Omair Alavi|Published May 2, 2020
Turn these days at home into a learning experience with Syed Imtiaz Ali Taj’s Bachon Kay Dramay, published by Oxford University Press. The book may be in Urdu language, but it will be the finest Urdu publication you (or your kids, if you are a parent) will read, and understand easily.
This collection is specifically targeting parents who love to read Urdu to their children or kids with an interest in theatre. Even after more than 50 years of the dramatist’s death, these dramas are as valid as anything written for children recently.
Before you move ahead, you should know that Imtiaz Ali Taj is the father of Urdu drama and wrote the immensely popular Anarkali when he was 22 years old. He also created the famous character Chacha Chakkan for kids, who is the clumsy uncle we all have in our family. Another of his drama Begum Ki Billi is still being taught in schools all over Pakistan where the protagonist plans to get rid of his wife’s cat, without success.
Imtiaz Ali Taj’s contribution to the field of children’s literature is massive, especially because not much has been done in this regard since his death in 1970.
In this book, 12 of his dramas are presented in such a way that not only the readers get to learn something new, but also realise that something they take for granted, are wrong. It starts with Tal Matol that teaches us the importance of listening to elders and giving preference to what they have to say; Anokha Darbar revolves around a funny royal couple who find themselves in a comical situation; Cinema is about two brothers making excuses so that they can visit the cinema, without any of them realising that their father had already asked the teacher to take them to the cinema; Baja Mil Gaya preaches us that there are more important things in life than what your heart desires; Hidayatein is an interesting conversation between two friends regarding ‘irritating instructions’ from parents, whereas Naukri Kyon Na Mili tells us that sometimes being over efficient can be disastrous.
The rest of the stories teach you how to converse while visiting a doctor, going shopping, or how to interact when at a hospital or when your father’s friend arrives. The importance of time and obeying the law are also cunningly explained as dialogues between two people, and they will certainly make the readers more intelligent than they were when they started the book.
There is a reason why Bachon Kay Dramay doesn’t have pictures because it helps you visualise the settings rather than do that for you. If you are a parent and believe that your kids have a thing for drama (don’t they all!), then this book is what you will need to encourage them. The simple language helps them improve whereas the comedy, as well as serious situations created by the dramatist, will make you appreciate his efforts to teach.
Published in Dawn, Young World, May 2nd, 2020