The Lockdown – Day Eleven

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‘Remember friends and loved ones, who have left this world, by writing about them. This type of history would help us understand Sindh without applying the ideological lenses. These works would be glimpses of the peoples’ history, not on a grand scale, but a reflection of everyday history. These personal stories would also be counterpoint to the official historian’

By Zaffar Junejo

A death, divorce or discontinued friendship slices the memory of a person. The mourning person becomes vulnerable. He lives with the memories of dead friends, which are shared selectively or voluntarily suppressed. Because he thoughts there is none to understand the delicacy or intimacy of the memoirs of his/ her dead friends so he lives with the burden of memoirs. Gradually, he narrows the social and cultural circle. He lives in crowds, but emotionally he is alone.

Still, I carry the memoirs of Atta Muhammad Nizamani, with whom I worked in the National Rural Support Programme (NRSP) days. Professor Mushtaq Mirani and his team introduced the program in Badin Region. Lately, Professor Aijaz Ahmed Qureshi led it. Madam Najma Siddiqui interviewed and selected Atta Muhammad, initially as an engineer and later he opted to be the social organizer. Later, it was learned that Atta Muhamad’s political consciousness became the decisive factor in the selection. Madam Najma Siddiqui considered it as an additional experience. Otherwise, most of the candidates had similar work experiences and qualifications. Initially, Atta worked with engineer Sultan. Finally, he and I worked at a newly established Talhar unit. In those days, it was the tradition of the NRSP to attach the recruit with the senior. Perhaps the idea of attachment was being practiced or it was the practicality of de-learning. The junior social organizer/under training was bound to observe and follow the senior and document the work of the day. It became difficult for me to reduce the learning of a person at the subordination level, who has direct work experience of GM Syed, Ghous Bux Bezanjo, Shah Muhammad Shah and other seniors. So, we turned the caps, at the day, I was senior and after office hours and in travel, I followed and learned from his political experience.

We used to talk about the children’s organizations (Gulan Jehrra Barerra, and Chinang Sangat and Sathi Barerra Sangat). However most of the time we conversed about student politics. He fondly talked about the various groups of Jeay Sindh Students Federations. I always reminded him to write the experiences. However, he was of the view that factions among students’ organizations were neither ideological nor strategical. Most of these splits were rooted in immaturity, ego, and attitude of factionalism. Another, shining example of his political activism was the era of Movement for Restoration of Democracy (MRD), and he shared a lot of memoirs and anecdotes about the leaders and workers. He was fond of mangoes and yogurt.

I am still of the view that someone, who has closely worked with Atta Muhammad Nizamani should write about him. The writings would serve four purposes: a) at the personal level, they will give words to their sorrow; b) writing about friends is the most cherished experience of joy, where writer enjoys the status of participant-observer-writer. It is an act of catharsis, and is the only way to open the lid of the suppressed memoirs; c) their writing would re-create an old world, where they lived, and d) their writings would widen the canvass, where others could also participate.

In most of the cases, we divert our sorrow in different ways. The most common, and psychological soothing is the acceptance of death as the natural, and treat it as one of the clauses of the living contract. It will surely soothe state of grief, but it will never renew or format the old disc of memoirs. So, in either case, we live with the memoirs of the dead beloved. And a lot of common things and acts remind us of the beautiful part of life, which could be never re-lived. We console ourselves that death is real, and carry out the business of life. But, it resurfaces, while some old memoirs are triggered. So, we live under the debt of grief, and it multiplies in the older days of life.

Another way of showing love and thankfulness at the death of a friend or loved one is the crying and weeping. We become sad and resolve to continue the ideas of dead-friend-beloved. We create memorial committees and celebrate days. We live in an emotional phase. We talk good about dead persons.  However, like the living one, the dead persons’ conduct was also contradictory. We speak well as a sign of love and respect for the dead ones.

Sometimes, close friends gather and console themselves, or avoid the guilt that they have done nothing for their friend. In other words, they are addressing themselves that ‘we are not changed’. This phase of regretting remains for a short time.

The above stated forms are the windows, where friends and loves ones’ memoirs are thrown out. Otherwise, it is our individual as well as collective loss. We live with the suppressed memoirs. In some cases, the living ones took extra efforts to hide their emotions and memoirs. Contrary, those memoirs could be cherished and shared. The artificial suppression generates a perpetual state of denial. So, we are always at work to wipe out the memoirs of the loved ones. It is the most sadden part of life.

There may be more than one aspect to remember friends and loved ones. But until now, the most practiced catharsis is to write about him or her. These intimated memoirs in academic terms would be re-writing of history. This type of history would help us to understand the Sindh, without the application of the ideological lenses. These works would be glimpses of the peoples’ history, not on a grand scale, but a reflection of everyday history. On the other hand, these personal stories would be a counterpoint to the official historian, where the individuals’ contribution is suppressed under ideologies or chronologies.

It is the reality that from the centuries we are living with a sense of loss. Sometimes, it is vivid and so powerful that we feel it. Sometimes we shrug our shoulders with it and continue our lives. However, the sense of a loved ones’ loss reshapes our lives. Occasionally, we realize, but most of the time we thwart that idea or corner it with elbow and pass. On the other hand, it is also true that emotional loss matures us in so many ways. It teaches how life is precious and worth living. It helps us to set priorities. It also directs that happiness is relative, and we part of one larger circle of life. However, it is very much essential to give words to sorrows. Be assured the written word about the loved ones will surely console us.

Trust, me our memoirs, stories, and antidotes about the departed souls would create new acquaintances. In this way, we wouldn’t be alone to cherish and enjoy the old days. And don’t forget writing is the only catharsis that offers immortality.

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