Pashto comedy book seen as beacon of hope

Intellectuals say Khanda Mah essential to revive literature

Hidayat Khan October 16, 2015

PESHAWAR: From proverbs to the use of donkeys, Ajmal Khan Afridi’s Khanda Mah or Laughter is forbidden tackles a wide range of social issues and its publication is being touted as essential by the literati. It is the only Pashto comedy prose book published in recent times.

“In my personal view, quality writers have stopped working in Pashto literature for some time,” says Saadullah Jan Burq who has also written Pashto comedy dramas for years. “And I am greatly disappointed by this,” he continues. Barq adds this recent publication provides a ray of hope that writers are still interested in creating quality work.

With a pinch of laughter

The book has ten chapters discussing different issues such as Pashto cinema. He talks about the deteriorating quality of films and the manner in which they destroy culture and impact society.

About medical facilities in rural areas, he questions illiterate quacks becoming doctors and treating uneducated villagers.

His book touches upon a vast range of other topics such as Pashto literature, proverbs, the use of donkeys, traffic jams, unemployment and other matters.

Scathing satire

Afridi’s work is similar to that of Barq in its scathing criticism of the system and social issues plaguing society for years. Barq adds there are no quality writers in either television or radio; two important mediums shaping the behaviour of the country.

In recent times, most attention is focused on war and terrorism, while literature and culture have been largely ignored. There are a number of comedy poets across the province, however, a lack of resources means there are no organised efforts to get their work to the people.

The 128-page Khanda Mah, published by Jaras Literary Society, is an organised effort. The writer claims he has written it in simple language, while another poetry compilation is also in the press for publishing. He adds other Pashto comedy prose by him will be published within a year.

“When there is a war-like situation all around, there are almost no literary sessions and Pukhtuns are in tears,” says Ziaullah Hamdard of Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan. “Turning tears to smiles is a great service.” He adds prose writers are in the minority compared to poets. He believes such a book will help revive the reading culture among the public.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 16th, 2015.


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