A riddle of binaries | Literati

A riddle of binaries

ulian Columeau is French by delivery, a vagabond by likelihood and an Urdu author by selection. Decisions are normally taken as a springboard for our need to reside a free, impartial, out-of-the-box life. However finally, virtually all decisions flip into an act of mapping and traversing socio-politico-cultural limits and latitudes, slightly than chopping throughout them. So, Columeau’s decisions of turning into an itinerant particular person and an Urdu author appear to have been spurred by his explorative and quasi-nomadic spirit the French and the trendy Western tradition are infused with and which accounts for the “mix of data and energy” that every trendy Western society is characterised with. Columeau’s peripatetic yearnings are pegged to the exploring-knowing trendy Western spirit. Apart from French and English, he learnt Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi and Bengali – clearly to discover and know South Asia in step with his precursor Orientalists. Columeau’s PhD dissertation on Pakistani Punjabi literature additionally testifies to his scholarly curiosity in exploring the area’s historical past, politics and tradition. Nevertheless, what he has introduced out because of his explorative endeavours is Urdu fiction. Which means he has employed each mental and imaginative schools to go deep into the cultural-psychical-existential realms of our area. Following Orientalists, Columeau has an curiosity in realizing the folks and tradition of ‘different areas’ via archives and paperwork. His fiction is not only a mix of mind and creativeness, but additionally an amalgamation of archival info and fantasy. He has primarily based most of his tales on the lives of Urdu writers and artists like Saghar Siddiqui, Meeraji, Mohsin Naqvi, Intezar Hussain, Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and others. Information about their lives, endeavours, achievements and their dominant instincts have been fastidiously researched after which fictionalised. In fictionalising the info about writers’ lives, Columeau consciously or unconsciously resorts to the trendy Western gaze that entails a fancy set of binaries and hierarchies.

One can discern this advanced set of binaries and hierarchies operating via 5 out of the seven tales, the ebook Dareeda Haraamda Aur Doosari Kahanian (Derrida, the bastard and different tales) accommodates. From selecting the theme of the tales to entwining the future of native characters to that of Western protagonists, we discover hierarchical binaries in place. Can it’s a coincidence that in every of the 5 tales, the West involves be subtly juxtaposed with the non-West? In Dareeda Haraamda, the titular story, as an illustration, Sheikhupura-based trainer of philosophy, Sheeda’s future is inextricably intertwined with Paris-based thinker Jacques Derrida. The second story, Mutarjima (Translator) payments Faiz Ahmad Faiz because the protagonist, but the portrayal of his particular person, doings and poetic endeavours completely hinge upon the preferences of the narrator of the story who occurs to be his Russian translator, a white lady. Whereas the title of the third story, Manhoos Angraiz (The Cursed Englishman), appears to counsel that some English man is slated as a cursed white man, the narrator, a pupil of positive arts, discovers that that the white man leaves no stone unturned to lambast Pakistani folks.

The fourth story within the ebook narrates how Feroz Iqbal, a London-based Pakistani musician plagiarises the Russian composer Alexander Scriabin’s oratorio Mysterium which Scriabin couldn’t full in his life. Early within the story, Feroz Iqbal fails to create one thing unique just like the oratorio of Heer Ranjha and is portrayed as incapable of even finishing an unfinished challenge of a European oratorio. He lacks originality and ingenuity. He’s so bold that he unabashedly rips off a composition by a younger European visiting northern Pakistan to search for a sufi.

Within the fifth story (translated from the Punjabi by Shahid Shaidai), the protagonist, Qari Zafar, is as a serial killer of prostitutes and westernised girls. Right here the notorious binaries of faith and secularism and Islam and West have been introduced into play. The story exhibits Islamists as not solely hating Western symbols and westernised folks but additionally making an attempt to remove them with a spiritual zeal. Qari Zafar calls himself a soldier in God’s military.

He has primarily based most of his tales on the lives of Urdu writers and artists like Saghar Siddiqui, Meeraji, Mohsin Naqvi, Intezar Hussain, Faiz Ahmad Faiz and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. 

This reviewer believes that there’s nothing incorrect in juxtaposing one thing brilliant with one thing darkish in fiction. Additionally, a terrific a part of one of the best fiction has been created out of the battle between two opposing forces. However the juxtaposition, Columeau’s tales lack conflictual conditions. Battle is performed out when an opposing drive unflinchingly challenges its counterpart’s precise political or ethical authority and seeks to subvert it. In Columeau’s tales, native characters are portrayed as both too passive and ineligible to controvert white folks’s hubris (Manhoos Angariz), or their epistemological energy (Dareeda Haramda) or have harboured indecisive, ambivalent attitudes in the direction of the West and its modernity, or are proven finishing up violence towards their very own folks (Qari Zafar). Fiction doesn’t require a battle to be staged externally; it may be at some deep down psychological aircraft and nonetheless rip via a personality’s existence. Columeau’s tales don’t a lot discover the internal psychic areas of his characters. In some locations, the native characters seem like fairly non-reflective folks.

