Events

Monday, October 17, 2011

Adhe adhoore Khawab: A Review by Sonia Farooq


Sonia Farooq
Lecturer, Department of English, International Islamic University

Adhe Adhoore Khawab, is a dazzling critique of educational practices in Pakistan.  It distinguishes itself from contemporary Urdu fiction in terms of its content, diction, and style.  The story is about the journey of a devote teacher, Saharan Roy, who is selfless and gallant and puts his heart and soul to see his dreams fulfilled. His dreams are the dreams of those many individuals of our society who comprehend the potential of our youth and take a stand against the injustices of society. The story is an inspiration to young teachers to bring a change not only in society but in them by trusting in a critical and creative approach. The dreams of this man who realizes his responsibility as a teacher, friend, guide and reformer are bright but would lose their shine if not fulfilled and all he can foresee is darkness of life in the world of hollow men.
The story is an inspiration to young teachers to bring a change not only in society but in them by trusting in a critical and creative approach.
The novel proves to be a fine attack on dehumanizing aspects in education. Mechanization of education is one important thought behind the story and the struggle of Professor Ray stirs up the intellectuals and those related to educational and other social institutions to move towards an educational and social change and reform.
Since the need for pedagogical strategies for the development of creativity and critical consciousness are important themes of the story, the novel is incredible in pointing out the “perfect dead skeleton” that is the true emblem of our society. Arousing the dead skeleton and bringing it to its real perfection is the aim of the novel. So the novel turns out to be a critique on degradation of creativity in our educational system and it alerts the reader about the commodification and dreadful conditions of our educational institutions. The writer has skillfully given the example of teaching by explaining the art of pottery. It suggests creative thinking as a way to bring a change in our existing teaching methods by grooming our classroom through creative approach keeping in mind our cultural and socio-economic constraints.

The story of a much-loved teacher is devotedly narrated by his students Tassavur who had been taught by him and Imtisaal Agha who knew him from others before she actually met him. The story also focuses on the beautiful bond of a teacher and a student which our present society fails to develop while the professor thinks,
 “Yeh rishtay bhi kese rishtay hen. Jahan humkhayali, mohabbat, aqeedat aur dosti ki bunyaad banti hai aur manzilon ka ishtaraak humein rafaqat ki lari mein piro deta hai.”

Within the story we find the character of Imtisaal Agha reading Bronte’s Wuthering Heights and the character of Heathcliff sounds different to her. Who had known that a man loved by so many around would become her Heathcliff in life to whom she would be Catherine; an emotional support? This makes the novel a beautiful composition of light romance which is pure at the same time. The saga of emotional attachment of the main characters Saharan Ray and Imtisaal Agha has been woven nicely through snippets of little incidents of relatively short time. “The Celestine Prophecy” that has brought the two characters together is marvelously presented in the story unlike most contemporary works of literature where artificiality, glamour and extravagance of appearance and passions are highlighted.
The imagery of darkness and then footsteps of Imtisaal are very emblematic and meaningful for she is the one who is meant to break the darkness and dead silence all around through her self confidence. She who understands the unjust social stratification of society and the deep relationship between ideology and education can change the hearts and minds of those who are in a state of oblivion and disenchanted with life as in one of her discussions with Prof. Roy she says:

“Mujhe bhi taleem ke critical pehlu se dilchaspi hai. Ek esi taleem jo neutral aur passive na ho balkay mua’shray ke dil mein dharak rahi ho.”
Professor Rai then says, “Taleem aur ideology ka aapas mein gehra ta’luq ha. Taleem ek qaum ko sula bhi sakti hai aur bedaar bhi ker skti hai. Ye mua’shray ki samaaji aur mua’shi tafreeq ko berha bhi skti hai aur kum kernay mein mua’ven bhi saabit ho skti hai.”
Thus, the novel raises issues for all those educationalists and members of the young generation who are being manipulated by ideology.

