Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Oscar for Pakistan. What now?

Ms. Chinoy's Oscar win is a cause for great jubilation. She has shown the world that there is more to Pakistan than drone attacks, terrorists and corruption. This award, unfortunately,will not solve any of our problems but it has, temporarily, given us hope that all is not lost. 

Will this win, which is a source of inspiration for us all, bring any positive change in our country, in us?  Will there be any funds made available for film makers who don't have the monetary means but possess the talent? The Prime Minister has announced the highest civil award for Ms. Chinoy, but what of the victims? Above all, what of the law which lets the men go around free while the women suffer forever more?  

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Happy 200th Birthday Mr. Dickens!

The first Dickens’ book I read, at age nine, was an abridged version of Oliver Twist. Oliver’s tragic story was probably my first exposure to tragedy in literature. I cried tears of joy when everything fell into place for little Oliver and all was well in the end. All was not well for my younger brother though; whenever he complained about food I put forth the example of the poor orphan boy who was denied a second helping of an excuse-for-a-soup. My brother never read Oliver Twist.

Reading David Copperfield was easier and a little less emotional although I remember being immensely saddened by his wife Dora’s death. I still remember the illustration of David carrying his feeble wife up the staircase, she being too weak to climb. I was mortified by her death, blamed Agnus for it and didn’t re-read the book till much later.

But it was Great Expectations’ Miss Havisham who fascinated me the most and made me a Dickens’ fan. Estella’s beauty and her mannerisms affected my young mind and I tried to be like her (maybe still am). Both Miss Havisham and Estella were unlike women I had read of in literature (which at nine years old was limited to Enid Blyton and Nancy Drew) or knew of in real life, minus a few exceptions of course. Unlike Oliver and David, I wasn’t rooting for Pip and this feeling for him hasn’t changed still.

Even though Bleak House is the one Dickens’ novel I like best, it was Dombey and Son which almost made me a thief. It was lying on the bottom shelf of a library in Pindi when I first discovered and issued it. A hard cover, un-abridged version with the original illustrations on the most silky smooth paper; it was love at first sight. I read it five times just to check if anyone else besides me got it issued. Oh, if only I had hidden that book under my shawl on that cold December morning! I know, deep down, that if I pay a visit to that library even now, I shall find the book issued only five times. Okay, that sounds a bit filmi but yes, if I go there now, I’ll definitely steal it. Theft detectors and conscious can go to hell!

I plan to re-read all his books this year and maybe, just maybe, I might discover the secret which makes his writing relevant to readers around the globe even now, 200 years on. 

Coming soon: Dickens' on the beanbag