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June 29, 2020

Short stories digging out human psychology

Islamabad

June 29, 2020

Farkhanda Shamim’s book of short stories “Talash-e-Jamal Main Gumshudah Auraat” seems not unrealistic, far-stretched and far-flung. It deals mostly with the disadvantaged segment of the society. Her stories are very close to life and grounded in the complexity of daily life. An entirely different approach is seen in the selection of the subject matter of her stories.

There are no archetypal patterns in her writing. Observant eye is much on display in her stories. Her stories do not necessarily need a very special subject. Just a happening, a fleeting look, a gesture, and a sight can be a fit subject for her to develop a story. She avoids ordinariness of details and situations and churns out a story from an extremely commonplace situation.

In her stories the narration illuminates itself either in the style of diary writing or in the voice of reportage. When necessary, she herself plays the role of a narrator. At times, she puts on the veneer of a sketch writer.

Her stories contain different themes reflecting various social issues particularly of women which vary in the trend of manifestation. Amman ka wa’ada, Ankhoun mein orr rahee hai, Doosry hijrat, Dua and Committee exemplify the estranged woman, the gullible, the divorced, the faithful, and the underprivileged woman.

‘Bistar ki salwatain’, ‘Prinday’, ‘Bila shirkat ghairay’, ‘Sajdayay sahv’, ‘Sar jee’, ‘Seeti’, ‘Amarat’, ‘Kanpti saasoun ki larzish’ and ‘Yaqeenay moalaq’ display diversity in public attitude.

Saira’s narrative in “Talash-e-Jamal Main Gumshudah Auraat” captures the journey of a woman, who escapes the harshness of sarcastic comments on her marital life in quest for a deeper connection with her inner self.

Written in a spur-of-the-moment style, her stories cover seemingly familiar ground — an impolite relationship, woman adrift in the male-dominant society, the snares of fame and money — at such an angle that they demand repeated evaluation.

She is great at drawing readers quickly into the confidence of her voice; the first few sentences of any of her stories have the quality of strapping you in for the ride. Told in a jarringly unhurried tone, her stories draw readers in and leave them diagnostic.

Farkhanda Shamim presents struggles of the individuals, especially of women, with poverty and everyday slights and insults in their surroundings. Her stories open a whole new world before readers.

The spirit of her stories is essentially secular, free from dogmatism and comfortable in expressing bold ideas. The technique of her stories doesn’t appear formulaic. They stay clear of formulaic details and clichéd situations. Especially interesting is the ending of her stories. Surprise ending is one of the many ways to end a story, but she believes it is not the only way to end a story.