Have you ever been scolded by your teacher for asking forbidden questions? For asking something more, which was not planned? For letting her know that she is not telling the truth, if you did get beaten for these nasty reasons than I can understand your pain, because I was also subjected to this form of institutionalized violence. When I was in my primary years of education I was beaten by my teachers many times. Sometimes she used to pull my ear and she often used to use the famous stick known as ‘mola baksh’ it was before the slogan of ‘maar nahi pyar’. My teacher was given permission to brutally beat me by none other than my own mother, so I had no escape. But as times change so does the policy, and it was declared by the government that children will not get beaten in schools instead they will be loved or in my words ignored. ‘Maar nahi pyar’ what a flattering idea, I thought. But the application of this idea was very different, I used to ask primitive questions according to my teacher, but the real problem was that she stopped giving answers to my questions sometimes even noticing that I exist that I am talking about something I should get punished for. This childhood memory came to my mind while I was attending LLF 2019, where the critical questions and opinions from the audience were totally neglected. The subject matter which was proposed in the schedule was not properly debated only the fundamental ideas were talked about in most of the sessions just like an exercise conducted in our school when I was in class 6, and the teacher used to assign certain topics to specific students and they were asked to debate on them. The poetry of an eminent pashtun poet was discussed during one session but what I found problematic was that the panelist tried to find the theme of universality in Hamza Baba’s poetry by finding its correspondence with Wordsworth. Even if it is seen under the headline of universality, my question is why do we have to find the theme of universality in literature at all? People belong to different region so does literature. This is the beauty of literature that if you want to know a culture a society read its literature. Thus, I found it somewhat degrading to compare any indigenous literature to an international literature. I have read English literature, I have read Wordsworth but I whenever I go back to my village I do not recall Wordsworth’s poetry or his experience of being near to nature. My mind captures lines from Abdullah Hussain’s famous ‘Udas Naslain’. I found it somewhat degrading to compare any indigenous literature to an international literature. I have read English literature, I have read Wordsworth but I whenever I go back to my village I do not recall Wordsworth’s poetry or his experience of being near to nature. My mind captures lines from Abdullah Hussain’s famous ‘Udas Naslain’ There were very few sessions which actually went along with their presented outlines. The idea that was presented in the schedule was not fully explored and themes that mentioned the ideas were also not fully justified. This was noticed by the audience as well, a session on ‘tareekhi or sayassi shaoor e urdu’ historic and political consciousness in Urdu was very disappointing in this regard, it seemed like that one was attending a scripted talk show and things were just being repeated. Interestingly, there was a young man or should I say madman as he dared to actually make a point, he stood up and tried to make the panelists realize their mistake? They were not honest with the title of the session. He also proposed some ideas on which discussion could have been expected, but then a point came where the literary festival turned into a classroom in which an authoritative teacher never welcomed critical questions and turned the student away. This was the critical point were the bourgeois intelligentsia was exposed in their own irony, the people who were talking about names like Manto, Ismat and those blunt names who questioned the state and morality, but rejected to accept the existence of may be another Manto who had the courage to question them. So we learn, you can talk about subversion, you can talk about the resistance in Urdu literature on stage but when someone from the audience resists your idea and opinion at some point, you snatch the mike back and save yourselves. The session on ‘New postcolonial narratives’, was also disappointing. Discussion kept shifting from main theme to personalities. Story narratives were being discussed instead of post-colonial narratives as the title claimed. I, being an annoying hysteric student used one of my questions to bring them back to the main topic. Another aspect of the festival, the question answer session rounds were not well received by the panelists most of the time a very circular answer was given in response to a very good question. My questions were also subjected to this negligence. The given answers were more circular in nature rather than definitive. But I am still very hopeful that a nation which has a critical consciousness, is a nation that can address its problems. The session will read, audience challenged the panelists with their questions which is a clear evidence of the fact that the people of this country are no longer intellectualy dependent on the bourgeois intelligentsia. Published in Daily Times, March 4th 2019.