On last Thursday – as is my wont – skipping the rest of the pages, I directly opened Oped/Edit pages of GK. Amongst all the titles,"Celebrating the poet" by Humaira Hayat captured my attention. I started reading her article with keen interest. After going through its contents, I was left with a sour taste in my mouth given the rewarding experience I had fondly anticipated & the disappointment it slapped upon my expectations.
First I should profusely 'thank' the author for transporting me back exactly to those days when for my school exams, I had to learn by rote the brief bio on poets like Iqbal, Ghalib, Mir etc preceding their prescribed ghazals in our urdu textbook. The write up in question seems to have been plucked 'unharmed' from the same source and translated into English. I wonder what actually was the motive behind writing this piece? The material stuffed in the piece is exclusively meant for little kids. Details contained therein can be obtained by simply using Google. What purpose did it serve? In my humble view, writing either derives its sustenance from spring of creativity or feeds upon varied diet of analysis. Even if in both cases outcomes turn out to be unsatisfactory, at least modest efforts invested in task to explore the unexplored deserves our appreciation. Sadly enough, write up of the revered writer lacks both things.
Any work contributed to GK or for that matter other news dailies should invariably supply new insights about the given topic. Churning out same old stuff with nothing interesting is boring at best and unpalatable at worst. One way to grapple with material of such sort is to place it within the matrix of emerging realities to determine its relevance or irrelevance in the contemporary times. Another method would be to shed light on areas of topic either scarcely known or deliberately avoided. There are many other perspectives from which we can approach a concept or personality instead of relying upon set of moth-eaten cliches.
Given the fact the author is a BA Ist year student and may be equipped with limited knowledge vis-a-vis Iqbal (My perception can be wrong as well), judging her too harshly for not providing anything 'different' about Allama Iqbal would be a bit unreasonable. But that does not mean you should accommodate those works which tend to cast gloomy shadows over the sunshine of reputation it basks in. It is advisable for the concerned writer – or for that matter any other writer – to do an adequate study before attempting to deal with topics of such kind.
Lastly, I believe that budding writers should be encouraged as far as possible but at the same time we should always point out their 'weak areas' to let them scale peaks of glory. So I hope the writer in contention takes my point in good humor and receive in no way my seemingly harsh response as a source of discouragement. We are all learners here and I too am just a humble beginner.
(Imtiyaz Assad hails from Drussu Pulwama)