Between quarantine and the quest launched – Diary

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KARACHI: A book titled Between Quarantine and Quest — A Bilingual Anthology of Art, Poetry and Writings edited by Naila Mahmood and Syed Kashif Raza was launched at the Canvas Art Gallery on Saturday evening.

Ms. Mahmood was the first to address the audience, which had quickly filled the gallery space. She took the names and thanked the people who contributed to the post. She also expressed her gratitude to those who had funded the project.

Mr. Raza, who took care of the Urdu part of the book, then took the floor. He said the basic idea behind the book was to compile a bilingual anthology of works produced during or about the pandemic. Crediting his co-editor for his efforts, he remarked that he was amazed at the kind of artwork that came out at that time that Mrs. Mahmood managed to find and include in the compilation.

He informed the audience that comparatively Urdu was a smaller section. He pointed out that in the past, most Urdu writers came from the UP region of India, but later the focus shifted to Punjab. Today, we are witnessing a new phenomenon, namely that some foreigners (non-Pakistanis whose mother tongue is not Urdu) also write in Urdu.

For example, Julien Columeau, of French nationality, writes in Urdu. He also mentioned a Turkish writer who adopted Urdu as his creative language. He again stressed that the real work for the anthology was undertaken by Ms. Mahmood.

After the brief presentations, Shama Askari, Raana Kazmi and Taha Chaudhry were invited to read excerpts from the book.

Ms Askari started the reading segment with an article titled Waba Ke Dino Mein Afsaney written by the late Asif Farrukhi. She read it with clarity and the kind of feeling needed for it. Then there was an article The Pandemic is a Portal by Indian author Arundhati Roy read by Ms. Kazmi.

Mr Chaudhry chose Kashif Raza’s Urdu essay on the topic which concerned the writer’s thoughts on travel during the pandemic.

The writings of Bina Sarkar were also read, followed by the rather familiar territory of Urdu poetry when Ms. Kazmi recited the poem by Iftikhar Arif Aik Saniha whose first line was Dil kehta tha dard ki shiddat kam ho gi tab sher likhein ge (the heart said, I write poetry when if the pain subsided). The reading lasted for a while, which the audience enjoyed.

Posted in Dawn, November 6, 2022

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