One's personality is both a composition and reflection, but if I have to choose one of them, I will choose reflection as the "self" is more important to me than "me". One's composition may change, walking across the cultural landscapes and climbing the social ladder but one's self is tied to one's reflections. The fun part is that reflections are not bound to "Time-Space" barriers ( it is not time-space) and respective mental constructs, which have grown so thick over ages, that they had reduced the image of humans to Sisyphus, rolling different sizes of boulders on hills of different heights.… As the name of this Blog indicates, knols are my perspectives on topics of interests, sweet/bitter experiences or just doodling :)

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Saadat Hassan Manto’s Oxygen for Pakistan

What commonly known about him is that he was 35 years older than Pakistan, wrote neutrally about India-Pakistan partition and had freaked out the “nobles” with his “filthy” works like کھول دو    ;Open it - and       ٹھنڈا گوشت   ;Cold Meat – and died at age of 42 suffering from Cirrhosis and poverty. His often quoted reply to his critic, “If you cannot bear these stories then the society is unbearable. Who am I to remove the clothes of this society, which itself is naked. I don't even try to cover it, because it is not my job, that's the job of dressmakers.”…

Frankly, I am not in a position to write about Saadat Hassan Manto because I am not familiar with all of his works. As a coincidence, I read some of the Manto’s stories when I was reading Khalil Gibran’s works and I found them very close to each other in the sense  that both were detached from their birthplaces, lived in poverty, somewhat tried to demystify the human characters but were very slow in their descriptions of their experiences (at least in stories that I read… and it is just my personal judgments and my judgments might be very partial ) and all these things cumulatively made me not to follow their works anymore. I feel that the main reason for my decision was that at those times, I was feeling a big gap in human achievements regarding human mind and other sciences. To me, mankind had failed to understand themselves in systematic manners as they have understood and organized their knowledge of Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Economics, History and Social Sciences. The absence of a systematic understanding of human’s behaviors in general and human mind specifically have kept the doors of mystery still open. The patchy insights scattered through works of writers with good observations were leaving me with a choice to go after writers with more direct, simple but condensed observations. I didn’t have the patience to skim through thick piles of works to get some insights. So I was skipping writers with prolific use of words but with less condensed insights. Hassan Manto and Khalil Gibran were falling in this category for me…

OK, if I had not developed an interest in reading Manot then why am I describing him now?

People are rediscovering Manto

Two weeks ago, I was with my other classmates in the microscopy room to observe live anaerobic bacteria that we had cultured over almost in a month in the tubes with headspace of nitrogen to avoid oxygen exposures. Oxygen is poisonous to anaerobes. After placing a drop of culture on slide, we were observing the anaerobic bacteria freaking out by exposure to oxygen and were running randomly here and there. Observing this on the large screen, it was first time I was feeling sorry for those bacteria and meanwhile revisiting my perspective about the discoverer of Penicillin (weapon of mass destruction for bacteria)…

Pakistan soon after independence intentionally moved towards making the Pakistani society anaerobic (conservative) and writers like Saadat Hassan Manto, whose stories were making holes in this bubble were freaking out those who were considering oxygen (a direct and demystified observations) toxic for society in general. Now, that society have totally run out of oxygen and people are suffocating… there are some strong desires to make some oxygen available. But oxygen is already so scarce.

Saadat Hassan Manto died on spring of 1955 just when Pakistan was only 8 years old. This year (2012), Hassan Manto has become 100 years old and Pakistan has become 65 years old. It is no surprise that, why Pakistan has failed to produce another Hassan Manto in more than half a century after his death? The answer is simple. In a society that “self-deception” is more than welcomed and contradictions are rationalized under name of honor and loyalty, one can’t expect the blossom of healthy and courageous minds. Manto was able to observe and write in the earlier days, when Pakistani society still had the spirit and openness of British India but that unfortunately didn’t last long.

I see mushrooming of articles, audio and video reports in English newspapers and on BBC Urdu and I understand the strong desire for come back of Manto but the chances look bleak unless the present bubble of “self-deception” bursts and people once again breathe in an open atmosphere…  

                                      BBC Urdu celebrates Manto's 100 birthDay 

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