Goodbye, Mr. Chips

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When my cousin who’s about to complete his University expressed his dislike for James Hilton’s Goodbye Mr.Chips, I became defensive and wasted no time in suggesting that story is not that much boring and while we were busy sharing our thoughts, my uncle who himself read this story in his intermediate course intervened and also showed his lack of interest about the atmosphere in Mr. Chips.

It’s been thirty years that Mr. Chips is a part of intermediate course in my country and for some time a debate is going about removing it from syllabus.

Mr. Chips is a story of a school teacher about which it’s said that Hilton created this character after his father.

Originally written in 1934, the story is adapted into cinemafilms and two television presentations.

When some people are of the view that it should be removed and replaced by some modern tale, my mind takes me back to the time when our teacher would ask one of us to read a chapter from Mr. Chips and later she would translate it in Urdu for us.

At the end of lecture we were asked to prepare notes from guide books.

It was her way of teaching literature and this is the common way in which the novella is taught to our students in colleges.

Eminent Professor Bhem Singh Dihya from India always reminds his students that literature is a study of life and we cannot study Mr.Chips without establishing its connection with life.

In life, we often meet persons like Mr. Chips. They’re ordinary in appearances but they possessed some some special qualities.

Hilton’s character Mr. Chips knew how to teach languages and with this quality, he succeeded in leaving strong impact upon generation of students in his time.

Mr. Chips was a sincere soul and as a teacher, he did hardwork to achieve a high status at a Brookfield school.

How can we say that the world of Mr. Chips has grown old when themes of sincerity and hardwork towards one’s job are still relevant in our society of 2018?

Another criticism which is put forward by the opponents of this story is about love affair of Mr. Chips. They consider Katherine and Chips relation dull and boring.

Unlike modern tale of Twilight series, the love affair of Katherine and Chips was such that there’s lack of show of emotions in it but the reader needs to study the underlying theme in this love story of Katherine and Chips.

Katherine’s influence changed not only chauvinistic attitude of Mr. Chips but also altered him in a way that he became more effective teacher in a class.

How can we consider such kind of love dull when its influence alters personality to that much extent?

It somehow takes me back to 2008 when suicide attacks were common in country.  Once it happened that while we were in class a suicide blast killed dozens of policemen near our University. Confusion erupted among students and phones started to ring immediately. Other teachers informed our Professor but he continued giving his lecture.

Our minds were so occupied with the situation outside that we didn’t grasp a thing from his lecture.

Now, there’s a scene in Hilton’s story where Mr. Chips in the midst of bombing not only kept on teaching Latin but also carried on cracking jokes so to divert the attention of frightened students in his class.

Our teacher on that day in our University class didn’t try to calm us down. He only wanted to complete his lecture and though he succeeded in doing so, he unlike Mr. Chips failed to leave any impact upon his students.

When my cousin is of the view that reading Mr. Chips is a mere waste of time, I’m of the opinion that it’s not the time to say good bye to Mr. Chips. Literature never gets old. It can’t be associated with certain time period and keeping this in view we still can learn a lot from Mr. Chips.

 

 

 

What is it that you require to become a writer?

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Is it about ‘writing space’ or is it about some kind of ‘inspiration’ that is necessary to write? Is it only good imagination that gives rise to powerful writing?

Lately, I’ve been trying to find answers for these questions and have recently came across a tedtalk by Markus Zusak on yout tube.

Zusak who is an author of New York Times bestseller The book Thief explains that these are problems in life for which a person wants some solution and in order to get away from them, he becomes a writer.

This phenomenon sounds interesting to me and Harry Potter’s writer J. K Rowling came to my mind. Prior to publishing her novel, Rowling was going through lots of troubles in her life. She was a single mother and in absence of any kind of permanent job, she was in need of money.

Rowling’s strong imagination was the reason behind her success but that were also problems in her life which compels her to use her imagination in an effective way.

Reign of Queen Victoria in England is famous for its novelists and Charles Dickens is considered one of the greatest English writers of his time. When his father was in debtors’ prison, Dicken left school to work in factory. Dickens’ was quite young when he was forced to live a life away from his family and while working as a child, he experienced the problems which poor working class faced in society.

Facing issues and on getting first hand experience of life, Dicken with the help of his imagination created some unforgettable characters in literature.

Wilkins Micawber, Ebenzer Scrooge and Oliver Twist are considered some of his memorable characters.

An author while writing her memoir writes

” My sharpest memory is of a single instant surrounded by dark”

Which means that these are dark moments in life which leave strong impression on our minds and writer is a sensative person to express his emotions well from such moments.

Tolstoy in Anna Karenina writes

“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

Which shows that in unhappiness there are many shades while in happy moments we often don’t find much which can stir or move our soul. Troubles in life provides us with many ideas to get away from them.

It’s not always necessary for a writer to own some perfect writing space, it’s anywhere that an idea can struck him.

Going back to that tedtalk by Markus Zusak, he tells that while writing a draft for his book, he literally tore and threw away many pages. He was confused about selecting his narrator and while looking at the pile of crumpled papers, an idea came to his mind.

Previously when he was considering taking girl to be his narrator, he was facing lots of issues but when he decided to make death a narrator of his book, everything went smooth.

It was out of the box thinking and once the novel was well received, he concluded that his journey of writing The book thief was not easy. He was sure that problems helped him in creating such a compelling piece of writing.

Have you read this book by Markus Zusak? Do you agree that these are problems in life which often helps writer in his writing.

Image Coutesy: Unsplash

Goodbye

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Last week on the way back to Lahore, I couldn’t help noticing some sign boards on motorway. Reading “Goodbye” and “thank you for travelling with us” saddened me. On seeing my face my sister laughed and called it madness and in the reply I only smiled because I knew she would not understand the reason of my sensitive nature.

And that reminds me of the view of those green fields and yellow flowers that made our six hour long journey colorful. The kind yellow sun continued to smile and when our car entered in Lahore, I saw the orange rays of setting sun kissing the large sign board on the road.

It read

Welcome to capital city

It’s been a week and while sitting on my bed, I’m busy in typing these words on my laptop. I’m glad to recall all these beautiful moments.

Believe me writers are not only sensitive but they’re also good in their exaggeration. 🙂