Tuesday, 29 March 2016

The Narrative Art of Saadat Hasan Manto by N.S. Tasneem

The Narrative Art of Saadat Hasan Manto

N.S. Tasneem
David Lodge in his New Modes of Writing takes up the Jakobsonian framework, elaborates upon it, and shows that the traditional fiction is metonymic and the modernist fiction is metaphoric. Saadat Hasan Manto’s mode of narration is at times realistic and metonymic whereas at some other times he adopts the metaphoric mode of narration. His choice mostly depends on the subject matter of his short stories. In fact he chooses the metonymic mode when he aims at depicting the outer reality. When he seeks the inner reality he takes recourse to modernist/metaphoric mode.

The subject matter of Manto’s stories reminds the reader of the stories of Guy de Maupassant. But there is an obvious difference in their approach. Maupassant is gleeful while depicting the idiosyncrasies of his characters and at times he makes fun of ethical concepts. Manto, on the other hand, is concerned with the inherent goodness of the so-called fallen people in the contemporary society. In the process he too treads on the moral corns of the bourgeoisie. Admittedly, both of them are not moralists in the strict sense of the term. Still, in my opinion, Manto is not with Maupassant but with D.H. Lawrence.

Like Lawrence, Manto wants to comprehend the reality of life by removing the masks from the faces of the people around him. Again, like Lawrence, Manto is an omniscient narrator but his style makes him a modernist. In his lifetime, Manto was content to be called a writer of new fiction (Naya Adab) or modern fiction (Jadeed Adab). Initially he identified himself with the progressives but later he drifted away from them. He had abhorrence for anything contrived or constructed with an ulterior motive. He was a true artist who loved life in totality. He could not overlook the seamy side of life; rather he revelled in its depiction.

Manto was a born storyteller but he never devised ways and means to project his viewpoint. He was not only seized with a particular aspect of life but was also obsessed with it. In such a state of mind he produced works of art but without straining his nerves about their forms. In reality he was an unconscious artist. As a result he created superb as well as drab stories without being conscious of this fact. In some of his stories like “Tutu” and “Janki” his first person narration and authorial comments produce a jarring note. He attains the stature of a modern storyteller when his narration moves from metonymic to metaphoric, from statement to suggestion.

Manto has the conviction that a story has a beginning, a middle and an end. But in actual practice he begins his stories at random, does not bother to adopt the flashback technique, never strives to pinpoint the middle and is most unpredictable about the end. His stories invariably move in a chronological order and the endings are either abrupt as in “Dhuan” (The Smoke), or shocking as in “Khol Do”(Open it), or unexpected as in “Kali Salwar” (The Black Trouser). At times he gives a purposeful jolt to the reader’s mind as in “Toba Tek Singh” and “Sau Candle Power ka Bulb” (A bulb of hundred watts). Whatever may be the case, the endings are never contrived. They no doubt at times appear to be at variance with his mode of straight-forward narration. All the same they represent the nucleus of his stories and have nothing to do with O’ Henry’s twist-in-the-tail mode of narration. -- Re-Markings Vol 15 No. 1 March 2016.
Note: For complete paper contact the Chief Editor, Re-Markings : ghoshnk@hotmail.com

Professor N.S. Tasneem is the recipient of many prestigious awards: Shiromani Sahityakar Puraskar (1995), Sahitya Akademi Award (1999), and the Punjabi Sahitya Ratan Award by the Languages Department, Punjab Government.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Re-Markings Vol 15 No.1, March 2016 POETRY CORNER


Re-Markings Vol 15 No.1, March 2016

Five Poems
Patricia Prime
Themes on a Variation
Two women at the start of summer
sit outside on the veranda talking
while all I hear is the rustling
of tui in the apple tree and see
their black wings and white throats
as they flit from bough to bough.
There’s a great grey cloud
paused above the distant hills
so still it shapes the slow afternoon,
then storm-light breaks through cloud,
flares for an instant and dies
far away in the evening sunset.
Scene at the Beach
He’s walking behind them –
the man, the woman, the dog,

beneath the pohutukawa trees
lining the burning sand.

There’s a pulse in the air:
the sound of gulls, the churn of waves,

but most of all is the argument
that continues along the beach.

