Manto: Real or Virtual?
Manto writes in his letter to Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi:
“Life should be portrayed as it is, and not in its ideal, past, future form.”
It is not easy to agree with quotation. Neither it is easy to decide, what should happen and what shouldn’t, because life is never seen in black and white. Vision manifests several angles of a thing and despite being interconnected; every angle is different from each other. We never accept the truth that we are not capable enough to see all the angles of anything in this world. The dimensions which are unseen are part of our subconscious. They also have their existence and they are pretty much complete without having any dimensions. So, insisting on having a dimension is so far not justified. In the quotation of Manto, an Ideal condition seems to take place. His insistence on ‘should’ is nothing but a manifestation of a new ideal condition where life is synonym to variations. Artist is free to feel and experience the life on its own terms. A painter uses the color according to its own imagination and choice. The writer has its own priorities and the readers too set its own priorities after going through the text. The kernel of this discussion is that insistence on an ideal condition is not possible in creative world.
Manto wrote stories on its own terms and was having its own priorities in observations of life. It was the critique who stuck in his statement that life should be depicted as it is, neither as it was nor as it will be. Was there any other stronger aspect for realist Manto? It influenced the determination of his style too. Before the critics, Manto‘s realism surpassed the creativity and in Manto studies, thought suppressed the art and finally theme becomes more attractive than the thought itself. Specification of themes manifested a hypothesis that Manto is realist. Not only realist, but a harsh realist! This superficial identity of Manto needs not only the attention but also a detailed discussion on it. Just social, political, economic and sexual realism like titles cannot feed the scholastic appetite of this topic. Providing strong logical support to the topic by feeling its depth is tougher than just carving a title.
The term ‘realism’ has always been the most slippery ground of Manto Criticism. Are realist expression and simple writing the same thing? Is reality limited to the experiences of writer and the happenings around him? Can we say that reality is confined to appearance? If it is true, and everything having an appearance is real, then God is the biggest lie on earth. Manto‘s reality is not too simple to give access to everyone and anyone. His reality surprises us and compels us to stop and think. Text with these characteristics cannot be termed as ‘simple’ easily. Anyone with rational approach cannot deny the fact that the realism of Manto is different from the realism of Prem Chand or Dipti Nazir Ahmad. The spark we witness in Manto‘s thought and style is unprecedented. Reality is not organic. It keeps changing in its parameters. The external reality in Manto is always discussed but the internal reality containing storms of reality is unnoticed in almost every study. Because, passion, feeling, sensation, ecstasy, imagination, they all are different forms of reality. He has a broad canvas of reality which covers everything from logic to imagination and he utilizes his entire nervous system to dig reality out of every piece of life. His political, social and sexual reality was more in light than his sensual reality. Mohammad Hasan Askari has rightly said that the reality of artist is different from the reality politics and economics. For artist the sensual reality is biggest reality and an art will become insignificant by ignoring this fact.
Photo Credit: Debarshi Sarkar