Everyone loves a good story. Perhaps that is why Musharraf Ali Farooqi's English translations of the stories of the adventures of Amir Hamza and the land of Hoshruba have not only found takers, but revived interest in the dastan tradition.
Speaking about his work at a session
with Syeda Hameed and Zakia Zaheer, Farooqi talked about the challenges of trying to find an expression equivalent to the dastan's language. "Amir Hamza was recited both in courts and bazaars and the qissagohs (story-tellers) switched between different idioms. So I had to find something to match both speeds of narrative."
Zaheer pointed out that in the stories, women were equal to their male counterparts, performing powerful magic and fighting in battles. The world of Amir Hamza is a world of tilism (magic), featuring tricksters, fairies, sorcerers and demons. But in a world of Twitter and TV, what can be done to bring the magic back into stories and story-telling, asked Hameed.
"It's not true that young people don't read. In fact, many people have approached me to turn the book into a cartoon series and graphic novels and an audio book is on its way," replied Farooqi.