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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Adhe Adhoore Khwab: My Impressions

Adhe Adhoore Khawab: My Impressions
Fauzia Reza

In 'Aadhay Adhooray Khawab' the obvious ingredients of the theme—the noble purpose of education, passing on the torch, etc.—aside, the narrative poetically touches upon several of the “universal laws” one might encounter as an amateur student of philosophy, human psyche and related disciplines. Before I proceed to elaborate on this unusual aspect of the book, a word on the subtleties in the text, for I find these to be tantalizingly rich and singular: what is left unsaid is often of far more significance than that which is clearly elucidated. Take, for instance, the case of how one might go about defining the nature of the relationship between Professor Saharan Rai and Ms. Imtishal Agha—well, on the obvious level it would appear clearly platonic, and yet there is a clear enough allusion to an element of jealous concern on the part of one when the other is reported to have shown more than the needed level of grace and hospitality to a third party.

Back to the universal laws: the novel begins with Professor Rai’s visit to a city where he has, in the past, worked as a teacher. He is scheduled to stay in a hostel that he describes as desolate, and, it turns dark as soon as he steps in. To add to the melancholy and mystery, there is only one other resident of this hostel. The Professor's name sort of suggests that his family may have its roots in the Ganges-Yamuna belt. A significant proportion of the residents of this area are known for their belief in past lives, hence the law of incarnation. Did the Professor and Ms. Agha had the occasion to be under the same roof in a past life and never got to meet? Does this meeting represent another chance in this life for the two to convene and address the Professor's 'Adhay Adhooray Khaab'?

One interpretation of the law of attraction is that “we attract towards us all that we require”. It does not promise that this is what we want. Ms. Agha is ostensibly in search of a purpose in life, while the Professor feels a calling to leave his dreams in safe hands. Ms. Agha perhaps does not 'want' to teach in the shabby classroom of the school in the village; perhaps she wants to be in the comfortable UN set up, but, her spiritual fulfilment requires her to be in that classroom. And, this appears to be an excellent match with the Professor’s “requirements”.

Enough about the “laws” for one review, let me touch upon another one of the finer subtleties: the communication between Ms. Agha and the Professor via dreams. That dreams provide a key channel of intuition is reasonably well accepted. Mona Lisa Schulz in her groundbreaking major work on intuition well being and brain science ‘Awakening Intuition’ says: ‘…..dreams are a primary source of intuition, a channel through which crucial guidance is broadcast and vital images televised to us about matters that are critical to our lives…..the key to getting intuitive information from dreams is to remember your dreams. You must also be willing to listen to and accept the information they broadcast to you.’ In her dream, Ms. Agha sees the Professor suggesting to her that she should teach the kids in the school in her village. Subsequently, in real life, Professor Rai expresses his desire for Imtishaal Agha to help educate the community in her village, perhaps subtly alluding to a bond of communication between the two on multiple frames.

A word about the expression: the novel is written with a nice, spontaneous flow. It is interesting to see chunks of English added as the characters talk to each other i.e. “woh aik aam say insaan thay….very unassuming” (p.29). This gives it a realistic touch, for that is how today’s spoken Urdu has evolved. The theme, combined with the subtleties, should make for the basis of an excellent television play or a movie. I could literally visualise the beginning with Imtishal Agha’s first day teaching at the school. There, noticing Agha’s reaction to the mention of Professor Rai, a little girl student remarks: ‘So, you were that fond of him.….?’