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Ayesha Jalal: Writers brought out horrors of Partition more than historians

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Jaipur: Ayesha Jalal, Pakistani- American historian said writers like Saadat Hasan Manto brought horrors of Partition more than historians but the time has to come to look towards the resurrection process and leave behind the horrors of history.

“Manto’s short stories can embellish history but fiction cannot replace history,” she said at a session titled “The Pity of Partition: Manto’s Life, Times and Work Across the India-Pakistan Divide” (the title of her 2013 biography on her granduncle) at the Jaipur Literature Festival here on Saturday.

She maintained Manto’s legacy survives and is more relevant now because of his type of thinking, of his approach which was to question everything.

“People don’t think, they go with perceived wisdom. He questioned it, raised uncomfortable issues especially of human bestiality in his stories of Partition,” she said.

On Manto becoming a bone of contention in the subcontinent amidst the tide of “intolerance”, Jalal said there was always some intolerance here but now it was growing throughout the world, but a writer like Manto is often invoked by the youth as a form of protest.

She also noted that if intolerance is growing, so is the opposition to it.

But like interest in his works in India, there was also a lot of interest in Pakistan, she said but added that this was not any form of competition. “Celebrate it and him in your way,” she said.

On how she came to write his biography, Jalal said it was his centenary, there were accounts by some of his close friends, which are insightful but her 2013 work also has memories of his family, which did not see him very positively and for good reason.

“There were many troubles he caused, he left his family destitute, and his alcoholism was seen most negatively,” she said.

She confessed she had herself fallen under his spell quite early having heard his stories from her cousins and others and “could recite the doggerel used by the mental patient in ‘Toba Tek Singh’ even before she could recite the kalma”.

And then, she had come across letters to Manto from his mother and others, which formed an archive. She noted he seemed to have a sense of history for when he left the then Bombay for Pakistan, he had taken all his letters along.

But above all, her rationale was that the “microcosm of Manto’s life connects to the macrocosm of the Partition” for he was one of its most celebrated victims.

“Manto was non-political, writing film scripts in Bombay, was not a Muslim League supporter though being anti-colonial and for him, the ‘batwara’ was not necessary. Bombay gave him a sense of himself. Partition, in a sense, made Manto, but it also destroyed him,” said Jalal.

She said that while, in Bombay, he had close friends like actors Ashok Kumar and Shyam, and there was no Hindu-Muslim feeling in him, and he in fact made fun of it, like in his story “Dhobi” which was a real incident, though partly fictionalized.

“He had no enthusiasm in going to Pakistan, there were no complicated political reasons but there were family reasons. His wife went to Lahore where her family was and didn’t want to come back, so he also moved despite pleas by friends like Ashok Kumar and Shyam to return.

“But Pakistan never proved conducive to Manto. He had an ambiguous relationship with the authorities, quickly became disillusioned, turned to drinking more, and the lack of recognition killed him,” she said, adding that while he had been a heavy drinker in Delhi and Bombay, he became an alcoholic there, though he never wrote under the influence of drink.(IANS)(image: tribune.com.pk)

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NRIs Cheered for PM Modi

He profusely praised Prime Minister Modi for his all-round developmental plans and policies

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Indian, Diaspora, PM
The US President Donald Trump himself flew in to jazz up the occasion.

BY SALIL GEWALI

Americans’ love for the Indians and Indians’ love for America was fully on display at Howdy Modi’s event in Houston last Sunday. The US President Donald Trump himself flew in to jazz up the occasion. He profusely praised Prime Minister Modi for his all-round developmental plans and policies. He further widened PM Modi’s chest by calling him a fatherly figure of India, and also a crowd puller like Elvis Presley. President Trump very well knows how to talk shop. However, Trump sincerely hopes that the event will help strengthen the relation of the two nations, and much more than ever before. PM.

A huge crowd of 50 thousand roaring and cheering for Modi is something which President Trump thought his “presence” would top up the Howdy Modi’s cake which will equally nourish both. Not surprisingly, Modi began his speech by saying — “I have the honour to introduce you to my family”, pointedly aiming at the entire leaders and influential capitalists in the USA who employ the “cream” of the entire Indian population. On the other hand, President Trump clearly expressed his “pride” having the core “strength of Indian” in America. PM Modi is seemingly looking to exploit India’s strength in America and build new India in every possible way. This is probably his new dream. The passion of event pitched up so high that euphoric Modi impulsively yelled – “Abki Baar Trump Sarkar”. This must have caused heartburn to many people, and more to those running for the 2020 Presidential election.

Indian, Diaspora, PM
Americans’ love for the Indians and Indians’ love for America was fully on display at Howdy Modi’s event in Houston last Sunday.

To organize an event of this magnitude involves a lot of managerial skills and concerted efforts. Everything came off perfectly well in Houston — undoubtedly, due to the synergies of the efforts of dedicated NRIs and a huge amount of monetary contributions that generous diaspora had pitched in. What is very obvious is the people were emotionally involved to make the event grand, some were tied down for the past three months. Here why people love PM Modi so much is, in fact, no small thing though we just pass off – no matter which political party he belongs to. One believes he is the only leader who receives such kind of welcome and hospitality wherever he visits. This in fact should make other world leaders think seriously why Modi is so much idolized by the masses. Whether it has logical basis or not. No exaggeration, what it all that attracts people to him is something to be made a case study. If nothing, Modi’s simplicity, his inborn humility, uprightness, and incorruptible aptitudes must be the prime reasons that fascinate the right-thinking people.

Also Read- Chinese Satellite Searches for Invisible Dark Matter but also Explores Origin of Cosmic Rays

Here what really surprises us is that the man with righteous principle and integrity also has a huge number of sworn enemies. Those enemies are totally blind and deaf to Modi’s virtues. No amount of Modi’s sacrifices for the country make them happy and appreciative. They hold forth thousands of faults in Modi while never hesitating to appreciate and stand for the corruptible oddballs as their leaders. They also tend to look upon those unscrupulous persons for their inspiration — maybe for knowledge and moral too, lol! This is nothing but the sickness of this civilization. One sees this as one of the worst maladies of modern times.

Salil Gewali is a well-known writer and author of ‘Great minds on India’. Twitter: @SGewali