Monday, April 04, 2016 KELS 0 Comments Category :

(A review of the KELS English Meet by Amir Sulman)

On 28 of March about three dozen students altered their paths and directed themselves towards the Patiala to attend the KELS (English) Literary Meet. Being the first event to kick off the Literary year, it was also the first ever event of its kind in the history of KEMU. Undoubtedly, it attracted bibliophiles out of their warm and comfortable corners and other less sociable people to rally at some peripherally common agenda.

Though theme oriented around tragedy, at some level it fell short of defining "Tragedy"; the theme for this month which evoked various tragic enlightenments and generated comical confessions on the part of attendees. Notable mentions were Dr. Syed Asghar Naqi, the staff president for KELS who charmed the crowd with his witty poetry and Dr. Ali Hashmi, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, both of whom popped in for a quick look and loosened the unsettling tension among the first timers, unsure of the procession.

The highlight of the Meet remained to be Russian Literature, the likes of Nabokov and Dostoevsky. "The meet brought bookworms out of their tiny holes and what's really surprising was the number of people who have actually read and love Russian literature. I (personally) did not see that coming." Said Sania Mumtaz Tahir, one of the attendees and the Executive authority for KELS cabinet this year.

Amongst the 30 or so books which were discussed notable mentions remain to be 'To Kill a Mockingbird' by Harper Lee, 'Our Lady of Alice Bhatti' by Mohammed Hanif, 'In Other Rooms Other Wonders' by Danial Muhayuddin and 'Lolita' by Vladimir Nabokov. As usual, books like the 'Great Gatsby' by Fitzgerald and 'My Sister's Keeper' by Jodi Picoult were able to steal some spotlight for themselves too but were woefully sidetracked by their Hollywood affairs which clouded the perception of some readers and the perspective of others. Kamila Shamsie's 'Burnt Shadows' was also successful in sparking some controversy as to what the title refers to. Bizarre, as they sounded, all were surprising palatable for those who understand the subtle art of unleashing tragedy undercover of beautiful and profound prose that keeps the reader glued to the book.

"It's been the first experience of its kind, learning how similarly or differently our minds work. Thoroughly enjoyed all the healthy debate and took home a lot of changed perspective." Said Romesa Qaiser Khan, the Assistant Joint Secretary for KELS. As for some speakers the voice merely carried as a whisper while others were subdued at times by the overly zealous crowd. Where the debate broached newer horizons for discussion, it became a little cumbersome to carry the voice over the ruckus of the crowd. It was apparent that the readers were capable of standing up for their words be it based on practised research or preconceived notions. Talk about giving the debaters a run for their money!

The conversation took twists and turns as to what Tragedy is and what attracts a certain reader towards a particular writer. With refined humour and subtle innuendos about extra-marital affairs and fidelity it evoked a desire to read certain writers which the readers might not have considered worthy enough to earn a place among their prized books on the self. One notable mention was 'Moth Smoke' by Mohsin Hamid. Although more comic than tragic it nevertheless stood out by touching on the realities of life and why we should worry about our own Karma.

Besides being a little acoustically disadvantaged and unfavourable seating arrangements the atmosphere was extremely light and delightful. Everybody seemed to be thoroughly enjoying themselves, yet it failed to exclude a certain tang of formality which was present as a shadow of a silent unwelcome guest! In short there wasn't much to complain about.

"Considering my expectations, KELS Meet turned out to be an unqualified success. It was very encouraging to see participants talk candidly about their favourite books. We really hope we can build on this in the coming meets and make it even more fulfilling experience for all involved." Said the President KELS 2016, Arsalan Ahmed Khan. The concept of the meet felt not only to bring people out but innovation and fun to the Literary society. Transpiring throughout the gathering was the sense that whether well-read or not, everyone can find a place for themselves among the ranks of KELS. Be it the the likes of aspiring writers or melodramatic poets looking for a respite from tiresome grind of surgical ward rotations, people were able to shed their skins and participate in this organised crime with all impunity and bravado, bringing the nerd out.

Regardless of the individual opinion, the Meet was able to hit the mark. Ofttimes, experimental events like these usually result in extremes of success spectrum, thankfully it didn't come to that. Thus it would be fair to say that a new milestone has been achieved in the KELS (English) history and the slow trudge of the nerd-wagon is beginning to gain some speed. It is, however, still a long way to go. Hopefully, this Meets has the potential to turn into a bibliomaniac rite and build a following of devotees who will turn up with religious enthusiasm at the slightest calling.

Despite, the shortage of time which lead to a hush and a few venue and seating arrangements and not to forget the entire class-presentation vibe, it is definitely something to look up to in the coming months. If the Literary Meets continue to evolve in such fashion, such tenuous glitches although frustrating are almost forgivable.

Some of the books discussed in the Meet with their e-book links: