"Studying Arts? Haw Haye!"
By Noor Jamshed Khan
The subcontinent is a macrocosm shrouded in mysticism, spiritualism and bountiful springs of creativity. Surprisingly, we stand on the Earth that has witnessed a tsunami of cultures, languages, history and arts! Regardless of our blind eyes; those of us who reside within the blankets of our mother land, are aware of the traditional beauty which flows within the loose Earth which is in a constant battle for dominance against war, technological advancement and the impeachment created by ignorant figures who are far too focused on the corruption caused by a crusade that is far ancient than their own bones.
As the daughter of a proud military father and an educated mother, I too have been a target when choosing to dedicate my life to the Arts.
“Aagey kya karo gee?”
“Log kya kahein gei? Koi shaadi nahi kare ga tumsei?”
“Yei amreeki khayalat yahan nahi chalte. Zyada gori bannei kee koshish mat kar!”
”Tumhara moun zyada tou nahi chalna shuru hogya? Bas yei jo tum arts parh rahi ho na, sar par charh raha hai.”
“Aap kya ghar kei deewar bhi paint kar sakti hain?”
Despite all these claims on my character, I was determined and consistent for my future. According to the philosophies of our revered poet and philosopher Allama Muhammad Iqbal, Khudi! Khudi my friends goes beyond self-preservation! How many times have you heard a hippie friend go on about ‘look deep within yourself to find yourself!’ as much as it makes no sense, there is a sliver of truth to it. As a fine artist, who are rumoured to be manual labourers (a bit of truth in there as well, I won’t deny), will it be surprising for you to learn that I also dabbled a lot in philosophy, research writing, poetry and other fields of advanced literature? I take what I have learned as tools to look within my faults, pinpoint them, recognise them thus, establishing the principle of Khudi that our dear Allama speaks of. I look past the sticks and stones, past the sour expressions of disappointed rishta aunties to something more meaningful…..
Like any other passionate scholar, educator or artist! Each step begins with a bit of ridicule, its natural!
Don’t be afraid or ashamed when somebody, who doesn’t even know the definition and the history behind, the chiaroscuro light or the famous murti (statuette) of Venus of Willendorf attempts to derail you from your ambition. These kind of people would only distinguish a naked, fat lady who has a chubby face and no arms! They are unable to think behind the tangible form or even recognise that the Venus represented fertility and the divine feminine! How this travel sized statuette changed the lives of our ancestors and we, as the next generation, can only spit at something that has held within its tiny clay form prayers and wishes of so many people who have passed away with time.
Understand that people, especially those of our culture, are afraid of change.
Whether be a house, a family or even something as simple as a pet! We tend to see change as a form of coup d’etat to our daily routine and rituals therefore, can you imagine being asked to change your entire life or even your thinking for something not worth your time?
Your ancestors has followed a consistent pattern for centuries. It has prevailed due to this circle within which your blood has been confined within. It’s safe. It has assured a happy and prosperous life for generations! Until one rivulet decides to trickle out of this boundary much to the chagrin of aunties, mamoos and naanis. My dear readers, I speak on the behalf of that drop of blood that has dared to flow out of that boundary, it is ok!
Things are hard at first for sure but you will get used to the, presumably subtle, kannakhio kee glare (peripheral glare) or the sarcastic quips aimed at the lack of your IQ for something as grand as MBA that your cousin has done from Cambridge or Harvard. (But we all know that your phuppo is making that on the go but you let it slide since you are far too tired of comparisons at this point, am I right?)
I have no rights to guide your thinking or hold your hand, I am just a simple human being who can pat you on the back and tell you of my truthful experience so you may be assured that your choices are yours alone to make.
Nobody is responsible for you but yourself my friend therefore, why allow someone else to make that choice for you?
It’s not like your khala will be your first patient if you are a struggling doctor who is afraid of blood. Or your father has forced you to become a businessman when he doesn’t have a clue of your anxieties when facing the corporate environment. When you make your own choice, you are at peace with yourself, you know why?
Because YOU as an independent individual has made that decision thus, are responsible for it. Therefore you cannot complain about your daily woes to someone who doesn’t understand your plights in the first place but hey! You will find new friends that do understand you. Or are willing to help you in achieving that goal when the ones whom you have lived with your whole life did not even attempt to understand you.
Now now, don’t go rebelling in your young adult life because I have said that.
My dear readers! Be elegant, mature and mindful when making your own decisions. Be the bigger person when the other barks at you. I say that as someone who has graduated from an Art university because we thrive on human nature, we are the word renaissance personified because we wish to refresh and remind the world of true human nature.
It’s okay to show emotion. It’s okay to love someone. And it’s certainly fine to laugh aloud in public! (Just don’t be that one expressive human being who sits in the theatre and annoys everyone else, yeah?) As artists, we are human beings first. Knowledge is something that we take for granted, it’s something more than rattafying those physics kei numerical or practicing our beautiful handwriting so we can become that one kid who asks for that extra sheet during exams!
Knowledge is something beautiful, something that permeates within our extra and peripersonal space which we are so blind towards! Art has allowed me the space and the power to attempt to breach that veil…..attempt to question that metaphysical reality that many of our Muslim scholars had wished to question. It’s a never ending cycle of answering rising queries which is honourable and not haram in any sense!
Finally - Remember that the first Surah of the Quran is Iqra.