A FEW days ago, two of my friends visited my house. There was another person accompanying them whom I had not met before. We started discussing a wide range of topics, from the recent floods in the country to the upsurge in street crimes and so on. There was no fixed agenda, of course, and the conversation moved from one thing to another seamlessly.
While enjoying our cup of tea, someone recited a beautiful piece of Urdu poetry, and the three of us friends started sharing poetry pieces from a range of distinguished poets. It was great fun till the ‘outsider’ — stranger to me, but an acquaintance of my friends — abruptly stopped us from reciting couplets and enjoying ourselves. Why? Because, according to him, since there were millions of our countrymen in deep trouble owing to the massive devastation caused by the floods, the time was not appropriate for anyone to have fun.
A bit reluctantly, we dropped the discussion which we would have done anyway because it was almost time for the Asia Cup match to start between Pakistan and Afghanistan. To my astonishment, that man did not utter a single word when we switched on the television. He watched the match with us, and watched it as fondly and passionately as any Pakistani fan could. There were occasions when he actually clapped and shouted. He just forgot that our countrymen were in great trouble due to unprecedented rains and floods.
It was obvious that in his mind playing and watching cricket was kosher amid a crisis, while everything else, particularly poetry, was not. I am not sure if it was stupidity or hypocrisy that the behaviour was reflective of.
Dr Syed Qamar Abbas
Published in Dawn, September 25th, 2022