Refuge From Nightmare- Karachi 2011

Posted: August 20, 2011 in Literature
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I’ve posted this once before as well, its an excerpt from an essay I read in elective English in college. Its always comforted me in the past, I have parts of this essay memorized, I’ve read it so often. Right now, I think we could all use a bit of comfort.

The essay was set post-WW1 and pre-WW2, the writer escapes his life to visit a quiet village, where time seems to have stood still. But the peace he seems to find there evaporates when, at a tavern, he picks up a newspaper to have something to do, despite having read it already. This serves as a rude awakening for him, as the reality of the outside world comes rushing back.

Towards the end, he seems hopeful because though the night is as dark as it was before, ‘there were more stars.’ I can’t believe the same applies to Karachi right now, but I’m determined to force myself to believe that. There has to be hope. There’s always hope.

Refuge From Nightmare:

By Gerald Gould.

Even the blameless pacific sentiments of the particular paper gave me little comfort. Talk about ‘reality’! What came real from the outside world except noise and pain? It seemed as though the human animal, divorced in his millions from the enabling contact of earth and ageless habit, had gone mad to the shrieks of his own inadequate machines. To tell the truth, the news of recent years comes together into a blur, a coagulation of woe, a ball of vipers, stinking and threatening, if one does but visualize it with the strength of feeling. For the mind, scrupulous and analytical, the picture is less terrible. One can discern tendencies. One can take comfort. One can nurse hope- there is reason in hope, and hope in reason. But the general unanalyzed effect is of ugliness and screaming. Those who love peace and ensue it are confronted by the old dilemma, proved unrebuttable by centuries of bloodshed, perhaps to remain unbutted till men come with cleaner hands and calmer minds to the job of manhood- peace is good, it is good for the good, we must lay down our arms, we must pass resolutions, we must testify and memorialize…

…the noise of mankind at shrieking odds with itself rises up at one from a crumpled paper, the ancestral voices are everywhere prophesying war.

I drained my mug and went out again and walked a little way farther up along the hill. The air was darker than before, and I thought it colder. But there were more stars.

  1. Rana Usman says:

    What a beautiful description of fear in the form of an allegory.

    Hope is probably the only medicine that keeps us alive.

    A very beautiful excerpt

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