Duck, Man, Duck
words are god — if we worship by them
words are useless — duck, duck, duck
words are gems — when others swear by them
words are trash — when an argument cannot be dismissed
words are forever — the true word is more durable than diamond
words are words — like oxygen, taken for granted
words are abused — by most writers, poets, speakers
specially by this one:)
The written/spoken word should stand on its own merit.
The almost universal absence of eloquence is stifling in the sub-continent. We have a Canadian Prime Minister, ostensibly bi-lingual, who cannot ask for a glass of water without stumbling. All right, am exaggerating slightly. And then we have the Mians and the Bibis and the Jurnails who cannot articulate in any language of Pakistan, present or extinct.
Words express, emote, soothe, guide, communicate. Pearled together, they effectively transform thoughts and intents.
Eloquence is directly related to brevity. Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib comes to mind. Could it be that my penchant for word usage is related to an appreciation of ghazal? One or several thoughts, in a metered couplet, standing alone, though a part of the whole. Yet, when I have a desire to express my thoughts in verse, they appear in the form of naz'm (poem) rather than ghazal. Dichotomy of a post-Raj generation that was influenced by western language and thought. This last half of my life, I have been playing catch-up. A conscious effort to undo the infantile impressions, sort out the valid ones and substantiate the wealth of literary and religious genii in our collective past.
Why is in-articulation the domain of bazaaris, illiterate mullahs, pseudo intellectuals, political bigots, dhobis, and the beast of burden they ride? Except the latter, all of the former can inarticulate for hours without conveying anything substantial. Capital punishment ought to be diligently re-introduced just for them. Sadly, abortion did not work.
Show me a man swearing and I will tell you much about his background, my Fairfax friend Pervez used to say. We have well defined boundaries for vulgar epithets---office, bazaar, home, with friends, with strangers. The articulate will deliver well chosen slurs in English, Urdu or Punjabi as the occasion demanded. The inarticulate will stick mostly to base, procreative verbal diarrhea involving and invoking close personal relatives in the act.
One mis-step and a trumpet of Israfeel's strength sounds. Alas, not with the same results.
Some of us revel in precision. Well crafted words reinforce ideas and lubricate thinking, merrily whirling us in ecstasy. A criterion I often employ is to express thoughts with the least number of words. 'Hmmmmm,' says M, reading these lines over my shoulder.
Why go to the trouble, you may inquire? Cliches abound. There is a storm raging in mind that needs an outlet. Okay, but why bother you with the results? This I will not even attempt to answer.
Lately there have been occasions, when frustrations caused by others have left me adrift in mid-ocean of trauma. Words that struggle to surface are not socially acceptable to the ethnic South Asian mindset. Their connotative references to procreative activities are not to be verbally expressed in any forum. Hence, duck, man, duck.
(Please do not expect allusions of phallic symbols, exaggerated or diminished, in my forms of expressions. An exception is the epistolary short story Half a Confession which has yet to surface here.
It is my endeavor to promote the duck to symbolize those procreative activities that sometimes offend our collective sensibilities.
Helpless, ducked-out, whirling in mid ocean. Knowing not, and not knowing that knowing not, ducked-up.
Last week, being driven in the company of Abdullah Hussain and Mohammed Umar Memon to a dinner at Zahoor ul Ikhlaque's, discussing similar subjects, I blurted, 'I can't suffer fools,' saying it with an ease and conviction that startled me. Messieurs Hussain and Memon have a constituency out there. Often, they cannot afford to say what is on their mind. And am being realistic, not contemptuous. Life is too short to be riddled with idiots or their whims.
This suffering is directly proportional to sensitivity and inversely to patience.
JFK once declared that if a speech took more than ten minutes to deliver its main theme, it was not worth the effort. And, we have political and religious leaders that go on and on---the duracell wa'az or sermon.
In his prime, my yaar, would daily demand from his Creator opportunities for one square meal, a good book and some sex not necessarily in that order. Now, I can more fully appreciate his urge for a good read.
Ouch, I just spilled hot tea over my lap. Duck, man, duck!
Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien. Applies equally to most politicans today.
Mians: Husbands; also Mian Nawaz Sharif, the democratic dictator precariously perched on a two-legged chair----one leg, the popular mandate the other being the Army.
Bibis: Wives; also Benazir Bhutto aspiring and conspiring for(ever) the chair.
Ghazal: A short Urdu poem, usually of seven couplets. The first couplet is rhyming and is called Matlaa and the last usually with the poet's name or pseudonym is called Qataa.
Bazaaris: People found in the oriental marketplace---shopkeepers, small merchants and shoppers.
Israfeel: As the legend goes the Arch Angel who will sound the trumpet on the day of resurrection.
Yaar: Alter ego
Note: This article was written in 2002