English

‘My maiden article’

By M. N. Sulehri
Last year I wrote an article and sent it to the newspaper. I wrote it with full devotion but it was rejected with all journalistic pride. I brushed aside the idea of writing for the newspaper, with the intention of teaching them a lesson for discarding my critique. I thought that they would repent of losing a first-class writer. But they showed a hermit-like indifference to my absence. Then I thought, perhaps their business didn’t allow them to contact me. So, I thought that I should forgive them and spit the anger because a great man never entertains grudge against others.
I pardoned them and sent another article to the newspaper. It was accepted. I made it known to my friends and relatives that next Sunday there would be something special in the paper, but I didn’t clear that it would be my article because suspense sustains interest. Anyhow, one way or the other reality dawned upon them.
On Sunday, I left the bed at 5 a.m. (which irritated the fleas on being deserted three hours before the routine matter) and went to the basin where I found the valve whistling. Then I speculated for a while and concluded that it counts little whether your mouth is washed or not because the real beauty lies within. After that, rubbing my eyes, I reached the newspaper stall, where only a dog was sleeping. I thought it unfair to disturb this innocent creature and sat beside him. Meanwhile, a man with long moustaches came to me pressing a broom under his arm and said, “let us start, today you are late”. I Cried, “Curse upon you, do I look like a sweeper. No gentleman no, I am a humorist and waiting for my article”. He looked at me, uttered nothing, and kicked the sleeping dog with the butt of his brush. The dog shrieked and gave me a sympathetic look as if he were inviting me to follow him because that was not a proper place to rest.
I kept on waiting for the shopkeeper who appeared at 7’ O clock. I had the paper, sat on the foot-path with cross-legged and began to turn the pages. But, by the grace of God, there was no article of mine. That was enough to shatter me, but I remained composed and once again, gave up the idea of writing forever. It took two weeks to make my acquaintances understand that every good article took some time to have space in the paper. But one friend of mine went on cutting jokes on me, whom I tried to appease with the words, “maybe they have called a jury of prominent critics to analyse my article. That’s why it’s late”. But he remained unmoved and all the arguments fell flat on him.
Three weeks passed and I bore the humiliation in every possible way. On the fourth Sunday, my roommate cried, “Hey! Where are you? Here is your article”. I answered with apathy, “Hell with it, don’t nail up old matters”. After some time, I came to the room and picked up the paper with an air of indifference as if I had no concern with it. But it was really there, my article…. my maiden article.
I called for my friends, when they came, I requested them to read it but they refused bluntly. They demanded breakfast first. I hurried towards the nearby shopkeeper, who, unfortunately, is one of my acquaintances, borrowed money from him and arranged for the breakfast. They relished it and sneaked away from my room one by one without reading the poor article. After that, I decided to go to the village because that was a good opportunity to impress the poor village fellows. From the station, I took the coach, occupied my seat and cast a glance over the passenger. This was because I had entertained the idea that everyone in the coach would have the same paper in which my article was published. They would be reading my humorous article with dead seriousness which would result in a peal of laughter. But, even there, the situation was totally reversed. There was only one Urdu newspaper in the van that was divided mercilessly among three passengers.
No sooner did the van start than the people began to nod. The man sitting beside me looked twice or thrice at the paper but didn’t try to have it. I thought, “what a tasteless man he is”. Soon an idea occurred to me. I started to read the article loudly. I read it thrice because I wanted to show them that it had been written by me and I had the right to read it the way I liked. But there was no thrill among the people. They were as cool as cucumber. Finally, the van reached its destination.
I hired a tonga and went to my village, where, first of all, I encountered “Chacha Deno” one of the topmost ignorant men of the village, but an alien person might have taken him for the man with the latest information about the political and economic changes in the country.
I showed him the paper and explained, “I am your nephew and I have written this humour column”. He asked, “what do you mean by humour”. I answered, “Uncle anything that provokes laughter”. He replied with anger, “You devil, India is going to attack us (because my village is only fifteen miles away from the Indian border) and you are writing humour”. With these words, he bent down to pick up his shoes to do what is better left unsaid. But I had to run for my life; otherwise, I would have been given a sound thrashing by “Chacha Deno”.
Unfortunately, there was a coterie of my friends in the street who also, in spite of appreciating my potential began to laugh at me. Then I knocked at the door, singing “East or west, home is best”. Mother opened the door and I embraced her. She kissed my stinking face and half-bald head which forced me to think, “God has bestowed her with Job’s patience”. The thing which I did first was to show her my article. She kissed it too and said, “Oh! What a beautiful handwriting it is. Have you written it?” “No mom, it has been typed by someone else”, I replied. She said turning away her face, “typed by someone else, fie upon you, it means you have been doing the same thing in your exams. And this is the reason you are still unable to secure any job”. I tried to clear away the matter but she silenced me saying, “Shut up! And let your father come home, he will talk to you and see your article too”. “Idiot of the first rank”, she added and turned away leaving me standing there with my maiden article in hand. This is what all the way I got when my first article was published.

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