Tuesday, February 16, 2016

L'Esprit de l'Escalier / Moazzam Sheikh

If you ask me to pick 3 top writers of South Asian origin in North America: I will put in descending order: Rohinton Mistry, Jhumpa Lahiri and Moazzam Sheikh.

Unfortunately, Moazzam sahab remained interested in teaching and translation, and never went beyond short stories. He has been mentioned as Woody Allen of South Asian genre but I feel he is more like a Saadat Hasan Manto of second generation Desi-Americans. I wish someday he writes proper full blown novel.

He carries a sharpness of dagger in his sentences and usually at the end of the story leave a lot to readers' imaginations. Let me write one line from his short story "Invisible Strands" - "..he couldn't like a nation (germany) that lost 2 wars in a row..".

But his story "L'Esprit de l'Escalier" is so far the best work I read. It is a story of a young man who is left emotionally weak due to abusive father and possessive mother. It is a story of a kid who cannot establish assertive relationship due to psychological traumas. Let me-write lines from story that may convey the depth of his writing:

"...Regardless of what mother said about you, you being a dirty old man, a skirt chaser, a wife-beater, a son-beater, I knew there was another you buried in you, half dead, half alive, and I kept searching for that half-alive you, in you, but you tried your best to not bring him along. You hobbled without a shadow. I knew you were going crazy, suffering from some kind of chemical imbalance that most men in this world suffer from. And do you remember ? You liked to put on your father's ties you had saved for so long ? You liked them so much. You told me I could have them when I grew up. But I didn't want those ties. You cursed mother out of habit and chemical imbalance. I wanted to break the cycle. Although I don't have your ties, I am not so sure I have been able to break the cycle. Partially, I have become like you, incapable of being happy, and partially like mother, unable to pull myself out of depression, unable to stop eating  and eating, bloating, drawing a blank."

(Related post: A quote)

* L'esprit de l'escalier is a French term for the predicament of thinking of the perfect reply too late.


mehnaz said...

What a beautiful term for such a futile feeling, reminds me of Munir Niazi's poem Hamesha der kar deta hun main

mehnaz said...
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