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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Adhe Adhoore Khawab by Dr Shahid Siddiqui

Review by Dr Jan e Alam Khaki
IED, The Aga Khan University
Daily Times 30 Dec, 2009

Many of us, who are familiar with Dr Shahid Sidiqui as an educator and a prolific English writer, are pleasantly surprised to see this book in a different genre of writing and that too in Urdu language. Aadhe Adhore Khawab is a short novel that reflects an educator’s passion for showing education as a humane discipline that engages human minds and souls, fuses them together in the relationship of the teacher, and teaches students for the reformation of both. The novel suggests that educators are not teaching robots but living human beings, who are equally prone to the sublime touches of feelings and emotions.

Rotating around his experiences of working with an educational institution that he admires and feels drawn all the time, the writer employs artistically a symbolic character, Imtisal Agha, that epitomises the passion of learning and dreams a world devoid of social injustice and class based education. Imtisal Agha, a young passionate girl, meets a radical professor of education, Proessor Saharan Roy, who shares with her the dreams of a just and fair society as a consequence of education based on critical pedagogy. These shared dreams become a point of affinity between them.
One of the key accomplishments of the work is that it successfully gets across some powerful educational ideas in a simple and plain discourse. Readers may imbibe some deep educational thoughts while reading this compelling story of shared dreams.

The novel, through its characters, makes some powerful statements regarding the present state of education and potential alternative in a very appealing and invitational manner. The writer weaves these messages skilfully in the story with the thread of teacher’s love and affection.
Besides education, the novel also dwells upon the themes of politics, gender, social change, class issues, social resistance, science, love, poetics etc., all woven in the fine thread of education and love. The story revolves around Professor Saharan Roy (the protagonist) and Imtisal Agha, an enthusiastic student. The story begins smoothly with soft voices of happiness and aspiration, reaches its climax when Professor Roy, who believes that education is a political phenomenon and takes part in the regular rallies held on every Thursday for the restoration of judiciary in Pakistan. The professor gets arrested and is tortured by the jail administration and dies of heart attack.

Professor Roy’s death in a prison in the hands of cruel forces does not stop the journey of dreams.
This time, it is Imtisal Agha, who goes back to her village and begins teaching students with fewer resources. This is something that her mentor, Professor Roy, wanted her to do and thus, continuing the role of a mentor in a distant mountainous place of the country. Professor Roy’s physical death could not stop the radical thoughts of bringing social change. The novel leaves us with a hope that the death of Professor Roy does not mean the end of struggle.

The novel underlines that education is a political phenomenon and teaching is a political act. Education gives out information to help students pass exams and lead them to action, paving the way to emancipation of human intellect and soul.

Those who have an abiding interest in teaching and learning, education, politics, poetics, literature, and aesthetics may find the book a joy to read, and may learn through the course of reading many powerful messages that may help them enlighten their own views.

Book: Adhe Adhoore Khawab
Author: Shahid Siddiqui
Publisher: Jahangir Books, Lahore
Buy online:
http://jbdpress.com