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Why we need a Dickens to awaken us!

Our nation has no taste in arts…..

Almost all things related to arts are considered obnoxious …..

Dancers, actors, true artists will all go to hell (as if they are not already living in one)

My nation’s taste of entertainment and culture starts with PAN and ends with Sunny Leone…

Politicians, clerics, liberal activists and all others in the so-called intelligentsia have failed to jolt this 180 million who cry one day for one tragedy or another and consume all the available luxuries, food the other day…. Smiling, unmoved by the doom.

But still I think we need a ‘Dickens’ like writer to awaken this nation from the deep slumber caused by consumerism and collective amnesia.

Unlike Allama Iqbal, for if he actually awakened anyone is debatable as the history of Pakistan in the ‘Pakistan Studies’ book is more fiction than fact. A book which wants us all to wield swords and conquer Kashmir as if a piece of land is more important than peace of the world.

We all know Dickens for ‘Oliver Twist’ and ‘Great Expectations’ , the novels we were forced to read like all the other stuff we read in schools as a part of ‘English literature’ (with sometimes our so-called English teacher had no clue about).

But if you read to read, understand and develop your personality for good …. Dickens portrayed the most hated characters, most haunting realities, discrepancies and hypocrisies of a traditional society through the eyes of children in novels like ‘David Copperfield’, ‘Oliver Twist’ and ‘Hard Times’.

Dickens aptly put it in words, the traditional society faced by realities of a new economic order called ‘Industrialization’ and ‘Capitalism’. A society which turns hypocritical by refusing to keep pace with the fast changing world and keeps culture close to heart at the cost of an ailing working class.

We, too need a Dickens to tell us in episodic way of writing that the malls do not only house luxurious goods, food on sale but also houses humans selling it. Pizzas are delivered by men who too have families at home.

His orphaned ‘Oliver Twist’ can easily be compared with a Pakistani poor seminary (Madressa) student, disowned by the society and still forced to obey.

A child which can easily be rescued by anyone when he escapes the pickpocket gangsters is sent back to the same hell because of the ostrich behaviour one keeps in a traditional society like our.

Someone who can tell us through a Pakistani Thomas Gradgrind (one of the leading characters in ‘Hard Times) that dreaming is good and one can strike a balance between total utilitarianism and blind patriotism preached by self-styled analysts, and self righteousness preached by Mullahs.

He who can tell the culture loving Gradgrinds that preparing a child for one extreme will lead them to another extreme.

One who can start a healthy debate of ideas to replace the juicy political debate on the idiot box (i mean TV)

We need to at least revisit ‘Tale of Two Cities’ to believe in peoples’ revolution and how real revolutions are brought by hungry, poverty stricken people not by some bourgeoisie youth making trends on Twitter.

One who can make us believe in soft revolution.

Someone who can tell the youth through ‘Pip’ and ‘Estella’ of ‘Great Expectations’, what the word ‘romance’ actually means and how fortunes can change if we want them to.

A nation battered by terrorist attacks, hate, violence and poverty can awaken itself if it wants but for this crowd of 180 million pitiless souls, a soft natured writer and touching fiction can do the trick. A society which has to choose between ‘culture’ and ‘humanity’ at once to come out of the terrible mess it landed itself in.

As Cassandra Clare once wrote, “Only the very weak-minded refuse to be influenced by literature and poetry.”


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