The woman leans away
towards the comfort of the trees,

the man dips his feet in the cooling
sea, trailing the dog’s lead,

while the child, the one they
are fighting about – they think

can’t hear – is counting seashells
in his bucket without a care.
Blue Bowl
Walking along the seawall
where the gulls craft the blue
there is only that moment
of wave-song crashing on the rocks
for a billion years.
It can be hard to look,
hard to stop and breathe in
slowly, let the footsteps
get near, see the child’s fingers
picking up a pebble.
A blue upturned bowl
seals the horizon, cumulus
clouds licking its edges.
To live is to perch, precarious,
on the rim. I stand still
noticing only a gannet
swimming in the deep blue.
He’s circling the harbour
waiting for something to swim
past, his pin-eyes alert.
Touching Wood
Why imagine the worst happening?
A boy knocked down in the waves,
the back door broken into, robbing
the home of its security. I recall
leaning my face into the flowers
in the Rose Garden on being inspired
by the perfume I hadn’t expected;
of being moved by emotion
of the music at my husband’s
funeral. I try to focus on the present,
this negative thinking banished
by the beauty and endurance of nature,
to extinguish what I cannot say
and banish it forever; to thank
my good fortune as the prized
and privileged survivor of fate.

whatever the news on the screen
while we can we must love each day
it dawns to give us life or lack
to enjoy the next day
I cannot see the ocean waves
on the other side of the hill
where the road comes to a sharp bend
there’s the smallest cottage
if I doze it is to expand
my vanishing point while traffic
blurs past me outside the window
towards the motorway
the gas sheen in Van Gogh’s puddles
yellow halos rimming cafes
almost the colour of sunshine
the image is so strong
spring has come and the pink blossom
sways in the breeze like a dancer
bare and graceful on the hillside
its presence fills my life
an old couple walk in the park
taking advantage of the sun
their thoughts that spring has come at last
greeted by buds and trees.

·         Patricia Prime, based in New Zealand, is co-editor of the haiku journal Kokako, reviews/interviews editor of Haibun Today and a reviewer for Atlas Poetica,Takahe and other journals. Patricia edited the special issue of ekphrastic tanka for Atlas Poetica, has selected haiku for the Touchstone Awards and has written an essay on her tanka for Ribbons, an essay on collaborative writing for Lynx, and one on tanka prose for Haiku NewZ. She is on the editorial panels of the Indian journals Poetcrit, Writers, Editors, Critics and New Fiction Journal. Her poetry, interviews and reviews have been published in the World Poetry Almanac (Mongolia) in 2009-2015. She has recently edited, with two Australian poets, Amelia Fielden and Beverley George, an anthology of tanka written by New Zealand and Australian poets, called 100 Tanka by 100 Poets. The world haiku anthology, A Vast Sky, edited with Dr. Bruce Ross and others was published recently. She has published a book of collaborative tanka, Shizuka, with French poet, Giselle Maya. 

Four Poems
Zehra Nigah
Translated from the Urdu by
Urvashi Sabu
The Acrobat Woman
She stands, against the wooden board
As though impaled in every part
First her son, then her husband
Will rain knives upon her
Over her hands, over her shoulder
Over her head, over her back.
The spectators, with bated breath
Watch this spectacle again and again
As if it’s the first time.
But no one knows
That in this carnival called life
Ornamented and impaled
To the board of domesticity
This woman conceals within her
The knives aimed by her own kinsmen.
If there’s a difference, it’s just this:
The sharp blades of these knives pierce her body
But are invisible to the world.
Sita’s the talk of the town
Barefoot on the flames, as she walks down.

A goddess, if she emerges unscathed
A sinner if the flames consume her whole,
She whose beauty soothed the universe
In the mirror of fire, does herself behold.
Let the world think what it will
But that all-knowing God!
The destroyer of sin and falsehood
Is so naïve, and still her Lord?
Behold! She crosses the flames unharmed
And her husband’s trust does win,
She sees Rama, his arms wide open,
All eager to fold her in.
She walks up to him, having crossed that extra mile.
But from that day onward, she lives in true exile.
Why do you stare at him thus? Remember?
He’s the same urchin you would see
Every time, when you traveled this way.
Early in the morning, yellow dust cloth in hand
He would eagerly wait for the signal to turn red.
Late afternoon, with those bundles of mid-day newspapers
Clutched to his chest, he would come.
And in the evening, laden with fragrant gajras
He would bloom in these streets.
Maybe you’ve forgotten the lilt of his voice
That chirped on endlessly.
Perhaps you’ve forgotten his luminescent eyes
That saw and shone all at once.
Ask him his name and he would reply, ‘I’m Superman!’
Almost flying, he would cross each road.
Like so many children in this, my city
He was illiterate, ignorant.
No guiding hand blessed his forehead.
He grew up in the blistering sunshine of his own toil.
A desert bloom, he had been rocked by the winds
And put to sleep on the bare chest of the city
Amid lullabies of the stars.
He was the inheritor of this blessed land, the heir apparent
He was the length and breadth and depth of the sea,
the forehead of mountains.
Why do you stare at him thus? Remember?
He’s the same urchin you would see
Every time, when you traveled this way.
Today, in this blessed land, this Superman
Exhausted, and shivering with cold
Cannot wipe with his own hands
Even the saliva dribbling from the cavern of his lips.
No longer now that yellow dust cloth on his shoulder
No thought of that bundle of newspapers
No more that philosophy of self-imposed labour
No more that God gifted intelligence
No more that audacity of glib talk.
He’s no more concerned with enmity or peace.
He’s now addicted to the poison in his veins.
Gulzameena, Gulzameena, with your delicate finger,
What do you write on this pile of rubble?
Gulzameena raised her questioning eyes and replied,
‘A few days ago, this pile of rubble was my school
I would come here daily
And inscribe the Holy name of Allah on its wall.
My paper, pens and books, my fellow companions, have all been destroyed.
I come here every day, and from the satchel of my memories,
I pull out the last lesson I learnt.
I write it on this pile of rubble and return
I know I am not destined to read
At least I can continue to write.
·         Zehra Nigah is one of the most respected and admired senior women poets writing in Pakistan today. Born in Hyderabad (India) in 1937, she migrated to Pakistan in 1947. Her poetry conveys a sensitivity towards women which is strikingly different from the usual aggressive feminist stances commonly seen in contemporary women’s writing. Even more remarkable is her empathic understanding of the psychology of children and the horror of child exploitation.
  • Dr. Urvashi Sabu is Associate Professor in the Department of English at P.G.D.A.V. College, University of Delhi. She takes keen interest in poetry, drama and translation and is also passionate about women’s issues.
Two Poems
Barbara Briggs

