As Urdu writing, speaking, and practicing is on the verge of extinction, one hears of a book launch of Kallo by Samina Nazir. Most of Pakistani littératti are composing their works in English as their first language, from Mohammed Hanif, Mohsin Hamid, Kamila Shamsie, Maki Kureishi, Taufiq Rafat to even Harris Khalique who writes flawlessly in both languages. All of the above are exceptionally articulated.
Samina Nazir’s work stands out in its technique and treatment of ideas. Though it is her first afsaana collection, it seems to be mature, born after a full-term pregnancy. Kallo has been nurtured well in the womb and delivered in the best of health.
Samina Nazir takes us back to the future. She takes us on a tour of Hyderabad Dakkan — pre-Partition and post-Partition. She fluently narrates of streets and alleys, food and culture, dialect and everyday routine of the old and young.
Samina doesn’t only narrate her stories, she takes you to the theatre and makes you sit on the VIP seats, where the experience is such that you become the part of centre stage. You become one of the characters’ nuances.
Samina Nazir’s work stands out in its technique and treatment of ideas. Though it is her first afsaana collection, it is mature
The author’s compendious work is based on the mainstream society. People with real issues and resources. Her stories revolve around divas who are pretty much all around us, struggling, sacrificing, homemakers and the brave ones who have cut the suffocating umbilical cord of patriarchy and traditionalism. These female characters are self-aware, worthy of a standing ovation for not ever giving up.
The book is not part of the feminist movement. It is definitely written by a female who has seen the world sitting on her father’s shoulders, peeking out from the duppatta of her mum, through her brother’s eyes, making a home for her husband and kids and mostly being herself. A firsthand experience of what we call society.
Male representation is there of course but only as much as it is in the society. Her heroines are not just pretty, coquettish and boring. Kallo is dark as her name suggests, an opposite of femme fatale. Baji is another example of courage. Bi Amma one of those brave ones who rejected exploitation of staying married just to make others happy.
The stories revolve around women all around us, struggling, sacrificing, homemakers and the brave ones who have cut the umbilical cord of patriarchy
Being a Karachiite I revamped and remapped my knowledge of the city, the political movements, racial identity and ethnicity, and the unbiased history, which overhaul the face of Karachi now known today, as I read along.
Kallo is my first book in Urdu prose in decades.
Storytelling is an art! Samina Nazir is good at it. She does so by sharing stories, sometimes with improvisation, theatrics, or embellishment. Every culture has its own stories or narratives, which should not remain untold.
Samina Nazir is inclusive, she wittingly use colloquial expressions, terms and abuses aptly matching the psychological intricacy of her characters. The postlude is a drama, ‘Lady’s Tailor’, which alludes into epilogue.
Due credit goes to Ms Hoori Noorani, and Maktaba-e-Daniyal Karachi, for taking up this project, and the book launching tours with the writer and editor. I wish the whole team best of luck for this and more future endeavors.