Education, Development, and Change
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Sunday, July 3, 2011

Adhay Adhooray Khawab: My Reflections


Isbah Hameed

MPhil Environmental Studies, Lahore
Adhe Adhoore Khawab is written by Dr. Shahid Siddiqui, a well known linguist and educationist of the country. I met him, for the first time, when he came to our MPhil class of Environmental studies as an invited speaker.  If my memory doesn’t betray me the topic of his talk was, Politics of Education.  The session was for two hours but the we didn’t realize how quickly the time passed as each one of us was fully absorbed in the session.  Even after the talk we kept on discussing the implications of the talk.  It was during this session that I personally came to know Dr Shahid. I liked his critical approach to political and educational issues.  His ideas and the way he spoke distinguished him from the rest of the people I knew. 
Prof Roy may be physically dead but he keeps on throbbing in the hearts of hundreds of his students. 

Adhay Adhooray Khawab is a reflection of his critical approach to socio-political issues.  He has explained in the book how education and social change are closely related to each other and how the meaning of teaching and education has drastically changed over time. Education is a tool that is used by the ruling strata of the society to suppress the common and to achieve their own ends. The novel revolves around a central character of Professor Saharan Roy who is a passionate teacher and believes that teaching is a creative work.  His students are inspired by him.  Even those students of college who were not his direct students, had heard a lot about him from their seniors who always referred to him and admired him in their discussions. Prof Roy is convinced that there is a strong association between education and ideology and that education can bring radical change in society.
The novel refers to a number of books, writers, and philosophers. Time and again the mention of an interesting book or writer shows that the book is the creation of a learned man with a critical approach. The writer describes how literacy, sometimes, isused in societies not to make people powerful but to fortify the process of slavery. Different phrases like Education and power, politics of reading, education and ideology, politics of education are used which support the central theme of the novel, i.e., the role of education and change in society. All these terms unveil the concealed realities and force the reader to analyze the existing situation enabling the reader to critically review his/her own educational process. The writer also points out the need for critical literacy, rather than functional literacy, to bring about required social change.
The way Prof Roy introduces his students to each other in the very first class, through drawing a very special flower of their own choice with only three petals, is also very unique. This shows his keenness in building confidence in his students. Being a student I can understand that how students feel when they are free to say or write what they think. This gives us a sense of freedom and individuality. Prof Roy believes in interactive teaching and does not confine himself to usual lecture methods. He explains to his students that a teacher is just like a cake of three layers and these layers are of knowledge, pedagogy and love. He thinks that the beauty of teaching is to first melt the existing ideas and then reshape them. I think the way Prof Roy defines characteristics of a good teacher should be made guidelines by those who plan to come to teaching profession.
The story begins when Sir Roy comes back to Karachi where he used to teach for three years in a PTC (Professional Training College). He feels the difference in the city that has came since he has left. He has been invited from community centre for a lecture and they have arranged for his stay in the city in a hostel. It was summer time and there was just one more student in that hostel. This students was Imtisal Agha who belongs to a small village in a valley of hills covered with wild flowers, fruits, butterflies. She thoroughly enjoys her childhood in the village but then she has to leave her village and come to the city, a place filled with noise and smoke. She comes to PTC to get her teaching professional course. She is an intelligent student, a keen observer, and a person who is concerned about social injustices in the society.
Tassawur is his senior colleague and is much influenced by Prof Roy who had left the college long ago. One day in the college Imtisal, who has just joined the college, and Tasswur among their friends are discussing teachers and their characteristics, a fond hobby of students.  Tassawur, being so much moved by his attachment to his teacher speaks highly of Prof Roy with great passion. Imtisal, who has heard a lot about Prof Roy, gets more curious and is eager to find more about him. She comes to Tasswur one day who tells her that how inspiring Prof Roy was and how Tassawur still felt his presence over there although it had been many years since Prof Roy had left. Listening from Tassawur she wishes if she could meet with Prof Royonce in her life.
Then comes a turning point in the story when Prof Roy returns to the city after ten years. And stays in the same hostel where Imtisal lives. Her long lasting wish comes true when she meets with Prof Roy as a mere co-incidence as they one in a TV lounge. In this very first meeting with Prof Roy she realizes the magic of his capturing personality and powerful ideas.  Her unexpected meeting with Prof Roy brings unexpected changes in her personality. It’s true that some people are so charismatic that they can leave deep impressions of their personality even during a single encounter. There is such a fascination in their thoughts and personalities that one lives under their trance the rest of one’s life.  Such was the impact of Prof Roy on on Imtisal. The story moves on when, contrary to her inner desire, Imtisal starts avoiding Prof Roy for unknown reasons. Her inner conflict is reflected in her soliloquy:
Kabhi kabhi hum apne aap ko khud se chupate hain
Na-jane aisa kyun hota hai
Lekin aisa hota zaroor hai
I am particularly impressed by the way the writer describes the phenomenon of love in a subtle way. The story moves around a strong relationship between a mentor and a mentee. With the passage of time Imtisal comes to know that the strength of their relationship lies in the similarity in their dreams.
The lawyer’s movement gets extra momentum by the participation of civil society in it. Prof Roy is also very active in this movement along with his students. He is informed that he is at the hit list of the people from whom govt. wants to get rid of. Why is this govt. afraid of such unarmed people? Prof Roy thinks loud. Then one day in a protest the police arrests him, sends him to jail and tortures him to speak out the names of the students who are with him in this movement. He bears all the torture but does not tell them the students’ names. And finally one day the news comes to the students that their most respected and reverend teacher has left them forever as a result of hear failure in the jail. Imtisal gets this news at her village.  It takes her back to those days when she met Prof Roy and Prof Roy’s affectionate manner of mentoring brought a visible change in her personality.  Meanwhile Imtisal is offered a well paid job in an international organization.  But she recalls Prof Roy’s desire that she should go to her own village and teach the poverty-ridden students. She is determined to carry forward Prof Roy’s dreams of social justice and economic parity and joins a small school in her village to disseminate the light of education. She sees the reflection of those dreams in her students’ eyes. Prof Roy may be physically dead but he keeps on throbbing in the hearts of hundreds of his students.