Why Literature Matters?
Literature is essential because it allows for the soul to enrich itself especially in our vastly developing digital world. Before the age of technology words were the only means by which we communicated ; from our first utterances to our last , literature is at the heart of everything.
Many of my favourite books have moved me to tears , such as The God Of Small Things. The scene on the train where the twins are separated is one such example that has never left me. Likewise in A Thousand Splendid Suns Mariam’s unjust treatment at the hands of her husband, who is not only physically repulsive but takes delight in his cruelty, is another example of when literature resonates as powerfully today as it did when I first read it. Roy and Hosseni use literature as a way of drawing us into the issues they feel strongly about.No other medium apart from literature could have so powerfully enlightened me about the social prejudices that exist in caste systems and the repercussions of forced marriage.
When I’ve had a tough day there’s nothing like losing myself in the Harry Potter series . Rowling’s words prove more evocative then the smell of my favourite biryani or the thud of the football in the street outside my window, in transporting me to the lazy summers spent reading. Rowling provided me with a complete escape by enticing me into the world of wizadry, a safe -haven that I still take refuge in today.
Literature has provided an essential ingredient of my own moral journey. The anonymous life support given to a ship-wrecked young boy in Michael Morpurgo’s Kensuke’s Kingdom is the most striking example of altruism that gripped me as a child and remains an integral part of my moral fibre. By reading such works in my formative years literature has shaped the lens with which I view the world.
By entering the mind-scape of a myriad of writers I view my own with a perspective that is enriched beyond my remit. Literature transcends time and place. The works of Rumi provide a toolkit , equipping me with a moral and social resilience. It still amazes me how a 13th century Persian poet connects so seamlessly with a 21st century student in London.
Most significantly literature is a portal into our own history. My great grandfather was a scholar of Islam and a poet. His works , though largely written in Urdu, Arabic and Persian are a integral part of my identity as a writer and are a constant source of inspiration. His words have allowed me to learn about my roots and connect me with an otherwise lost piece of heritage.
Literature is at our epicentre , it makes us laugh , makes us cry. It dances with our emotions- which is what keeps us alive. Without literature life would be stagnant – listless.
Safeerah Mughal is currently studying English at London South Bank University. She was previously a participant in the RSL’s schools outreach progamme.