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Tea for students and a pair of parakeets

By Peerzada Salman 2020-06-01
THESE days, anyone who has the slightest scratch in his or her throat gets alarmed the coronavirus pandemic has made us extra cautious about our health. (It should have been that way all along.) This year will always be known for a disease that affects the human respiratory system. The fact of the matter is that there are quite a few illnesses that are to do with the throat which, especially in our part of the world, rear their heads in summer.

On June 1, 1970 it was reported that the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) and Civil Hospital had received 53 cases of mumps in a single week. More than 90 per cent of the patients were children below 12 years of age. Doctors attributed the spread of the disease to the sale of unhygienic eatables, panicularly outside schools.

Schoolchildren at the time, by the way, were preparing themselves for board and university exams. A news item published in Dawn on June 3 likened the students` preparation to going into quarantine because `it`s time for temporarily brakingoff connections with the normal world`. A picture showed students with limited resources reading books under streetlights.

That was not it. There was an element of love and care, too, in society for the young pupils who did not come from affluent backgrounds. On June 4 it was announced that free tea apart from comfortable accommodation was promised by the Khaligdina Hall Library Association in its 114-year-old building on Bunder Road (now M. A.

Jinnah Road)forthe poor students who otherwise stayed up all night at roadside studying under streetlights.

The facility in the well-lit rooms of the structure was to be made available from June 10 under the night study programme of the association.

Staying on the subject of education, on June 3, the Karachi Municipal Corporation said it would build a primary school in Lea Market in the office of Union Committee No 44.

The plan was to turn the ground floor of the committee`s building into an institution having five rooms.

On the cultural side of things, on June 5, a meeting held tocelebrate the 71st birthday of Qazi Nazrul Islam recalled the poet`s two-year stay at Karachi (1917-19) at the very outset of his literary career and reviewed its far-reaching influence. He was in the city as a soldier, and it`s here that he composed his first published poem and wrote a book of prose. The meeting held by the Pakistan Writers Guild (PWG) Karachi region and the Writers` Club at the guild`s office highlighted that effons should be made to identify the exact place in Abyssinia Lines where the poet lived. The PWG`s secretary general Mahbub Jamal Zahedi also made an appeal to the government to undenake projects to translate Nazrul Islam`s poetry into Urdu.

This was not the only piece of historical information that the readers received that week. On June 3 it was claimed that history was created in the Karachi Zoological Gardens by a pair of ring-neck parakeets that bred in captivity for the first time under ahificial conditions and brought up a young one. A zoo official enlightened the media that parrots and parakeets were notoriously hard to breed in captivity except for a couple of varieties such as the budgerigars.