In the midst of the darkest of nights
I behold the silent petals of a rose aflame
In the center of a whirling world
I behold a sea of peace
In the middle of the desert
a garden appears
and the quiet song of the angels is heard
melting the snow upon the topmost peaks
embracing the soil with the fires of love
and in the distance
the golden bells resound
calling us back to you
O divine most loved
we are forever returning.
The Bells of Eternity
I hear the bells of eternity
ringing in the morning air
they sing of love and joy
of the flaming worlds beyond a sea of stars
they sing of union
and the soundless dance that moves from here to here
they invite you
O my soul
they call you
out of the silence
into beckoning waves of light
O quickening heart
arise and go forth
into the billowing space
of your destiny.
  • Barbara Briggs is a freelance writer and author of two books: Vision into Infinity and The Contribution of Maharishi's Vedic Science to Complete Fulfillment in Life. Her debut novel, Pilgrimage on the Path of Love is scheduled for publication in October in England.
My Gulf Dreams
Maya Vinai
Dedicated to all overseas workers in Gulf countries who sacrifice the best years of their life to fend for their families.
I brave the storm and wipe the dust and heat off my brow.
To build you a palatial house gleaming with marbled opulence.
I devour the unpliant khubbus dipped in unsavory meat,
To placate your taste buds with chicken breast squirming in spicy gravy
I hold back my tongue when they whip and thrash me,
To let you spend peaceful nights filled with serenity and comfort.
Like a deity in a shrine, I circumambulate the youngsters who have just returned from home.
To get a whiff of oil from their head and placate my patriotic ardor.
I jump at horror when I hear from them of the tales back home,
Of elders in the neighborhood who were unsuspectingly robbed one night when they were fast asleep.
Of a co-worker’s wife, who spent her day in straightening her in the parlour and nights burrowed in her beloved’s arms.
On every festival and cricket match day, I take a resolution to come back fast to see my child’s growing years,
To watch her squeal with delight and fight stubbornly for the toy she wants.
To see my wife dazzling with pride in the gold necklace I had brought her last Christmas.
To see my parents spend their twilight years in peace and happiness.  
But I always succumb to the impulse of gathering a little more
Before I finally, gather my dreams and head back home.
To be with my own when they need me the most.

·         Dr. Maya Vinai teaches English in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at BITS-Pilani, Hyderabad campus.
Two Poems
Sushil Kumar Mishra
Courtesy is essence of human values and humanity
Symbolises politeness and civility.
Sorry, thank you, please, good morning, good evening etc. are words
Which sweeten social and family life with good wishes and mercy.
Enriches human relation and unites the whole nation.
Beautifies and glorifies human personality with super quality.
Costs nothing but pays something; extends friendliness,
Brotherhood and enhances social unity.
Makes life perfectly meaningful, fragrant and beautiful.
Improves love and mutual understanding.
Wonders of Science
Science is a blessing for the Universe.
Caused industrial revolution and all round evolution.
Caused Green revolution and increased food production.
Created White Revolution and enhanced milk production.
Caused  Blue Revolution and increased fish and meat production.
Caused golden revolution in fruits and vegetables production.
Enhanced the life expectancy, decreased the mortality rate.
Made human beings busy and their livelihood easy.
Enlightened the world with knowledge and
Enriched industrialization and boosted globalisation.
Helped us to convert our dreams into reality
By tireless striving and pursuing perfection.
  • Dr. Sushil Kumar Mishra is Associate Professor & Head, Department of English, SRM University, Sonepat, Haryana.