The other day at an informal gathering all of us were discussing books when suddenly the name of Ismat Chugtai came up. Not many had heard her name, leave alone reading her stories. And mind you, I am not talking about complete non-readers here. Many of those in the group claim to be voracious readers having read the likes of Charles Dickens and D H Lawrence. This set me thinking, are your classics dying?
Throughout our school we grow up reading Shakespearean plays as a part of our curriculum rising upto Keats poetries by the time we are in high school. By the time we are adults we know everything we need to know about “thou” and “thee”. Have we ever wondered if we have an Indian version of Keats or Shakespeare? Or for that matter wondered why we Indians grow up on English classics? The answer is an embarrassing no.
No wonder today names like Manto, Kamla Das, Ismat Chugtai, Prem chand don’t ring a bell to many book lovers alike! We are a diversified country with so many languages to boast of added to the fact that each language has had some amazing writers in them. Sadly many of them are still lying undiscovered even as we speak. Our generation stands to lose a lot of knowledge which in itself is scary thought.
Our conservative thinking has got a lot to do with this perhaps, as you notice every second child wants to become a doctor or an engineer, how many answer it as a painter or a mountaineer? We have been conditioned to think like this since childhood. It is a product of human consciousness.
What we forget is that our classics are unique and some pure masterpieces. They deserve to be flaunted as they can be easily called our pride. It comes as a surprise to note the number of Indians who know the Pythagoras theorem was invented by whom! I feel that in itself speaks a lot about our knowledge about our own culture.
Let today be the first step you take towards knowing your own culture. Grab a classic in Indian literature, read it, devour it and spread the word!