Sabeen Mahmud

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Peerzada Salman

Come on Sabeen, I was just pulling your leg. Just teasing you. Although I do have genuine reservations about the way he fakes an American accent as House. Still, he is a fantastic actor. I liked him in Black Adder. He was excellent in Stuart Little. And you must have seen him do some great bits on stage with Stephen Fry… what was that… A Bit of Fry and Laurie. Yes, that one. He is right out of the top drawer. But House, sorry, doesn’t cut it for me. I have some idea why you go gaga over him. It’s the eccentric Gregory House, and his idiosyncrasies, and the devil-may-care attitude to life that you love. You know why, because you are quite like that yourself. That’s why. But gosh! Can’t stand that American accent.

I’m not sure if Sabeen Mahmud stopped sharing on Facebook her love for Hugh Laurie after I had this conversation with her some six months back. But I was only messing with her. She never forgot that. Subsequently, whenever we conversed and did not see eye to eye on something, she would bring that up. “Ji, aap ko tau Hugh Laurie pasand nahin, aap se kia baat ho gi” (you don’t like Hugh Laurie, what else can we talk about then).

Apart from Hugh Laurie, Sabeen would disagree with me, though not entirely, on being pessimistic about life in general and Pakistani society in particular. Sabeen, literature, art, music, politics… in this day and age… Seriously? You are banging your head against a brick wall. I would provoke her.

Again, this argument was also posited partly in jest, merely to elicit her passionate, exuberant response and to see her lovely, smiling face light up with the kind of youthfulness that she would show to convince you how brilliant Hugh Laurie is.

“You know, that’s the kind of attitude that I don’t approve of. I know there are problems, there are issues which perhaps need ages to sort out, but if we bury our heads in sand thinking the monster wouldn’t get to us, nothing is going to come out of it. I know you have a point. Society has been desensitised to a great extent. But someone has to stand up and fight,” would be the counter argument of the woman.

Why you, Sabeen?

“I feel like I’ve missed out on many things in life,” she once said during a very brief conversation that we had before a T2F event. “I’m a Grammarian, which means I don’t know much about the likes of Ghalib. Ghalib, I discovered very late in life. I absolutely love him.”

By the way, where’s my Ghalib T-shirt, Sabeen?

“We ran out of stock, and the guy who printed them is giving me a hard time. I’ll get you one as soon as I get the fresh stock. I’m not sure about your size though.” It was her turn to tease.

The last time I saw Sabeen was when I was at T2F to cover a programme on Shakespeare. I was disappointed with one of the participants’ poetry reading skills. I got off my regular aisle seat and walked out of the café a bit early to file my report. She was in the narrow lane behind the building where T2F is located, with a bunch of friends, chirping away as she usually did.

“Going early?” she asked.

Yaar, it’s Shakespeare. Respect.

“Aap ko kabhi kisi cheez se tasalli nahin hoti, tasalli ki practise kia karein” (you are never satisfied with anything; try and be content with what you have). These were her last words of wisdom to me. And I was a little more than an acquaintance.

Sabeen, you’re right. Hugh Laurie is a very fine actor. And House is his best work to date.

Peerzada Salman, “Sabeen, Hugh Laurie is a fantastic actor,” in Dawn, April 28, 2015. Accessed on April 29, 2015, at:

The item above written by Peerzada Salman and published in Dawn on April 28, 2015, is catalogued here in full by Faiz-e-Zabaan for non-profit educational purpose only. Faiz-e-Zabaan neither claims the ownership nor the authorship of this item. The link to the original source accessed on April 29, 2015, is available here. Faiz-e-Zabaan is not responsible for the content of the external websites.

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