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Don’t ask political questions, said Orhan Pamuk – by Aamir Hussaini



It was a shining day, when I reached Alhumra Arts Council Lahore. Opening ceremony of Lahore Literary Festival-LLF has been ended and Session on ‘My Name is Red’ a novel written by Turkish author had been started.

I entered hall no 1 of the Council and sat in a seat of the backrows. And remained there till end of the session.

Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk came out from hall no 1 of Alhumra Arts Council Lahore, guarded by some officials, I came forwarded and hand-shaked with him, after that our one-self should have been made this time although I didn’t like your avoiding from facing questions related with current Turkish politics particularly those questions which directly were related to Turkey’s interventionist policies in other countries like Syria and Libya. He smiled but uttered nothing.

One guy told me that he had met him at the entrance, where he asked him whether he knew Huma Anwar, where is books stall of Jamhori Publication.Pamuk revealed that neither publisher nor translator contacted to him to get permission of Urdu translations of his novel but he was happy over this despite of unprofessional attitude of the publisher. Pamuk even knew that translator Huma Anwar had translated his recently published new novel. He wanted to meet her.

Huma Anwar’s translations are good, although we see some criticism from some corners but from those corners we never saw ‘better’ or ‘best’ version of translation. I know well Publisher has not good reputation of paying well to translators and some times makes false claims of getting translating and publishing rights from authors but through Huma Anwar’s translations of Pamuk’s fiction, many Urdu-readers in Pakistan are now aware of Pamuk’s work.

‘My Name is Red’, ‘Snow’ and ‘The Museum of Innocence’ have been translated by Huma Anwar.

And a very good and successful Urdu translation of ‘The White Castle’ was work of late Dr. Umar Memon. There are some interviews and articles written by Pamuk have been translated into Urdu in literary magazines and on Social media.

So we can say that Orhan Pamuk is not a strange writer in our Urdu and English readers but he has larger circles of his fans of every age.

I like him.

Ahmad Rasheed, a very popular, commercial liberal journalist was moderator of the session on Pamuk’s novel ‘My Name is Red’ and in my thought he was not good choice but bad selection for this job in the session. He proved his selection wrong, when he put a question in front of Pamuk, while saying that Pamuk has obsession of colors. Pamuk objected over usage of the word ‘ Obsession’ during making a commentary on his literary work.

“Obsessed is negative, I love’

” I am not obsessed but I love colors.” that was the reply of Pamuk.

After discussion, house was opened for Questions and Answers but before taking questions, Pamuk showed some arrogance, when he had categorically refused to take the questions about politics of AKP, interventionist role of Turkey in Syria, Iraq and other countries.

He admitted that Turkey had not near to ideal democracy, he saw narrowing the scope of freedom of speech, right to protests.

He says that his contemporary fiction writers focus much on current social and political events and make claim that they have this or that theme of the story but he sees the situation and gets out his theme of the next short story or Novel.

Despite souless questions put by the journalist from approver group aka London Group against the Baloch guerilla fighters of 74, Pamuk forced the audienc to laugh loudly and clapping through his humorous style and gestures.

Mostly audiences were from Lahore’s urban chattering clase and some were those who are under influence of these Urban Chattering class.

Prices of food items and drinks available were very high, persons from humble background like me can’t afford to buy them. That was the reason when fiction writer Adam Sher met me there, I couldn’t offer tea or soft drinks but he bought three cups of tea for him and other friends and one regular bottle of Fanta for me from Alhumra’s Canteen where prices were very low.