Dareeda Haramada’s Shahid alias Sheeda first indulges in philosophy after which falls in love with Jacques Derrida, one of many stalwarts of 20th Century French philosophy. After a wrangle with a spiritual clique amongst college college students, Sheeda’s life is at stake. Although an enormous landholder, legislator and influential particular person, his father yields to the risk from the spiritual fanatics and means that he depart the nation. Sheeda chooses to go to Paris the place Derrida is about to provide a sequence of seminars. The necessary factor to notice is that, for Sheeda, Derrida is not only a thinker however a murshid, a revered and cherished particular person. Sheeda is extra intent thus on displaying reverence for Derrida’s particular person than reflecting on his philosophical concepts. Derrida’s logocentrism, deconstruction, aporia, differance and so forth get a scant point out and are largely saved outdoors Sheeda’s psychological world. Derrida was a critic of logo-centrism that privileges speech over writing and bestows all energy to the speaker and writer within the strategy of formation of which means. So, the notion of murshid, a transcendental supply of inspiration and steering, has no place in Derrida’s philosophy. Sheeda is depicted in oblivion of this easy reality about Derrida’s philosophy. Can we insinuate that Sheeda, representing a Pakistani breed of intellectuals, is incapable of fathoming the depth of post-modern Western philosophy?

Sheeda’s life is stuffed with paradoxes. He loves an enormous of the post-modern mental world however fails to start a life as even an mental, using his personal energy of mind to unravel societal issues after which take a place. As a substitute, he desires, Derrida – as his murshid – to offer him the solutions to questions bearing existentialist significance. Derrida who’s proven visiting Lahore in 1997 (the 12 months he visited India) in Sheeda’s fantasy, pays no heeds to his questions. This angers Sheeda, a self-proclaimed diehard disciple of Derrida’s, who begins on the lookout for Derrida to precise his revenge for the perceived insult. On the finish of the story, it’s revealed that Derrida by no means visited Lahore and that this was fully a figment of Sheeda’s creativeness. Sheeda then goes lacking, leaving some necessary questions behind.

In Mutarjima (Translator), the second story of the ebook, the protagonist is Faiz Ahmad Faiz, although an effort has been made to disguise him. Narrated by a Russian feminine translator of his poetry, the story recounts Faiz’s visits to Russia and the way he was awarded a peace prize and feted by the communist authorities. One can simply sense that the feminine European character is juxtaposed with a male Pakistani character. Although the male Pakistani character is a poet of worldwide stature, he’s eclipsed by her European feminine translator. Because the story is narrated by a ‘feminine European translator’, a type of silence is foisted on Faiz. The story means that the embracing of Western philosophy of Marxism was what made Faiz a worldwide celeb in order that he was feted in Muslim states below the affect of the previous USSR as a ‘success story’. It additionally means that Faiz was conscious of the darker aspect of the good communist world energy however most well-liked to shut his eyes to it. This allowed him to go on basking within the luxurious the Soviet authorities lavished on him. Additional, all through the story, Faiz’s well being and poetry as effectively morality are in a relentless, steep decline. Faiz, who had flirted with an earlier translator Asia (who later needed to face indescribable hardship by the hands of secret companies) did not ravish her white-Western successor. The story counsel that she cherished Faiz and revered his belongings – together with the poems devoted to her – she additionally feared the results of the disclosure of an intimate relationship. This story brings into query the long-lasting picture of poet Faiz. In distinction, Nazim Hikmat’s character is portrayed as sober and robust. He insists that Faiz ought to deal with his translator as a daughter and is at odds with Russians who count on Third World writers to stick to a glorified picture of Russia.

Many of the tales within the ebook are ‘character tales’, narrating decisive occasions in a protagonist’s life. Although there are transient episodes of fantasy, the tales total observe candid, life like and at locations straight, unfeigned model. The plots aren’t as convoluted and complicated as in lots of trendy and post-modern Urdu quick tales. The tales are subsequently simple to learn, however not simple to devour. After getting learn them, it’s essential brace for gleaning the intricacies mendacity beneath the floor. Pleasure studying quickly turns into mental musings. Every of the tales presents the reader with a riddle of the binaries and the hierarchies on one aspect and with the play of presence and absence on the opposite: the overwhelming presence of white-Western and the faint absence of native, non-Western. In Derrida’s deconstruction, the absence or traces can put up a resistance towards a staggering presence and subvert the presence. It is a uncommon prevalence in these tales.

Dareeda Haraamda Aur Doosari Kahanian

Writer: Julian


Writer: Maktaba-e-Danyal, 2022

Pages: 234

The reviewer is a Lahore-based critic and quick story author and a professor of Urdu on the College of the Punjab. He’s the writer of dozens of books together with the award successful Urdu Adab ki Tashkeel-i-Jadid

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