The place is full of gangs, kidnappings, parricides, rapes, murders, you name it. So when someone says Islamic revolution, it brings to mind something terribly organised. But nothing as organised as that can come out of this chaos. Islam hides the real picture; it has always done that here.
That’s Aatish Taseer writing about the surrealism of Pakistan in his latest book Noon. Actually to be precise, that’s a fictional character named Isphandiyar Tabassum talking to his half-brother Rehan about life in a country called La Mirage. Noon is a novel but in Aatish Taseer’s work, the lines between fiction and non-fiction, novel and memoir can appear blurry. They just got even blurrier last week, when his own half brother Shahbaz, the son of the assassinated Punjab governor Salman Taseer, was kidnapped at gunpoint in Lahore.
Here are some excerpts from Taseer’s conversation with Firstpost.com’s Sandip Roy at the book launch for Noon in Kolkata.
Read an excerpt from Noon here.
“It’s as far away from the Freedom at Midnight moment as you can get.” Listen to Aatish Taseer explain why he chose Noon as the title of his book.
Why did you want to write about violence?
I think that I was interested in the effect of it. In the burglary part of the book what comes out is a casual violence acting on you where an individual without meaning to, is compromised, is forced to bend. In Pakistan I felt it very acutely. It almost started to feel very far apart from the jihadi or Islamic violence, a much broader, more general kind of violence. It was almost like a society that had seen a trauma, a society like Cambodia or Kashmir where people had absorbed too much.
But in Cambodia the Killing Fields had a beginning and an ending.. How much harder is it in Pakistan?
It is much harder to trace back to the point where you went wrong. I have always felt in Iran that if the regime were to fall Iran would still be Iran and they would be able to realise what had happened. In Pakistan with every decade it seems to get worse. So it’s hard to figure out how it can return to itself, how it can recognise the point where it went wrong.
You write while people obsess about jihadist violence, what is more pervasive is a secular violence.
I wanted to because that Western story has come out of this experience of Islamic terrorism and that has become their only interest. A lot of stories in Pakistan had been effaced. There was a fight between the old Sufistic religion of Punjab and Sindh and a new energised Islam that was very different and foreign. There is this situation of a society where there is a much broader sweep of violence. That goes into the background and you only hear about suicide bombings and Islamic takeover.
“You want to come back to the place that is your home and remain as you are and not be diminished by that return.”Listen to Aatish Taseer talk about why he wanted to write about violence.
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