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A Person of Pakistani Origins

A Person of Pakistani Origins
Hardback232 pages
PublisherHurst & Company
Publication Year2018

A crowd assembles before two master poets. Suddenly, one of the poets drops dead. The culprit? The very beauty of his native Urdu language delivered by his opponent in a duel of rhyme and verse. There is the story about that one uncle who is a bit off, but this uncle has the ability to disappear and reappear miles away without even breaking a sweat. These are but a couple of the many tails covered in this collection of essays. Imprisoned princesses, heroic saif battles, and mystical devious beings are the cast of other tales. But those tales are not told here. In A Person of Pakistani Origin, we follow one man to the Pakistani Embassy in London. Angered by his and the treatment of others within, we journey with Ziauddin Sardar on a retrospective distillation in search of what it is to be Pakistani, and whether or not that is something one wants or ought to be. This funhouse mirror reflection of heritage, identity, language, and culture takes us through the entangled mess of history and properly positions us in the here and now. The influences of times constant acceleration, the rise and fall of language and custom, and popular fiction explore the multiplicity of Pakistanis the world over. In this volume, nothing is as it seems, and assumptions only stand to become lessons for tomorrow. Sardar’s cast of characters in the landscape he coats with comical fantasy provides for a critical analysis into the humble insanity of everyday life, prompting its readers to also embark on a reflection of their own to the heart of where they come from and who they have become.

In a world were poets armed with verse and rhyme duel to the death in their Urdu utterances… Where one uncle can disappear into thin air and rematerialize miles away without so much as breaking a sweat… One man enters the Pakistani Embassy in London to obtain a visa to his place of birth. One question is clear, does Auntie know best? They say that every superhero needs their origin story. This is not one of those. Love or Hate, Good or Evil, Milk or Sugar. None of these dichotomies will be resolved here. In A Person of Pakistani Origin, Ziauddin Sardar looks into the funhouse mirror that reflects back his heritage, an identity, language, and culture deeply entangled in history and misunderstanding. This retrospective distillation is an exercise in search of what is Pakistani. Is it in the actions provoked by popular Hindu films? Or between the lines of the Urdu language? Does it require an authentic birth certificate or can it be suppressed by a power-hungry regime? Perhaps it has been burgled by a copy cat for the latest knock off Ibn Safi thriller! Nothing is as it seems here and assumptions made here only stand to be lessons for tomorrow. Laced within the crazy characters and distant lands Sardar finds himself in is a thorough analysis of Pakistan in all its multiplicity. A coating of comical fantasy and critical thought takes you on a journey into the humble insanity that is the everyday life of a person of Pakistani origin.

Every super hero needs their origin story. This is not one of those. He is a Brit. He is a Pakistani. In fact, Ziauddin Sardar has been called many things, not all of them good, but he is most assuredly not a simple man. In A Person of Pakistani Origin, we embark on a retrospective distillation as a man navigating through a resentment for what his homeland has become, cherished value-instilling memories, and a longing love for film, books, and poetry that have fallen in quality as of late. We are hurled into a chaotic journey of confusion as we learn the boy can be taken out of Pakistan, but Pakistan isn’t necessarily done with the boy. Our guides? An uncle who has the ability to disappear into thin air and rematerialize anywhere on Earth seemingly effortlessly. An auntie whose rigid demand for tradition and justice seek an entirely different outcome. Urdu poets armed with beautiful verses powerful enough to kill upon utterance. Laced in throughout are examinations of language, popular culture, and art as the Pakistani diaspora evolves both spatially and temporally. Are we the product of the culture we come out of, the language we speak, or the crazy characters we find ourselves surrounded by? Coated in comical fantasy and critical thought the humble insanity of Sardar’s everyday life drives us all to explore what made us who we are and to discover who we want to be.