Great people become great not only through their work but also by their thoughts, their words, and their actions.
I recently went to the Times Lit Festival to attend Gulzaar Sahab’s reading session.
He read a chapter from the famous Urdu writer – Manto. Listening to him speak was awe-inspiring. He took Manto’s story, translated into the local dialect, and drew us in. As he spoke, all we could do is surrender and listen.
I grew up reading works of Gulzaar Sahab and appreciated his writing but the reading session made me appreciate the man. Gulzaar Sahab is an established writer, a master of words, but he does not have an air of superiority. He is a humble man, who speaks the simple language and has a down to earth attitude. At the reading session, he erased the distance between the audience and himself when he said, ‘main mike ko apne kad par le aaoun’. He created a connection and made him one of us.
During the session, Gulzaar Sahab spoke about the complication of language and how our own perspectives color how we perceive words – spoken and written. He explained this complex thought using a very simple example. He asked a member of the audience to describe the first drawing they ever drew. The reply was a picture with mountains, hut, tree, grass, sunrise, flying birds, and a river. Then he asked him how you would color it?
He said he would paint the sun in grades of yellow, shade the grass with light and dark green, the river yellowish blue, and the house in shades of brown and red.
Gulzaar Sahab smiled and asked, ‘Would all of you make the same color choices?’
With one simple question, he got across the message that we as individuals change the shape, size, and meaning based on our knowledge, skill, and understanding. He taught me that your choice of words, your way of expression can compel a person to believe in them and build a connection.
Thank you Gulzaar Sahab for your inspiring words!