Confused…

Cheema is hilarious. I’m talking about the press conference that he had saying that Benazir Bhutto was killed by the lever of the sun roof of her Land Cruiser. Either he himself has gone mad or thinks that we are crazy to believe him.

Another press conference that was entertaining was the one held by PPP. Asif Zardari was the key spokesperson there. Benazir Bhutto, who claimed to be the protector and a fighter for democracy, named her son as the successor and her husband to be the co-chair person of PPP. Is that the true spirit of democracy?! No party elections, she just named her son in her will to be the heir to the throne of PPP! Interesting, isn’t it?!

Today, near my brother’s workplace in North Karachi Industrial Area, things went bad again. One of the factories which resumed the normal working routine was set ablaze with one of the petrol pumps. The rangers which my brother saw in the morning vansihed when they were needed! And the news channels didn’t report this nor did the city mayors confirmed any such reports.

In other words, the common man and his property is not safe. People now are afraid to go out after dark, and even under the naked sun they walk with caution. Life is paralized! Pakistan’s economy is paralyzed! And now when every nationalist is talking about further dividing the land, I’m reminded of the map of Pakistan that CIA released. The map which is moth eaten. And I wonder if all it’s been planned ahead by international agencies…

And I’m still thinking…

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Pained…

Shoaib : It’s the society that has made the whole atmosphere so tense. PPP does not have a strong hold in these areas so there won’t be any trouble here.

Me : I know.  But people are anxious to go home. It’s not like May 12th. Most of them are returning from offices and want to be home before anything happens.

We had a dawat at our place and maids were staying late to help us out when the news of the assassination of Benazir came. Our maids panicked and wanted to be home. So me and my brother went to drop them off. When my brother started the car, there wasn’t much gas in it and he told me that if we get stuck in a traffic jam, chances are that the gas will be used up.

So, we dropped our maid then decided to take the second route home. As there was a huge traffic jam on the shortest route home. Well, as we went for the second one, there were buses burning there and the road was blocked. So we decided to take another way home and again there was a traffic jam there. So we went for the fourth option. There was a bit of traffic jam, so my brother took the car on the service road and went ahead. The main road was blocked but we made a bit farther than the point where there was a traffic jam but the electric pole had been blocking the road there. So he made a U-turn, but as soon as we reached the point where there was a blockade on main road and the traffic was standing still , few guys came with sticks and stones in their hands and started breaking the windscreens and the windows of the car irrespective of the fact that there were people sitting inside. As we were on the service lane, we were not under the direct fire. My brother actually put his foot on the accelerator, and off we went. People coming from the other side, even their windscreens were cracked or broken. We got out from there and decided to go to our grandma’s.

My uncles managed to go home after two nights spending with us. Their kids were with them but the younger ones wanted their mum and they couldn’t go. Someone died in our neighbourhood, the dead-body was kept in the morgue and was buried two nights later. Just wonder how many people wanted to go to the hospital for emergencies. Without petrol or gas, how they must have suffered. How they must have seen their hard earned money being burned in a few seconds.

The whole city was burnt down, and no one was there to stop them. The government wasn’t allowing army to come in and take control. Let the common man suffer and let us torture them to death.

The burning and stoning and people looting banks and shops, most of them were not even the supporters of PPP. They just took advantage of the whole situation.

Or maybe I can come up with a better interpretation…

Were all these people being pushed by external forces and were waiting for one thing that can give them an opportunity to come spread terror?! Were they following some international agenda? or some national agenda?! The economic situation… the Israel’s PM calling… the Security Council calling a meeting… the list goes on. There’s more to the whole issue than just one assassination. The people who are anguished or are shocked do not have a free ticket to harm everyone’s property. It’s May 12th Revised and relaunched with better tactics, killing and destroying public property and paralysing the life of the city. Me and my brother were proved wrong when we thought that things wont go bad in the entire city but just some parts of it.

Though I pray for my country and my Ummah with all my heart and that’s the only thing that gives me hope. There’s the darkness of sin and ignorance everywhere.  

Religion, Culture and Literature…

I smsed my brother asking if he has “The Prince” and he replied in affirmation. I texted back saying,”I’ll be highly obliged if you can bring it”. He later commented that my “highly obliged” reflected the mentality of a slave. And I replied, “As if taking a degree in English is not a reflection enough !”

A few weeks back, a cousin of mine was asking about some symbol on orkut and her brother tried to show that he doesn’t know. And as I was standing nearby I shouted out that word loud and clear. And her brother looked at me, shocked, and then told her sister, ” that’s why I didn’t say it!” The word is commonly used but has vulgar connotations. And with this the realisation dawned upon me that I’m getting accustomed to all those words which are not a part of my culture. In the book Doing English, the author has clearly stated that with every word of a foreign language comes the whole cultural package. And with this the fear took over me. Am I falling through the bottomless pit of a foreign culture?! From then onwards I became conscious of every word that I use and am trying still to shun every word that does not reflect decency.

But how many of us actually realise that?! Last year while attending one of the presentations of the research group in our department, the professor said that not every word can be translated. In Arabic we use words which have no direct one word in English or any other language. It’s true for Urdu and other languages. And this is true for English as well. The words become terminologies! Once attending the lecture of philosophy, a professor said that we should avoid using words like “enlightenment” and “modern” because these are not words with simple meanings, for Occidentals these are terminologies that have derived from their history and culture. These words date back from the 16th and 17th Centuries, the age that Europe called The Age of Enlightenment. The shift from homo-centric to the ego-centric culture, when man became more important. And these all are not part of our culture.

