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My Friends on the Other Side (Umberto Eco & Harper Lee): by Fiza Pathan

February 21, 2016


I’m not here to talk about how Harper Lee and Umberto Eco left this world.

I’m not here to write their eulogies on

I’m not here to describe their body of work or how popular they were.

I’m here to send a message to my readers that we mourn Harper Lee and Umberto Eco because we knew them; they were popular. But out there in the world, there are many writers whose deaths don’t concern us, which they should.

For when an ordinary person who does not write dies, one life in the family of humanity is lost.

When a writer dies, many different kinds of people, places, worlds, universes, thoughts etc., die with him/her. In short, a part of humanity itself is lost.

I was an introvert at school and no one wanted to be my friend. I grew reclusive even in the midst of school chaos and no one cared at all whether I was living or just existing. When I think about school I say to myself, ‘Thank God I had my books,’ which kept me going until the very end, until I graduated high school with a distinction.

Harper Lee and Umberto Eco: they were my friends along with many other brilliant writers in whose world I used to hang out, during my ‘sad phase’ or should I say my ‘sad school phase’.

The day I got the news that my book Amina: The Silent One was chosen as the solo “Medalist Winner” in the E-Book General Fiction category of the 2015 New Apple Book Awards which would be my 22nd award for my literature and the third award for Amina: The Silent One, I also got the news that my friends of old, Harper Lee and Umberto Eco had left this world. . . and that hurt.

It hurt because a part of humanity died with them… or did it?

We have so many writers, journalists, poets, essayists etc., who constantly write but are persecuted for the very thing they were born to do: to write and continue the work those gone before them have left behind, like Harper Lee and Umberto Eco. Writers don’t want humanity to be ridden from the face of the world, so they constantly question and they constantly write.

I’m not here to talk about how I am going to miss Umberto Eco and Harper Lee, but I am here to say that I am ashamed of myself for not missing those unsung writers who face persecution day after day, whose writings are banned, who are imprisoned, who are separated from the ones they love, who are forced not to write, who are tortured, raped, kidnapped, murdered… and I know nothing about it… nothing….

Is it because I don’t care?

Is it because you don’t care?

No, it’s because we are wearing blinkers when we read and live our lives.

I’m here just to say that writers are dying all because of our blinkers. No NGO or other peace organization can help these writers if we continue to wear these blinkers and say ‘I don’t care, I don’t know and I don’t want to know’.

I’m not here to say that Harper Lee and Umberto Eco don’t mean anything to me anymore. NO! I am where I am because of them, and writers like them. What I’m here to say is that many nameless writers as good as the ones we mourn this week are dying and yet, we don’t want to do anything about it.

I was an introvert and a recluse at school, always reading and thinking.

I am a multiple award-winning author and an owner of my own tutorial today, always reading, writing and thinking.

Stop being insensitive to persecuted writers for if dictators, fundamentalists, and militants can try to ban our thought sources (writers), then it’s a cake walk for them to one day ban a human being altogether.

Don’t mourn for the dead, they have had their reward.

Help the living, and reward yourself.

If you’ve still not guessed it yet, my friends on the other side are not Umberto Eco and Harper Lee. They are always there with me in my heart.

My friends on the other side are those writers whom I have been coerced not to know.

Let’s stop the hate and let’s stand up for writers all over the world.

This would bring more happiness to Umberto Eco and Harper Lee than anything else.

I end with one of my favorite quotes of Umberto Eco:


I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.

Copyright © 2016 Fiza Pathan

Image courtesy and books available at:


  1. what an apt quote by Eco for the times we live in now…!

  2. Thank you for a great blog. Yes, writers are like friends sometimes. Did you like the other Harper Lee book? I did .

  3. Great post. Thanks for this perspective.

  4. Reblogged this on insaneowl and commented:

    I felt I just had to share my post of February 21, 2016. It is as relevant, maybe even more so, as it was then.

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