Sawdust castles launched
KARACHI: A book titled Sawdust castles written by Omar Khan was launched at the Mohatta Palace Museum on Saturday evening. Mr Khan, who is a former banker, has penned his memoirs in the book. He divides his time between Lahore and Toronto.
S. M. Shahid, who has edited the book, said he was introduced to the author by Pervez Iqbal of the BBCL (which has published the book) a few years back. Then, he said, he interacted with him through the Internet. When Mr Khan came up with the idea of writing the book, he (Shahid) was requested to edit it, he said. The editing of the book, he jokingly remarked, had enabled him to improve his English.
Mr Shahid said the book was the story of the author’s family and their history. He said his family was from the city of Bareli in India, and one of his ancestors founded the Rohailkhand sultanat making Bareli its capital. They fought against the British but after the 1857 war, the British forgave them, he said. After partition, he said his family migrated to Pakistan and settled in the Gwalmandi area of Lahore. Mr Omar, he said, learned to speak the Punjabi language and even married a Punjabi girl. However, he said, he was still a Rohailkhandi from the inside. Afterwards, he said, the author experienced another migration as he went to Canada.
Mr Shahid said upon the insistence of his children Mr Khan decided to write his memoirs and gave them the title of Sawdust castles. He claimed that the author was a natural storyteller and expert in characterisation. He said he had written about many people from his family in the book.
Journalist Ghazi Salahuddin in his speech referred to the host Pervez Iqbal’s statement that Mr Khan was the bridegroom (dulha) of the evening. He said he was right because writing a book stemmed from the ability to love, and the launch ceremony was the author’s wedding evening. Speaking on the salient features of the book he said Mr Khan was a good storyteller, because he had studied English literature and in his college days was a member of a dramatic club. He said he had penned the book in such a way that it read like a screenplay — it had dialogue, interesting characters and the story moved forward like as did in a screenplay.
Pointing out the importance of memoirs Mr Salahuddin said it was significant because pretty soon there wouldn’t be many people alive who had experience the partition of India and narrate it. He said history was all about living memories, about people. He said one had had often read the phrase ‘making sense of Pakistan’ and the book helped us understand that. He said he had known people from East Punjab settling in the Pakistani side of Punjab, but he had never heard of someone from a shareef UP family settling in a place like Gwalmandi. He said apart from being a narration of the experience of migration, the book was also a coming-of-age story, because the author in his life migrated for a second time; and this time to Canada.
Sirajuddin Aziz said he was Mr Khan’s junior in the banking field. He said he had always looked up to him. He said when he met him for the first time in Manila, Mr Khan treated him with such affection that he couldn’t forget it.
Pervez Iqbal conducted the launch. He in his short speech quoted from what former senator and federal minister Javed Jabbar has written for the book: “Sawdust castles is a book that surprises you as soon as you step into this structure… The fact that the book holds one’s attention to the very end is the beginning of the unexpected.”
Javed Jabbar and Omar Khan were also on the list of speakers.