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Literature, politics, and resistance

10 14 0

The story by Zaheda Hina, 'Jismo Zaban ki Maut se Pehle' (Before the body dies and the tongue mortifies) starts with a prisoner who has been stuffed in a drum and the drum is being beaten furiously. The prisoner finds himself in a water wheel over a well. The wheel moves rapidly up and down but the well is empty. The wheel stops; the prisoner holds his head in his hands. After a while he thinks and a question springs to his mind. Here Zaheda Hina writes a brilliant line:

“To enquire – ie to question– is a mental pillar on which human beings and humanity stand tall.” She continues, “They have thrown him once again into a cell and now they are jumping with their heavy boots on the roof of the cell. And beneath the floor of the cell from the lower ground they are hitting with batons. The ear-piercing noise is unbearable coming from the ceiling, and thrusting from across the floor. He crumpled himself and tried to cover his ears with his swollen knees.”

Further in the story she writes, “When he gathered some courage to stand on his feet, his shackles jingled. With difficulty he tried to walk, four-steps wide, six-steps long; he had to be careful walking in the darkness, to avoid bumping his head into the wall.”

And then another marvelous line by Zaheda Hina, “By torturing the body, they are trying to shatter his mind.” Further on she writes: “They have moved him from place to place. From one prison to another; from one city to the next. One cell was round like a circle and after spending a few days there he was unable to stand upright. The moment he tried to be on his feet, he felt dizzy. Then there was another cell which was half his height, just like a kennel for dogs. In that cell he had to crawl on all fours, for weeks. After a few steps the walls would block........

© The News on Sunday