In Notes Towards the definition of Culture, T.S. Eliot says that Europe’s culture is deeply seated in the religious history of Europe. The literature of Europe has it’s roots so deep in Christianity that even now when some of them reject every religion, their every action is Christian. And Muhammad Asad in his book The Road to Makkah says that he has come to the theory that the European prejudice and hatred towards Islam and Muslims is dated as back as the first Crusades! So it’s deep rooted in their hearts, and is instilled in their genes and they cannot detach it from themselves. It has become part of their culture. And it was T.S.Eliot who said that Culture is derived from religion and faith (with it or the lack of it). And as writers cannot write in a vacuum, and they incorporate their genes into the whole experience of writing, we see the reflection of their beliefs, culture and thoughts. So, when I am reading Chaucer, Spenser, Shakespeare, Dickens, Bronte or James, I am actually exposing myself to their culture and beliefs. I remember a friend saying that it seems as if we know more than the average European about their sects and religion and history. It’s incorporated in their literature.

Now the effect of literature upon our lives: The first ever department of English was established in the colony of Subcontinent. The English believed that literature would incorporate certain values in the Indians without them realising it. And this would help them make better slaves. And they would not realise the religious moulding through literature. So, literature became a tool of making us more “civilized” in the eyes of West to serve their own purposes. Literature, if read passively, works subtely yet moves your insides violently. Your mind may accept things subconsciously or unconciously and may effect your whole way of thinking. And I realised that you need to be active when reading literature, alert all the time, in order to keep their beliefs and metaphysics at bay.

The recent writers of Pakistan, who chose English to be their medium of communicating their ideas, do not reflect the embedded culture of the East. And when I’m talking about Muslim writers, I’m talking about the culture of Islam. The writers have not only chosen English but they have incorporated the ideas of Europe, their culture in those writings reflecting their own “slave-ish mentality”.  The embedded idea in our minds that doing English, eating with forks and spoons and sitting on a dining table reflects the marks of civilization, without realising that in our culture, eating with your hands and sitting on the floor are the marks of being “civilized”.

It’s high time for us to realise that our culture, literature and everything else have a center, and that center is Islam. And the unification in things come from that one center. We may be able to intitutionalise every “branch” of knowledge, but the cente would allow a Muslim to see things in totality and not in fractions. And we see all that in the works of Muslim poets from Rumi to Iqbal. So, even if we are to read the Western authors, we need to counter that effect by reading our own literature in the languages of the East, mainly Urdu, Arabic or Persian. It’s high time to stand facing the current and yet not loose our grounds. And we can only do that by standing in our own cultural grounds and not borrowed ones. We have far more better examples than those of Aristotle, Plato and Socrates.

Maintaining the Standards

I stopped reading the papers after huge incidences that happened after Eid-ul-Fitr and the great Emergency. I guess I was trying to shut out the ramblings of the politicians and the army-men. Anyway, during my exams while I was having breakfast one fine Monday morning and was not in the mood of studying, I took up the newspaper wondering if something “interesting” was there. And to my surprise the whole newspaper had changed.

I took up Dawn’s Sunday Magazine because it was supposed to be the best part about the newspaper. But articles by Farid Paracha, the Swot articles and not to mention Aunty Agni thing shoved me to an early grave. I was appalled, flabbergasted and highly offended. What are these articles trying to imply?! OR better… What are these articles trying to propagate?!

I remember reading F.R. Leavis’ essay for the exam. The essay suggested that the literature and newspapers have sub-standardised in order to meet the mass civilisation’s demands rather keeping it’s standards for the few who actually have a good taste and higher intellect. So, the so-called elite or rather the western-ised minds of Pakistan has taken its lead in the same thing. Now they’re writing what they think is “light”,”interesting” and “funny” not realising that they are giving the youth a direction that would lead this country into chaos. We don’t want writers who can lull us to sleep. We don’t want writers who think “enjoying” life should be everything. We need writers like Naseem Hijazi, who can shake us up, who can wake us up from the deep slumber.

The English Speaking Class of Pakistan, which believes in the superiority of the Western Civilization and thought, have forgotten their own roots. English might be the need of time, but to rip ourselves from our own language, culture and roots have driven us into the labyrinth without a sense of direction. It’s a life where you follow the shadows, where you run after the crowd who are in the same state of hopelessness.

So, back to where I was. The Dawn newspaper has lost its vigour, life and decency. I’m not saying that I’ve a better taste. All I’m trying to say is we are a better nation. And we can do so much more than immitating the West in the most degraded things. We have better examples like Iqbal and Faiz. We need to set our standards high and help our mass civilisation to come upto that standard not the otherway round. The writers have a huge responsibilty and they should take the lead of guiding people in a better direction. This is the need of our times.

Exams khatam

Remember in Braveheart, when William Wallace is tortured in the end. And instead of “mercy” shouts out loud, ” FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEDDDDDDDDDDDDDOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMM”.

The exams were a torture and yes, we’re FREEEE now!

I passed my first exam unscathed! *faints*

The font size has changed automatically, and I have no idea how to set it right. Anyway, my mum has lined up a bunch of chores for me calling it “the season/eid” safai. Always remember, with freedom comes great resposibilities!!!