27 June 2013

Shame


Shame - the masterpiece of a master storyteller. I have read some Rushdie in past and every book has been an eye opener. Though his form of writing is technically called - Magical Realism. For me it’s pure and simple magical mythical storytelling. The way he writes is how ancient history is called as mythology. He picks up historical situations whether India's partition in 'Midnight's children, Kashmir extremism in 'Shalimar - the Clown, or Pakistan's politics in 'Shame' and the characters turn into mythological creatures walking the earth and changing it with their hidden powers of information, manipulation, wills and whims. The state leaders are no less than mythological Devils with their evil desires. But there is no goodness in his books, all the characters are evil, there is no happy ending, there is no moral lesson, there is no hope or joy. Life goes on as a torturous grind.

Shame - is based on political state of Pakistan in 60-70s with Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Zia-ul-Haq tug of war. The landlords, military power, Pakistan- Bangladesh Split, One unit policy, Baluchistan conflict, dictators and corrupt politicians, daughters as heirs, and everything which shaped history and Pakistan. He takes all these ingredients and weaves in that how 'SHAME' (Haya in Urdu) becomes the root cause of violence - insults, failures, rejections, lust, power, all roads led to Shame and this one road led to violence. The mass murders, backstabbing, killings, everything in the name of Shame. Shame is the most dangerous emotion, even more than fear and anger which too arise post Shame and lose of honor. And being shameless in a shameful society is nothing but an act of Shame. 

Quotes from the book:

He tried to find consolation in the fact that, as every hypnotic knows, one of the first reassurances in the hypnotic process, a formula which is repeated many times, runs as follows: 'You will do anything that I ask you to do, but I will ask you to do nothing that you will be unwilling to do.'

This woman's body, it brings a person nothing but babies, pinches and shame.

Something untranslatable, a law which obliged her to pretend that his words meant no more than they said. This law is called takallouf . To unlock a society, look at its untranslatable words. Takallouf is a member of that opaque, world-wide sect of concepts which refuse to travel across linguistic frontiers: it refers to a form of tongue tying formality, a social restraint so extreme as to make it impossible for the victim to express what he or she really means, a species of compulsory irony that insists, for the sake of good form, on being taken literally. When takallouf gets between a husband and a wife, look out.

Separatism is the belief that you are good enough to escape from the clutches of hell.

What is a saint? A saint is a person who suffers in our stead.

A father is a warning; but he is also a lure, a precedent impossible to resist.

Such saint and monster conjunctions are conceivable in the case of men; alas! such is our nature. But the whole essence of Woman denies such a possibility.

But Robespierre and people are virtuous. Danton may be a Hero of the revolution, but he also likes wine, fine clothes, whores; weaknesses which (the audience instantly sees). He gets the chop because he is too fond of pleasure. Epicureanism is subversive. The people distrust fun. This opposition - the epicure against the puritan - is, the play tells is, the true dialect of history. Forget left-right, capitalism-socialism, black-white. Virtue versus vice, ascetic versus bawd, God against the Devil; that's the game. Messieurs, mesdames; faites vos jeux. - Synopsis of the Play terror starring Denton and Robespierre.

These are not laws, my dear fellow, which we have plucked out of the wind. These are the holy words of God, as revealed in sacred texts. Now if they are holy words of God, they cannot be barbaric. It is not possible. They must be some other thing.

She has barricaded herself against the outside world in the hope that it might go away.

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