on the Earth.  And why I am talking about the past week when it’s a Sunday morning and I should wake up with a “bismillah ir-rahman ir-rahim” thinking of the wonders yet to come… I don’t know… I know nothing… Who I am, why I am, who are you, why are you, and what you are doing here on my blog…?  It’s Sunday morning and now it’s 6:06 a.m.  Now, I should get up from my computer and buzz like an alarm to wake everyone up… We were to go on a walk at 6 a.m. this morning…

A Hairy Chihuahua which made me laugh a lot yesterday.  Photo By: Bonnie van den Born at CC-BY-SA 3.0


P.S. Hey, sorry, I asked you what are you doing here on my blog dear… You know, everything… You are Omniscient… You know what and why I am writing… You know even what is between the lines… you know we are civilized and still I don’t need to hide my nakedness in front of you…  It’s is Sunday morning and cannot stop missing the Chihuahua…

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Khol do by Saadat Hasan Manto: A Shocking Experience

Saadat Hasan Manto (1912-1955) was a prolific writer of Urdu short story.  He was a journalist, literary critic, screenplay writer, play writer, and a keen observer of the society in which he lived.  He is inarguably one of the most read authors in Urdu prose literature even today.  Manto’s stories are often criticized for sexuality in them, but as Manto himself had said “if you find my stories dirty, the society you are living is dirty.  With my stories, I expose only truth.”

“Khol Do” is one of the most famous and controversial stories of Manto.  It is one of the masterpiece depicting the effects of violence during the partition of India on the people of the land.  But unlike many others, Manto does not see the perpetrators as Hindu or Muslim, Hindustanis or Pakistanis, he just sees and depicts them as human beings with all their wilderness and barbarity.

“Khol Do” is basically a story of a father ‘Sirajuddin’ who had to left India during the partition days.  Story starts with Sirajuddin finding himself on the railway platform of Mughalpura, Lahore.  After the dreadful journey from Amritsar to Lahore in which hundreds were killed and injured and lost and raped, he just lay down for hours on the platform of Mughalpura.  He wakes up from his unconsciousness only to find that his wife and daughter are not with him.  As he is still in daze, the image of his wife, about to die, with ripped open stomach comes in front of his eyes, just telling him to leave her alone and run away with Sakina, his daughter.  And then suddenly he realizes that Sakina is not with him, nowhere.

Sakina, his daughter, the daughter whom he cared for too much, that he could not even leave her dupattta there in all that chaos when it slipped off her shoulders.  He still finds the dupatta in his pocket, but where is Sakina…???  He tries to find her everywhere, still couldn’t find her and finally thinks he should ask someone for help.

After a few days, he finds that some young boys are doing a great job of bringing back the daughters and women remained on that side of the border.  With a new ray of hope to see his daughter, he gives her description to those boys.  “She is fair, very pretty. No, she doesn’t look like me, but her mother. About seventeen. Big eyes,black hair, a mole on the left cheek. Find my daughter. May God bless you.”  Sirajuddin prays daily for their success and after a few days they find out Sakina…

Here we can see the vision and capability of Manto to see the naked truth.  Those boys were out to find out Sakina and they have now found her… She was the daughter of their land, from their side of border.  She had already gone through a lot.  The boys behave very kindly to her and make her feel at ease but they tell nothing about her to her father even when he asks about it.  Manto tells nothing about what is done to her, what the boys do… Only when Sirajuddin asks them about her, they just say “we will find her soon, we will!” and Sirajuddin just pray for their success…

And a few days later, people find a female body, half dead, near the railway track.  In hopes of finding Sakina, Sirajuddin goes behind them to the hospital.  The last portion of the story is worth to read in original.  It is the most shocking part of the story and perhaps the most shocking piece of prose ever written.  I have never read such thing in my life and even now when I read it, for Nth number of time, I find it similarly shocking.  I am going to end this post with that part as I won’t be able to write anything after it.  The end goes like:

He stood outside the hospital for some time, then went in. In one of the rooms, he found a stretcher with some-one lying on it.

A light was switched on. It was a young woman with a mole on her left cheek. “Sakina,” Sirajuddin screamed.

The doctor, who had switched on the light, stared at Sirajuddin.

“I am her father,” he stammered.The doctor looked at the prostrate body and felt for the pulse. Then he said to the old man: “Open the window.”

The young woman on the stretcher moved slightly. Her hands groped for the cord which kept her salwar tied around her waist. With painful slowness, she unfastened it, pulled the garment down and opened her thighs.

“She is alive. My daughter is alive,” Sirajuddin shouted with joy.

The doctor broke into a cold sweat.

Shocked… to think of what would have happened to a girl of 17, who just hearing “Khol do” opens down her salwar in spontaneous reflex… shocked with the the capacity of Manto to see, perceive, and depict the truth as naked as it is… Shocked with the courage of a writer to write such a self-critical thing (those boys were on his side of the border)… And the government charged Saadat Hasan Manto for the charges of pornography…

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