27 October 2014

Noon: of life

You write what you see, yet tell what you don't! 

This applies to Aatish Taseer's 'Noon' completely. In this book, he beautifully traces his journey from India to America to Pakistan as an audience as well as a participant. His journey from confused and insecure childhood to an adult searching identity and roots, from the corridors of ever changing power house Delhi to a volatile and extremist Port Bin Qasim, from a Hindu/ Sikh upbringing to the Muslim roots. There are gaps but they don't matter as he beautifully explains...

"The gaps in my life were too many, the threads too few. And though I knew this, knew there was little to string life together, the tendency was still to appear as a whole before the world, to let the imagination fill in the spaces that experience had left blank."

I had previously read Aatish's, Manto's short story translation, which was well done, but this novel gives a brilliant picturisation of him as an author. His observations are sensational yet true, oblivious yet deep, close yet far, secret yet public and fiction yet truth. Each character is real, strong and grey - from the servants in his Delhi farmhouse, or royalty in his step father's power struggle, or feudal lords of his real father's extended family and business. I loved the way Aatish went into the backstory of each character rather than staying at the surface or in the moment.

Take it as a compliment when I say Aatish has the renditions of Manto - a bitter man who looks at the world in a bitter way, because there is no other way he knows!

And clearly NOON is the ideal title... the book does what Noon does to you... makes you wonder about the past...

Some grey lines from the book...

Going blindly to college in America from India was an extension of other forms of entitlement, like summer holidays in the west or buying a nice car.

He was the most bendable unbending man I ever knew!

What royalty? An occupying power comes to your country and appoints some local chieftain the king, and two hundred years later once the power has left, we're still saying "Hukum this, Hukum that."

When someone puts forward the cup of friendship, it's not right to spit in it, no matter how bogus the wine might be. 

He is present in my life as an absence, and that if u were only able to fix him in my mind physically, that sense of absence would diminish.

That which is not to be found is what I desire. - Rumy


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