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Bookworms United

“Here’s the abandoned one, the left-out one, the one who must tell the story. He now goes down to check, to rummage through the pieces of those who left. He’s the only one now.”

Please ignore everything you’re doing at the moment, let the books on your side table gather dust and instead read Mirza Waheed’s novel The Collaborator. Waheed’s brilliant debut novel is not just a fictional tale of a boy who lives in Kashmir, and the death of his childhood, the disappearance of his friends, or the end of life as he knows it; it is a heartbreaking tale of the death of Kashmir. Reading The Collaborator has been one of the most painful experiences of my life. With every chapter, I’d have to stop and take a break, because I couldn’t take the grief anymore that hits the reader with every word of this book. At the risk of sounding like a wimp, I cried buckets of tears when I finished reading the novel, tears shed not just for the characters, albeit fictional, but for the generations of Kashmiris that have lived through decades of violence, with no end in sight.

You can buy The Collaborator on Amazon or at The Last Word if you’re in Karachi, Lahore or Islamabad.

I haven’t blogged in a while and will get around to it soon, but in the meantime, here’s an extract from A.L. Kennedy’s short story What Becomes:

No one ever helps. I just stay at home and the light bulbs die and the ceilings crack and everything electrical is not exactly as it should be – there are many faults – and I call the helplines and they don’t, I call all kinds of people and they don’t help, I spend hours on the phone and I get no answers that have any meaning, I get no sense – there are constantly these things going wrong, incessantly, every day, and I want to stop them and I could stop them but no one helps and I cant manage on my own.

Patras Bokhari, in his essay “Akhbar Mein Zaroorat Hai”.

ہمارے اخبار میں پروپرائٹر کا احترام سب سے مقدم ہے وہ شہر کے ایک معزز ڈپو ہولڈر ہیں اخبار انہوں نے محض خدمتِ خلق اور رفاہ عام کے لئے جاری کیا ہے اس لئے یہ ضروری ہے کہ پبلک ان کی شخصیت اور مشاغل سے ہر وقت باخبر رہے چنانچہ ان کے پوتے کا ختنہ، ان کے ماموں کا انتقال ان کے صاحبزادے کی میٹریکولیشن میں حیرت انگیز کامیاب (حیرت انگیز اس معنوں میں کہ پہلے ہی ریلے میں پاس ہوگئے)ایسے واقعات سے پبلک کو مطلع کرنا ہر سب ایڈیٹر کا فرض ہوگا نیز ہر اس پریس کانفرنس میں جہاں خوردونوش کا انتظام بھی ہو ہمارے پروپرائٹر مع اپنے دو چھوٹے بچوں کے جن میں سے لڑکے کی عمر سال اور لڑکی کی پانچ سال ہے شریک ہوں گے اور بچے فوٹو میں بھی شامل ہوں گے اور اس پر کسی سب ایڈیٹر کو لب فقرے کسنے کی اجازت نہ ہوگی ہر بچے بہت ہی ہونہار ہیں اور حالات میں غیر معمولی دلچسپی لیتے ہیں کشمیر کے متعلق پریس کانفرنس ہوئی تو چھوٹی بچی ہندوستانیوں کی ریشہ دوانیوں کا حال سن کر اتنے زور سے روئی کہ خود سردار ابراہیم اسے گود میں لئے لئے پھرتے تو کہیں اس کی طبیعت سنبھلی۔

You can read the entire essay here. Thanks to the sister for buying Kuliyat-e-Patras at the bazar today.

P.S.: This is exactly how some newsrooms function in Pakistan.

Am reading Suketu Mehta’s Maximum City at the moment, and a 100 pages in, it is a fascinating read. Will write in detail when I’m done with the book, but one passage in particular reminded me of riots in Karachi.

On the Shiv Sena attacking the BCCI office in Bombay:

“The vandals are young men, who, after working twelve-hour days as peons in some office where they endure humiliation and even a slap or two from men who are richer and less Maharashtrian than they are, take the train home. Inside the train, they bathe in perspiration; the air is fetid with sweat and farts. When they get home to the slum, their mothers and their fathers and their grandmothers will ask them what income they have brought home. Such a man lives with a constant sense of his own powerlessness, except when he is part of a mob, part of a contingent of seventy patriots fighting for the country’s honor, walking unmolested into movie theaters, posh apartments, and the offices of the cricket lords of the country, smashing trophies, beating up important people who drive fine cars. All the accumulated insults, rebukes and disappointments of life in a decaying megalopolis come out in a cathartic release of anger. It’s okay to be angry in a crowd; the crowd feeds on your anger, digests it, nourishes your rage as your rage nourishes it. All of a sudden you feel powerful. You can take on anybody. It is not their city anymore, it is your city.
You own this city by right of your anger. “

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