‘Pakistan is a lot more than these negative stories we read’

Muslim Writers Collective organizes open mic session at The Last Word

The Pakistani society is believed to be back on the track of progress. A number of platforms are available today for people, to speak up, express their long suppressed feelings and thoughts. One such session was organized as an open mic sessions The Last Word bookshop at Lahore, by Muslim Writers Collective an organization from USA, where people came forward to spill their bottled up words. The event was co-sponsored by Monina Mindeel of The Missing Slate.

Muslim Writers Collective Co-founder Hamdan Azhar is a Muslim American of Pakistani decentvisiting Pakistan these days; the group has held open mic sessions in USA for the past two years. MWC is a platform were people from all walks of life, cultures, backgrounds and beliefs gather and let the ‘pot’ melt once again.

Speaking to The Nation Hamdan Azhar said, “The main idea behind MWC was to bring people together, share their thoughts, lives and be heard. Media does not give these people a chance to tell their stories, this was made possible by MWC, it has gone across States and educated people about each other’s life.”

About 15 people stepped forward to share their views and feelings on the topic of ‘Rediscovering Home,’ at the MWC open mic session at The Last Word. People spoke about folk tales, memories of their ancestors, family issues, returning home after years and some and recited poems. Such events do not only educate people but also show them an alternate path to life. There were a few elders too attending the event who spoke of their experiences of life and enlightened the youth.

The session was not limited to English but people performed in Punjabi and Urdu as well. Some believe that everything cannot be communicated in a foreign language. Punjabi and Urdu are close to our hearts and it is the best medium to share our anecdotes. Those who have a good voice dare to sing too and get appreciated.

Shahid Ali an elderly gentleman spoke to The Nation and said, “Such events are very important for today’s youth. In our young days we used to sit with our parents and relatives. Everyone had time for each other, the hand held gadgets and such did not intervene and families paid attention to the upbringing of their children. Today’s generation has not seen any of that and that is why these gatherings are important. It is our responsibility to come forward to teach them of their roots or else history, culture and traditions will be lost in the fast of their lives.”

Hamdan Azhar talks about his experience of Pakistan, “I have returned home after six years. Pakistan seems to have moved forward, but the image we get from the media in New York is very negative. The main aim of bringing MWC to Lahore is let people be heard. Pakistanis are a lot more than these negative stories we read in the newspaper; our life battles, stories and such are a very important part of us and the society, which need to be shared so we are able to give others hope who are going through a tough patch.”

Open mic sessions are gaining acceptance in the urban cities as it’s a very healthy activity which helps people to not only socialize but also see different aspects of life. You walk into the store with your own story book and return with about 20 other ‘story books’ based on other’s life experiences.

R Umaima Ahmed

Umaima Ahmed is a member  of staff

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