Light yellow evening in the library of Gymkhana, Lahore on November 22, 2013 was whispering the silence when I reached there before given time. Yellow empty hall hailed to me along with S A J Shirazi who invited me to the evening. But as soon as the ceremony started with the holy verses and Salman Rashid (the guest of the evening) approached the rostrum, words mingled into silence and train of his tours set off from his childhood to the date. He passed by the memories of those days when a stormy wind in Jalandhar where his dear ones were snatched by the cruel hands of massacre in 1947.
Train also stopped at the station where he left his designation in Pak army. He also hollowed out the moments when he decided to roam about the world and take pen in his hands instead of sitting under a boss of an MNC. And now he was standing to speak on what he had seen and written on discovered and undiscovered areas of Pakistan. He was coming back from the journey of months and years but had brought the news from the hidden caves of centuries. He was running with the history simultaneously as slow and as fast.
It was book launching of ‘Deosai: Land of the Giant’ by Salman Rashid, travel writer and a Fellow of Royal Geographical Society. A travel book takes you around Deosai plains in the north of Laddakh and Kashmir, the area denoted as having the worst weather on earth. Snow-clad area with zero temperatures recorded every month and with the mammals like wolves, marmots, brown bears……he was there to write this wonderful account, my spinal cord felt a shivering sitting in a heated hall. He writes what he sees and he sees a lot, I must say.
He does not write until and unless he personally visits the places so his words are an eye-witness of what he has delivered so far in print form or on digital wings. The need is to spread his message of beauty, hospitality, and history of these people who inhabit in such far off areas and preserving the legacy of weathers however fierce they are.
Digital media has overtaken the world of prints and ‘book’ is standing alone on an island of a few people with solitude imposed on him due to any reason. Era of the book in print should not be thrown to the digital winds and serious steps must be taken to revive the true veneration of a book and bring the readers back to libraries before it is too late and prints have only footprints behind.