THE WAY IT WAS: Diwali mubarak —Mian Ijaz Ul Hassan
Every generation has to deal with the errors and misfortunes of its
ancestors. The harsh lesson of history is that in order to proceed on to the
future a person has to come to terms with the present and cease living in the
past. If a Lahori like myself wishes to read a poem that has been written in
Ludhiana he must acquaint himself with the Deonagri script
WadheraJi baray waddia banday nain. He is doubtless amiable but in his endeavour to push forward his argument persists in banging the nail on the head. But enough is enough, no use talking at cross-purposes. Mr Wadhera’s figures and contentions are logically persuasive. But let me quickly add that mutual confidence, love and understanding will resolve the issues more often than logic. I have known people foolishly falling in love and being wisely foolish. What is stupid for one, can be love for another. It is a strange world where a brother slaughters his sister for honour and people unleash terror to end terrorism. Would the world be what it is if it were ruled by logic? It is logical for the strong today to justify their actions. Hiding behind the skirts of logic will therefore not do.
Let us, for the moment, change the subject. My friend Wadhera Ji (he informs me) does not represents the Indian army. Nor do I represent the Pakistan army. I must confess — Wadhera Ji surely you will agree with me at least on this one point — that whereas the army reports to the parliament in India, in Pakistan the parliament reports to the generals. Please bear with me then when I expect the Indian parliament to play a more peoples-friendly role than ours. It is ironical, however, that India should maintain a diplomatic reserve when General Musharraf, who represents a constituency that has been traditionally jingoistic, is outspoken about settling issues with its traditionally-feared enemy. I am aware that India, like an elephant, requires more time to make a move, but I hope that the move is made soon to fulfil the shared dream of peace and prosperity. The Indian PM’s directive to reduce the presence of soldiers in the Kashmir Valley is a positive move. It seems that whereas my friend Captain Wadhera living in Surrey turned a deaf ear to my pleas, Shri Manmohan Singh has readily lent me his.
Wadhera Ji, I am a mere painter, no erudite political analyst, but allow me to venture an observation that may be at odd with your premise. I am convinced that there is neither any danger of China invading India nor of India attacking Pakistan. It has become imperative for us to overcome our irrational fears and strengthen mutual understanding for reaping economic benefits and political goals. I am a mere painter but any statesmen will endorse that. So let’s just do it.
Wadhera Ji, you informed me in one of your earlier emails that your dear departed parents were from Sialkot and Wazirabad and yet when occasionally you break into desi in your correspondence it is quite foreign to the speech employed by Guru Nanak, Waris Shah, Iqbal or Faiz. Your language has been inundated by beautiful words from Sanskrit. It is a paradox that when I watch an Indian movie, I understand what is being said but when I listen to the Indian news I can only guess about what I am being informed. I am sure you will have the same experience if you were to listen to our Urdu or Punjabi news. The Urdu has been so Persianised and Punjabi so Urduised. Both countries have played havoc with a common lingua franca. We in Pakistan have ‘Islamised’ the Urdu language using Persian and Arabic and you — I don’t mean you personally — have dove tailed so many Sanskrit words in Urdu/Hindi that even common Indians cannot understand it. Nehru and Shastri spoke chaste Urdu/Hindi. Why not emulate them rather than drift apart in anger in pursuit of a retrogressive nationalism? How do you think the common Englishman would feel if English was Latinised? Languages cannot be invented by academics. Why muddy clear tongues in common use with obscurity.
Vigorous living societies are not overtaken by the past. They don’t bang their heads against history because that will only bleed the head and not alter the events that have been etched for eternity by the unwavering hand of time. Being a Lahori I consider it a great misfortune that I cannot read Punjabi written across the river Beas in the Deonagri script. Fortunately I can read the Adi Garanth that was inscribed in the Persian script. Besides establishing the spiritual guidelines, it is also the first anthology of Punjabi poetry. If the Maha Guru had not preserved Khwaja Fareed’s verse it would have been lost to us forever. The Adi Garanth is unique in that while addressing transcendental issues it doesn’t lose sight of common human concerns expressed by poets describing temporal existence. Although the Adi Garanth was inscribed in the Persian script and Guru Govind wrote the Zafarnama in Persian, Punjabis in East Punjab use the Deonagri script — Ora, Ara instead of Alif and Bay. Ethnically speaking the people who suffered most at the Partition were the Punjabis and the Bengalis who were not only physically separated but also culturally severed from fellow Punjabis and Bengalis.
Every generation inherits the past and has to deal with the errors and misfortunes of its ancestors. It is stupid to fight with the past — the sand that has slipped out of the fist. One can only look ahead and try to bend the future according to the vision of a world that he may cherish. The harsh lesson of history is that in order to proceed on to the future a person has to come to terms with the present and cease living in the past. If a Lahori like myself wishes to read a poem that has been written in Ludhiana he must acquaint himself with the Deonagri script. If my friends from Amritsar wish to easily find their way around Lahore they have to learn to recognise Alif and Bay. It should not be difficult. What do you say? Unfortunately life is not easy; in fact it will become increasingly difficult in the years ahead.
Wadhera Ji thanks for wishing us on “SHUB EID KAY AVSUR PUR HAARDIK BADHAIYAN”. Please accept our heartiest Diwali greetings to you, your parivar, and the Hidu citizens of your country.
Prof Ijaz Ul Hassan is a painter, author and political activist