The fast pace of the novel forms a contrast with the calm mood of the main characters. The calm and pleasant tone of Professor Roy is beautifully present throughout the novel. The contrast is strikingly meaningful and echoes Emily Dickenson’s Because I Could Not Stop for Death as the protagonist has “promises to keep” before he goes to sleep. The colours and ideas are skillfully woven on the fabric of the story. The story is also a reminder to those individuals who in a rush of mechanic life have brought decline to the beautiful realities of life. This brings into my memory Leisure by Davies read long ago. He reflects this quandary as:

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

Colours and passions blended beautifully in this small piece of art weave beautiful and pure thoughts. This blend of imagery from the nature is magnificent. The relationship of ingredients of nature i.e. rain, wind, hillocks, mountains, greenery, streams, pastures, snow, flowers etc. with the soul of human being is skillfully pictured in the form of feelings and moods of the characters.
“Barishon ki awaz ki apni mosiqee hai jo apnay zor se ghatti berhti dil kay taaron ko chairty hai”.
This blend wonderfully integrates thought and realization which develops a kind of self confidence in the reader as s/he moves forward

“Khawahish apna raasta khud taraashti hai
Manzil apni raah ko khud janam deti hai
Aur tabeer apna khawab khud chunti hai”

Similarly the dialogues are deep and wrap up the readers into thinking; 
“Aasmaan se barf narm, be awaaz gaalon ki surat zameen me jazb ho rahi thi.
Mohabbat ke subuk jazbay ki tarhan jo khawhishon, khawabon aur nazarion ke jalo mein
hamaray rag o pae me utar jata hai
aur jab tak humein uski maujudgi ka ehsaas hota hai
Wo hamaray jism o jaan mein dur tak phael chuka hota hai.
Phir bahr ki ruton ka kesa he ulat phair ho
Andar ka mausam amr ho jata ha.”

So as a person related to modern and post-modern studies I am pleased to find the novel standing on its own merits. The novel is highly recommended for those who regret the shallowness and depthlessness in the works of arts and care for the betterment of themselves and society. Therefore, this story is not intended to satisfy the appetite of audience addicted to commercialized texts of mass entertainment because one of the most important features of the novel is that unlike contemporary Pakistani fiction this novel does not promote commodification of life and consumption of brands and use of any tag to define one’s social identity. The title Aadhay Adooray Khawab is also very significant that half of the dreams needed to be combined with the dreams of others and they are incomplete for dreams of others will get along with it and a beautiful galaxy of dreams will be there and each one will be sharing his with others. It will be a chain, a constellation of beautiful dreams that our next generation would be hoped to accomplish.

The reader might initially need to struggle with the social and political concepts but then they are so beautifully and simply discussed that the reader develops more interest in the book. The character of professor Roy is beautifully developed through the memories of his students and readers will learn a lot from the novel. The language is simple and as much cotemporary as it can be which gives the story a lively hit. The author has satisfactorily concluded the book as Roy shares his dreams with Imtisaal who is hoped to take them on. Thus the writer has maintained the element of hope by sharing his dreams with so many Imtisaal Aghas of our generation who will play their roles in the story by reading it and will take these dreams and fulfill them.

Title: Aadhay Adhooray Khawab
Author: Shahid Siddiqui
Publication: Jahangir Books, Lahore
Date: 2010
No. of Pages: 176

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Resistance and Education


by
Dr Shahid siddiqui
 The News, September 17, 2007

I am a man and all that affects mankind concerns me.
– Bhagat Singh
 
History of imperialism is ridden with treachery, guile, and coercion. To control the colonized, all possible methods are used ranging from persuasion to coercion. India, under the British rule, was no exception. The colonizers, in order to maintain their hegemony, suppressed the voices of dissent by using oppressive methods and imposing biased education and language policies. The politics of education and language can be seen at its best in the Minute by Lord Macaulay. It is important to analyse the vision of education proposed by a British representative for the colonized. Macaulay proposes: “We must at present do our best to form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern; a class of persons, Indians in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals, and intellect.” With this vision, a new education system came into being, which is still in vogue in Pakistan. The essential purpose of this system was to produce a class of obedient servants who would conform to authority and never think of challenging it.
 
