Saturday, September 26

A Pakistani bibliophile fulminates

Sort of hit the spot for me. I can appreciate Masood’s angst.

This is of course very interesting and explains largely why we have continued to turn and twist inwards into our little shells because we simply do not wish to read any books any more. It is not difficult to conduct your own little survey and find out how bad things are. I frequently ask aspiring youngsters, both males and females, from some of the best universities and colleges and prosperous backgrounds, the name of the last book they have read and invariably have been treated to a show as they have looked heavenward, scratched their heads and wrung their hands but the name of the book has simply eluded them. Amazing. The conversation having by then degraded to lower levels, the next probes are names of authors they can recall, (Keat is one, Shakis – Pir another) but mostly it is, ‘sorry I can’t remember.’ Any book they read some time back that they liked? And here too most often, there is a large blank and a shake of the head. Of course no one reads newspapers and invariably no newspapers ever come into their homes. As for magazines, perhaps one or two but here too, they are unable to recall names. And it is more or less the same story at the numerous dinners and GTs that Pakistanis specialize in. There is never any talk of any book and no one is prepared to broach the subject almost as if doing so would in turn lead to a major catastrophe. But here I exaggerate. I would say that the notion of discussing a book simply does not figure anywhere on the agenda of most Pakistanis.

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