A Tribute to Charles Dickens
Way back in the seventies, we had no advanced technology, no videos easily available, and no Internet. Yet we had what no video or movie can impart. The power of the written word.
My father was an avid reader, and to form the reading habit in us he would take us, every Saturday morning to the Pak-American book shop on the Elphiniston street (now Zebunnissa street) and let us choose whatever books we fancied. Today I thank Allah for blessing us with such a wonderful father.
I did not watch many of the great Victorian’s movies in my childhood , but I could describe, very accurately . If you asked me,what Copperfield looked like. If you asked me about Mr. Micawber, I’d describe him to you, easily.
I could also describe the mail coach to Dover, the foggy night, the coachmen, the gentleman who kept on repeating “Recalled to Life!”to himself, “to be buried alive, for eighteen years!!
and the tragic, handsome, Sidney. The sternly graceful Miss Havisham, and the coquette, Estella.
And, I can describe what happened in Paris when they attacked the Bastille.
I fell in love with Dickens when I read the story of Oliver Twist, a classic comic book,when I was a child especially the line, “Please Sir, may I have some more?” and the ensuing catastrope.
A nine year old I could not imagine such brutality, and in England?
I was so sure that the English were a civilized race ,and incapable of such brutality, that I expostulated one day to Mr Blythe our English tutor, What cruelty! Ho, Ho, young lady! I’d advise you to read more of Dickens’ novels before formimg your opinion about the British!.
Luckily, I was sent to study to England, and there in the class-room reading Dickens in Mrs Hallaway Literature class, I learnt that, the English were not all brutal, and that Charles Dickens was the greatest story teller in the eighteenth century.England..
Ever since , he has remained the symbol of classic English literature to me.
While achieving a high level of popularity early in his career with,”Sketches of Boz” and serial stories, he made his mark as a master story teller.
At my school in Hertsfordshire, we had a gentleman coming in to impersonate Dickens.
A red backdrop, a mahagony table, and the gentleman dressed in black,long coat with a bow, and a beard apperaing quite like him, presented us the story session. The story was” Captain Murder”
The irascible, charming Captain Murder would woo brides only to disappear the very next morning without a trace!
While walking in his gardens, one of his would-be brides looking at the rows of bright red carrots, tomatoes and celery, asks him,
“Dear captain Murder, what are these vegetables for?”
He replies good humouredly,
“These my dear are for a meat pie, ha! ha! Ha! A meat pie!”
Of-course the vegetables were meant for a meat pie, but the meat was his bride’s, for Captain Murder would kill off his brides, as soon as he married them and eat them up!
Yes indeed, a master at depicting horror, a master at portraying emotional pathos, and a post master in comedy, He will remain the most versatile, the most spontaneous, and the most endearing novelist in the history of Literature in the English Language