This system of education was later found fit by the different rulers in Pakistan as it lacked the essence of critical thinking and questioning. The dominant groups in power prefer the status quo scenario as it always suits them. A change in status quo would mean a shift in power, which is not a palatable idea for them. Killing softly, the education system has managed to change the over all priorities of individuals. The ultimate aim of graduating students, now days, is to earn maximum money. What happens to the society, country, or their fellow human beings is none of their business. This education system has completely etherised the youth, whose whole educational activity has been confined to colleges and academies.
In Culture and Imperialism, Edward Said says that imperialism always found resistance in different parts of the world. The nature of resistance could be varied from place to place. One of the resistance symbols in India was Bhagat Singh. Bhagat Singh earned tremendous popularity as an activist who killed a British police officer, Mr Saunders, mistaking him for Scot who was responsible for the death of Lala Lagpat Roy’s death. Bhagat also dropped home-made bombs in the legislative assembly. He was hanged in 1930 when he was only 23 years old.
How could Bhagat escape the effects of Macaulay’s brand of education that aimed at producing tamed and timid Indians? What kind of learning helped him to challenge imperialism? What was it that gave him the commitment to shout ‘Inqilab Zindabad’ even when he was going to the gallows? Bhagat Singh was born in Lyallpur (presently known as Faisalabad), a city of Punjab on September 27, 1907. So September 2007 is his 100th birthday. He didn’t have to wait for school, for his education as a great source of learning was at home. His father and uncles were there to inculcate in him the flame of freedom, a flame that would lead him to his explosive role in the freedom movement.

How was Bhagat’s education different? Bhagat went to the DAV school and then National College in Lahore. It was here that Bhagat’s theoretical underpinnings were strengthened. The idea of National colleges was conceived by Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi knew the central role education can play to weave the mental texture of the Indian youth. It was here that young Bhagat met Professor Jai Chandra Vidyalankar who taught him history. Professor Jai fuelled Bhagat’s passion for the freedom of India. It was the clear vision of the National College and its committed teachers like Professor Jai that were responsible for inculcating the devotion and love for purpose in Bhagat.
Young Bhagat was fully immersed in the love for his country. His top priority in life was to rid his country from the colonisers. When his parents planned his marriage, he wrote to his father, “This is not the time for marriage. The country is calling me. I have taken oath to serve the country physically, mentally and monetarily (tan, man, dhan).” When his father insisted, Bhagat wrote another letter, “You are caring for Dadi (grand mother), but in how much trouble is our Mother of 33 crores, the Bharat Mata? We still have to sacrifice everything for her sake.”

It was not just learning from school, but learning from home, friends, and books that contributed in the formation of Bhagat’s personality. Bhagat Singh was an avid reader. His love for books continued until his death. He had a fine taste in poetry and Iqbal was his favourite poet. In his prison diary, he quoted a number of verses in English and Urdu. Even his last letter to his younger brother, Kultar, was studded with verses. I quote onr here: Meri hawa mein rahe gi khyal ki khushboo-ye mushte khak a fani rahe, rahe na rahe (The fragrance of my thought will remain forever, even after this mortal body gets perished).
At a very young age, Bhagat started writing articles. These articles were on serious topics and showed a mature stance of the writer. He was not just an emotional person, rather his life was driven by the force of informed ideology in which he had unwavering faith. The essence of education is its ability to change and the journey of change is continuous and life long. In one of his articles, Why I am an atheist, he talks about the value of continuous study, “Study was the cry that reverberated in the corridor of my mind. Study to enable yourself to face the arguments advanced by opposition. Study to arm yourself with arguments in favour of your cult. I began to study and my previous faith and convictions underwent a remarkable modification.”
This is the kind of education that has its link with emancipation, freedom, and change that leads an individual to reflect and act, that not only takes care of academic skills, but also introduces an individual to the larger scenario of society and its problems, that broadens the horizons of the learner from narrow self interests to broader social obligations. It is this political nature of education that prepares individuals to challenge the forces of injustice and coercion. The kind of cold, and calculated education that is in vogue these days may lead the learners to get good jobs and serve their own interest, but it is incapable of producing people like Bhagat Singh. In his jail diary, he wrote his favourite quotes and verses. Theses quotes reflect his choice and personality. Here is one quote found on page 43 of his jail diary. “The tree of liberty must be refreshed with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.” In 1930, when he was only 23, Bhagat gave his fresh blood to nurture the plant of liberty. He couldn’t see a free country, but he will always be remembered by those who sit under the shade of the tree of liberty.

The writer is a Professor and Director of Centre for Humanities & Social Sciences at Lahore School of Economics. Email:shahidksiddiqui@yahoo.com