Zia Mohyeddin - File Photo

LAHORE: Eminent intellectual and writer Zia Mohyeddin’s book “A Carrot is a Carrot: Memories and Reflection” was launched here on Friday.

Keynote speaker Khaled Ahmad talked about various aspects of the book and also regaled the audience with some excerpts.

“Reading his book ‘A Carrot is a Carrot’, I realised he is nothing but what his father carefully nurtured him to become. His father loved classical music and patronised its gifted practitioners. And he taught English and loved the stage. Out of this came Zia Mohyeddin,” Mr Ahmed said.

He said the book was full of people who made Mohyeddin’s life meaningful. Among them are maestros of Indian music. “And if you follow him to England, then it is Peter Ustinov who took to him. For Zia he embodied the ideal that only Athens and then Renaissance city states seriously perused; supremacy of the spoken word. Another Ustinov will not come; another Zia will not come either,” he said.

He said Zia told the people that Shakespeare had embodied coded references in his plays that described Protestantism as ‘low’ and ‘dark’. There were of course other ‘incidents’ in his plays like the friars in Romeo and Juliet and Much Ado about Nothing when a Catholic priest walking out of the globe theatre would have been executed.

Then there was marriage described in the book as sacrament while Queen Elizabeth had decreed marriage a non-sacramental institution requiring no priests for solemnisation, said Mr Ahmed.

Effusive in his praise for the writer, he said: “Zia Mohyeddin is high-cultured, distant and un-talkative; but when the Lahoris go to hear him read on 31st of December every year, they know instinctively that he is quintessentially a language animal.

“He has introduced us to a new way of inflecting the Urdu sentence without us being aware of what he has done. He has removed the thunder of doggerel rendition by Zulfiqar Bukhari, reading even the rhymed couplet in a spoken rhythm.

“I have always tried to explain to myself that what he does to the text that rivets us so. Is it that he ignores the rhyme, the only uncreative thing in Urdu poetry?

Dr Arifa Syeda, Nayyer Ali Dada and Mubarik Ali were among the distinguished participants in the ceremony.

Later, Zia Mohyeddin gave introduction to the book in his inimitable style, reading out some of the paragraphs. The book has been published by Ushba Publishing International, Karachi.

As far as selection of the title is concerned, the author seems to be inspired by Chekhov. The book stands out for sublime prose interspersed with stories of people from an era long gone.

About the book, he says “the material in this collection appeared as newspaper articles over the last 10 years.”

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