Mahmood Farooqui’s tryst with literature and books in prison

The most difficult thing for a person is to live in a confined place, when he has all the world to walk around. And yet some of us often land in such situation, intentionally or accidentally. The story of Mahmood Farooqui, a well-known writer and film director is no different.

  Here is The story of Mahmood Farooqui

Mahmood Faroqui

It was not easy for an artist, who was associated with a form of story-telling known as Dastangoi, spend months in a store-sized room. He had to serve his sentence, without interacting with his nears and dear ones. There was no option, but to find a way out. For a terrified man, who was down and out, getting hold of anything was as good as gold. Talking about the problems he had faced, he said that his love for the art compelled him to ask for nothing more than ‘books’, the best thing he could’ve asked for.

Farooqui believed that the ‘books’ could get him through that hell. He had made the right choice, but it wasn’t that easy to get hold of his much needed companions. He was offered religious books, but that’s not what he was looking for. He would read them, but without affection. The first time he saw someone holding a book and a pen, he was curious. On the other hand, he wasn’t sure if he could get them too. But, the very next day, he was overjoyed!

The feeling that he could record his thoughts, his impressions, his fears, got him excited. He got a copy and a pen, to recount every humiliation, every fear and every insult that came his way. But, the wish to get some books was still not granted. All he wanted to read was humanistic epics, Dickens, Tolstoy and Chekhow just to take him through that tough time. After a week filled with stress, disappointment and anger, he was accompanied to the jail library.

This was the first time that the reality exceeded the expectations of Mahmood Farooqui during that period. He could see a large room with a number of rows that contained numerous Urdu, Hindi and English books. He could read all those books on a chair with a table to lean his hands on. It was not an ordinary feat, it was an incredible achievement to get such a place, for a man who respects, loves and admires the art. A catalogue with books on agriculture, history, economics and environment felt like an entirely different world to him. He had got hold of something huge to support him, when he needed it the most.

There were books of famous writers and poets like Saadat Hasan Manto, Krishnan Chander, Hyder, Mohammad Iqbal, etc. It felt like he was in a safe zone, in the comfort of books. The feeling of being civilized again, the feeling of discovering gems from the classic collection, the feeling of storing treasure was something that kept him in good stead.

Although it wasn’t possible to reach to the library every day, but the hope of reaching there was more than enough. Akbar and his India, The Indian Response to European Technology, Urdu, Hindi and Punjabi classics were enough to spring life in the lost soul of Mahmood Farooqui, who is often recognized for specializing in Dastangoi. Getting his hands on Dubliners, The Confederacy of Dunces, Mills & Boon, Secret Seven in the most distressed place was nothing short of a miracle for him.

Mahmood Farooqui wasn’t the first one or the last one to understand the importance of books. There were other people who did sole searching and got in love with books, especially in a place like prison. But, for a person who admired the art before, his quality of discovery only got bigger and better in a confined place. He knew he could learn from the books, but now he realizes that he can get through the difficult stints in life.

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Parul Kakkar
About Parul Kakkar (122 Articles)
Parul Kakkar is a self-identified fashion addict, who followed her passion and pursued mass communication from the Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC), Delhi. She has an impeccable sense of exploration on fashion and lifestyle. Each of her blogs depict her understanding on the subject, which she incorporates in all her write-ups. The versatile cosmopolite also follows Bollywood closely. With her sheer expertise, she nails it every time by expressing what the readers want to read.

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