Lit’Talks | 06 | Stories of South Punjab

In episode of Lit’Talks, Daastan in collaboration with KhudKaar is bringing you stories all the way from South Punjab. Our guest speakers for this live session are published South Punjab authors. Today we’ll be learning about their literary journey and notions regarding literature.

Authors from South Punjab 

The speakers for today are individuals with an innate ability to help the society with the power of pen. So, without further delay, let’s introduce you to them.

Ali Sheikh is an author, a motivational speaker and a lecturer from Lahore. Currently, Ali is studying architecture and design studies at the University of Liverpool. Ali feels deeply about the societal issues. In addition to that, Ali is a film maker, who is using art to create a positive impact.

“I intend to become the voice of those repressed by the years of patriarchy and immoral cultural practices.”

Furthermore, Ali’s debut book Thousands of Desires, explores the circumstances surrounding transgenders in our society. Apart from that, the book also addresses coming of age issues, grief, love and death.

South Punjab
Thousands of Desires by Ali Sheikh

Our second speaker for the day is a Content Marketer from Lahore. Her name is Sijdah Hussain. Sijdah is also an author and a social activist for children and animal rights. Red Sugar No More is her debut poetry and prose collection. It deals with one’s inner journey of transformation from denial to acceptance and negative self-talk to healing.

South Punjab
Red Sugar, No More (via @caffeinated.rant.of.a.bookaholic)

Importance of Literature 

It is a widely known proverb that art imitates life. Literature is one such branch of art. Therefore, it constitutes a major part of a society. Sijdah and Ali gave their insight on the importance of literature in a society.

According to Ali, literature is the spine of any society. For it makes people aware of their roots and one cannot move forward in life without history. He also believes that some philosophies are important to consider when treading through life. Without them, one’s morals can become really conflicted. In addition to that, he is of the opinion that literature nurtures generations and offers a pretty decent escape from reality too. 

Impact of Literature on Youth

Moving forward, we asked our speakers, how do they feel about the impact of literature on youth.

From Sijdah’s perspective, literature impacts everyone and not just youth.

“Even though literature impacts everyone, but young minds are more vulnerable to it. Literature mends and shapes the mind and also contributes to one’s emotional intelligence. Therefore, there should be a check and balance in what kind of literature is being fed to young minds.” 

Contrary to the popular opinion regarding censorship, Ali believes that the responsibility falls on parents to raise socially responsible individuals and on the entertainment distributors to keep in check what do they stream on their platforms. Ali also talked about his upcoming film as an example to probe this matter. His film is based on the slogan “Mera Jism Meri Marzi”. He says, 

“People often villainise this slogan. But it is in fact about celebrating the no to physical, emotional and sexual abuse.” 

Despite having different notions regarding censorship, our speakers agree that mishandling of sensitive topics through any medium of art can promote unhealthy thinking patterns in the youth.

Promoting the Literature of South Punjab 

Punjab has a centuries old tradition of storytelling. There have been many eminent writers and poets from Punjab. Their work continues to be a source of inspiration and entertainment for people. Let’s find out what are our speakers’ suggestions for the promotion of South Punjab’s literature.

Sijdah Hussain
Sijdah Hussain on promotion of South Punjab Literature

Sijdah also hinted towards promoting literature through cross translations. Cross translations can offer an exchange of perspective and narrative through literature. However, there are limitations to this idea. For instance, Sijdah shared with us that how the works of Mawlana Rumi have been misinterpreted and stripped off their Islamic essence in the West. Hence, while translating any work, this aspect should be kept in mind.

South Punjab
Ali Sheikh on promotion of South Punjab Literature

Message to the Audience 

At the end of the session, Ali and Sijdah shared their message with the audience emphasising on the importance of sharing one’s story with the world.

“At times we feel our stories are not worth sharing. But there’s no way to find that out, unless we try. If I can publish, so can you.” – Sijdah Hussain 

Continuing on the topic of sharing one’s story Ali remarks, “Share your story, get it out there. If you can’t write it, tell it to people. But make sure whatever you do, you get it out in the world. You may not know but your story can help people.”

So, what are you waiting for! Now you’ve heard from the best, share your story with the world. It’s worth telling.

Noor Hashmi
Noor Hashmi is a student of literature at Numl University. She is an aspiring poetess. She runs a blog by the name of “Diaries of Huda” sharing her journey through poetry. In her free time, she loves to paint and bake.

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