KARACHI: Adeel Hashmi feels he was done a disservice at the fourth Karachi Teachers’ Literary Festival. He wishes he was introduced to the audience in Urdu. Such is his vocation for the cause of the national language.
Hashmi laid clear his disappointment at the session, titled ‘Understanding Faiz in the classroom’. “Pakistan is a country where, if someone does wrong, it sets a precedent for others to follow,” he said, quoting a recent experience at a traffic signal where everyone broke the signal just because the first person did.
Unfortunately, ‘Faiz’ is missing from the curriculum in our schools, he concluded. “Children will not do what you want them to. They will do what you do; elders are role models for the younger ones,” he reasoned.
“We were fortunate to have gone to school at a time when Urdu was an important feature in our syllabus,” he smiled. Stressing the importance of literature in our culture, he asked the audience to understand that talking in English was not cool, albeit accepting your national language as a matter of pride was.
Speaking about his own household, he said that his four-year-old son knew as much Urdu as his 10-year-old daughter and the difference was just in the style of teaching. “I reward my son with his favourite chewing gum whenever he learns a new verse of Faiz,” he added.
Narrating an experience with the poet himself, Hashmi said that once when Faiz came to Karachi in the mid-1980s, he was asked how he felt about not having any of his works in the academic curriculum. At the time, Faiz had said he was grateful to the government for not including his work because the youth tended to hate poets the most, who they had to study in their textbooks.
“We live in a country where tempers are ever flaring and everyone is on boiling point,” said Hashmi. He also criticised the use of ‘Roman’ Urdu that has caught on in the recent years. “Pakistan has accepted wholeheartedly the third language, which is Roman Urdu,” he said, criticising the corporate sector and the majority of billboards on the roads for using the new style.
Hashmi suggested educating children with varied literature, instead of allowing them to study hate material. “The only intelligent party in this country is the ‘bacha party’. We should all take an oath to pass on a good message to one child at least,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 27th, 2015.