While sharing his and other family members’ lockdown-days’ routine, the author very tactfully discusses various books in a bid to develop reading habit and writing skills among the youngsters, as well as suggests those who feel them trapped at home how to get away with undesirable situation.
By Zaffar Junejo
These days, social media spill-over with posts wherein subscribers are sharing their readings and titles of books. It is an encouraging act. I hope some of them would continue this newly acquired habit. I am optimistic. Today, I want to share with you what we are reading at our home during the lockdown days.
The reading habit is cultivated at toddling years, and it starts from the home. The mother nourishes the habit in children. Afterward, the reading becomes home-affair. The library at home helps children to retain the reading habits. Then, there comes the role of primary teachers, who assist the budding readers to carry on the reading habits. In sum, primary schools and secondary school teachers play an important role in retaining the reading culture among young learners. Then, the immediate social environment plays a vital role. It may be a circle of friends, teachers or ones’ compulsion for reading. Now I want to talk that what we as a family are reading in these lockdown days.
I start with myself, last week I finished John Tosh’s The Pursuit of History. The author has handled different questions. He has talked about historians and their books, explored the reasons to study history, and spotlighted its usages. He has also differentiated between other disciplines of social science and history. In addition to that, the author has also commented on the different styles of history writing. I have also started ‘I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us’ and a ‘Grander View of Life’. But I have just turned the 25 pages. So, I will talk about it on another occasion.
Rozina Junejo, who works as a freelance journalist, is reading ‘Dr. Sanjida Mughal Ji Aa’tam Kaha’ni’ (Autobiography). Professor Dr. Tanveer Junejo has presented and edited the book. Rozina told me that she planned to read it because she wanted to learn about the village Boriri and Dadu town. She told me that latter was her hometown, so what comes up about the town it attracts her. She told that book has two parts, part one consists write-ups of Adi Tanveer Junejo and Adi Tabasum Junejo.
The second part presents Dr. Sanjida Mughal’s biography. These compiled pieces are based on Adi Tanveer Junejo’s conversations with Dr. Sanjida Mughal. The book tells the sociology of those times. It also narrates the social phenomenon of Sindh’s pre-partition days. Rozina is of the view that it is a must reading for the students of anthropology and sociology.
My elder daughter Elsa Junejo, who is doing her Bachelor of Business and Administration, Faculty of Business and Accountancy, University of Malaya, Malaysia is reading Lucy Maud’s novel ‘Anne of Green Gables’. She told that generally, it is believed that the novel is written for young adults. But the people of all ages could read it. She considers it excellent reading. According to her, the plot of the novel is set in the late nineteen-century.
The novel portrayed Anne Shirley’s adventures when she was erroneously sent to Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert. Before the arrival of Anne, the foster family had already adopted a boy to help them in cultivation. The house and agriculture farm is in an imaginative town named Avonlea on Prince Edward Island, Canada. The novel has narrated how Anne got admission in the school and also cultivated goodwill within the fictional town. She told me that it is an anthological novel. She also added that there is a television series, and this novel is also taught in schools.
My daughter Maghana Junejo, who is pursuing her bachelor’s in law at Ziauddin University, Karachi is reading John Green’s ‘An Abundance of Katherines’. According to her, she was introduced to John Green’s this book while she read ‘The Fault in Our Stars’. Afterward, she read his books named ‘Looking for Alaska’, ‘Paper Towns’, and ‘Turtles All the Way Down’.
She told that the present novel’s lead character is Colin Singleton, who always thought that he would not be a genius. He met and left the girls, who had a similar name ‘Katherine.’ Finally, Katherine-19 deserted him. He always thought that suddenly there would be a magic moment, and he would become the whole.
Sudharath Junejo, my son, is a student of Class 9th at The Beacon House, Qasimabad. He is also reading ‘Let it Snow’. John Green, Maureen Johson, and Lauren Myracle are authors. The novel is written with an arrangement. It is based on three isolated stories, which connect the main story.
Sudharath told me that titles of these connected stories are ‘The Jubilee Express’ (Maureen Johnson) ‘A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle’ (John Green), and ‘The Patron Saint of Pigs’ (Lauren Myracle). These are stories of different young adults, who experience heavy snowstorms in Gracetown. However, he admired the movie, which is also available with the same title.
It is not true that we at home are only reading books. There is a lot of other house-keeping related works which we complete. Apart from the regular work, the head of the house/Rozina also assigns new tasks. Let me give you an example- today I was tasked to clean the showcase, dinner sets, showpieces and other items. It is true that Rozina also helped me and directed the whole affair.
In addition to that, kids watch their favorite films through YouTube, and other movie channels, Rozina watches one or two prime time aired Pakistani dramas. However, in between reading, writing, and completing the assigned tasks, I occasionally visit Professor Mushtaq Mirani, where Saeen Muban Mangio is also requested to join. At Professor Mushtaq Mirani’s place, we discuss the books, converse about political development and exchange views about different happenings. Nowadays, our regular topic is writings.
Nowadays, some young friends enquire me that what they should read for improving their writing skills. I always tell the young people that there are certain ways – first, there should be a deep desire for writing and second compromise with a lot of other entertaining things in favor of writing, and finally unavoidable is the training for writing. The reading is also fundamental part of the training.
Please allow me to introduce the aspirant writers to read The Writers’ Digest, Guide to Good Writing in the lockdown days. The editors are Thomas Clark, Brue Woods, Peter Blocksom and Angela Terez. I am sharing with you the summarized notes of A. Adolphe Roberts’ article ‘Why I rejected Ten Thousand Manuscripts’. It is one of the articles in the above-mentioned book. Roberts has told that he rejected the article: if submitted article NOT entertains the readers, NOT makes happy the publisher and owner Or NOT upholds the magazine’s image. However, he accepted the manuscript, if it is ADDRESSED to the editor, the author is RECOGNIZED, manuscript MATCHES with the magazine’s policy, the author has NOT REPEATED the theme, the WORD COUNT falls in between five thousand to ten thousand words, characters are STRONG in the story, NO theorization, and article ENDORSES the overall policy of the magazine.
P.S. My notes tell me that I had issued that book from the University of Malaya’s Library, and read it in Library’s 24-Hour Section, which remains open for 24 hours. I started the reading at 6:00 am and continued till midnight. The next day I started writing notes at 7:15 am and finished at 6:24 pm. And in between, I didn’t leave my seat, and never went out for lunch, only I had a cup of coffee, and went to the toilet once or twice.
(Zaffar Junejo, Ph.D. Scholar, Department of History, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur – The areas of interest: Peasants’ Studies, Social History, Cultural History, Colonial and Post-Colonial Periods)
For author’s previous blog click on Sindh Courier