The first time I met Matthew Vaughan was at the PANA meeting mentioned here. He was reading out from his upcoming book, Notes from the Sacred Land. It was charming, based on his experiences in Pakistan. The article about his taxi ride was quite hilarious and so typical of life in Pakistan. Next I knew, he had published the book through Mr. Books. (The publishers in UK had refused, believing that a positive image of Pakistan, doesn’t sell.
(So, unmasking terrorism or women’s oppression in Pakistan is still the ‘good’ stuff!)
I looked up YouTube and found this beautiful video on Matthew Vaughan here. His wife too, has spent a lot of her life in Pakistan, the couple with their four children, have loved living here. Sadly, they shall be leaving Islamabad soon. Last year on February 28th 2017 I went to attend his session at the Lahore Literary Festival here. He had been invited to speak on his book, Notes of Sacred Land.
Matt called me a couple of weeks ago, wanting to gift me with his set of Holy Quran, by Maulana Modudi, he wanted to drop the collection at my place. So, I asked him if he would like to introduce his latest book to my friends. He said that would be fine. So, I quickly arranged a writer’s meet up at my studio.
On Sunday, January 20th 2019, at 3.00 pm sharp my friends and Matt were at my studio. We, of course started with Matthew reading to us from his latest book, ‘Land of beauty, land of pain, ’ here.
Then he was joined by other members reading in English, Urdu, Punjabi and French. We all listened to each other and shared why we were enjoying the thoughts of great thinkers of our times. Later on Matt said, he has shared Iqbal’s verses in his book too!
Shagufta read her Punjabi poetry, which she had composed yesterday, you can see it here. Khalida Babri, wife of the famous Laeeq Babri, read out translations by her husband who was an expert in French language. He translated Bulle Shah, Iqbal and Faiz to French, and he translated French writers and poets’ work into Urdu and Punjabi. Khalida is reading a translation of a poem in Urdu by Charles Pierre Baudelaire, (1821 to 1867) , here. A while later, Matthew found the original which was then read out by Nathalene! It went something like this:
Nathalene Reynolds read out passages in French. Then Shagufta Zafar read out Laeeq Babree’s Punjabi poem which he had written while living in Paris, it is obvious, he was missing his homeland Pakistan. You can watch its video here.
Shabnam Riaz has this beautiful British accent and we loved listening to her reading her own poems, one of them about A Tree, here.
Then it was time for me to share some English translations by M. Hadi Husain in my publication of his book called Tulip of Sinai here.
As I read, I sat next to Major Aminullah, the writer of the Unsung Pakhtoon Heroes. He entertained everyone with his anecdotes. We had a scientist with us as well as Nigar Nazar the cartoonist. Her name is in the World Guinness Book of Records, as the first Muslim cartoonist. Her character Gogi is famous. She has written many books for children.
Naila Jabeen, my friend and co-editor of Allama Iqbal’s Tulip of Sinai, as well as the soon to be published, Message from the East, was there too. Khalida had brought with her a young man named Zia who is building a health complex in Islamabad, and wants to write in Urdu.
You can see Khalida reading Urdu translation of Bodeliaire here.
So, it was a beautiful evening. You will find many videos and pictures in my Instagram account of that evening. I’ve shared a few here too.
You will find more on my Shireen’s Studio Facebook page also.
Everyone knows that my programs are strictly on time, and late comers are also welcomed. So, the program started and finished on time. Of course, some enthusiasts happily stayed for over an hour!
It has always been a dream of mine to gather writers together, so we can be inspired by each other, and be able to face our hurdles together. To be able to support each other and take this beautiful journey together.
We all love entertaining. Lets do it with some added enrichment too. Holding meetings and gatherings which are intellectually and emotional soothing, is the need of the hour. We are enriched by such beautiful literature and with so much enlightenment; We have a heritage of Baitbazi Let’s treasure these. It isn’t possible to try to understand the thoughts and values of Bulle Shah or Sartre or Boudeliare, and not be affected by them. Learning about different cultures and literature makes one realize how many similarities there are between us. Such meetings open one’s mind and we realize we are just a speck in this beautiful universe, with a bond of living in the same time-space. Let us cherish and value the similarities and differences within our different cultures and languages.
I’d specially ask young readers to have such gatherings, and invite others to share their experiences too.
Special note: If you know nothing about literature or books, then more reason to attend these gatherings!
Stay blessed, my dear readers.