A new collection of translated short stories reminds us how Urdu literature needs to connect with a global audience, says Raza Rumi
As I hold the recently published “The Oxford Book of short stories” in my hands, I cannot help bemoan the fact that Urdu literature has been almost invisible from the arena of global literature. Admittedly, translation is difficult; the tediousness of translation daunts many a brave heart. Having said that, there have been a handful of remarkable translators such as Khalid Hassan, Alamgir Hashmi, CM Naim, Aamer Hussain, Umer Memon and Rakhshanda Jalil, to name a few. But a wide corpus of Urdu literature lies forlorn and hidden from global readership, which alas is dominated by English language readers. For this very reason, Amina Azfar has done a remarkable job of compiling a collection of Urdu short stories. Her earlier translations have been competent and quite often lyrical. For instance, Akhtar Hussain Raipuri’s Gard-e-Rahh (the dust of the road) and Sajjad Zaheer’s Roshnai ( the Light ) are noteworthy for their tone.
The book has a nice little foreword by Aamer Hussain, who is correct in stating that Azfar’s collection provides a fine introduction to the genre of the Urdu short story. The stories selected encompass a range of various experiments undertaken by the great Urdu writers. The stark realism of Munshi Premchand is counterpoised by Khaleda Hussain’s two short stories that are allegorical and somewhat postmodern in their sensibility. Iftikhar Arif, the renowned poet-bureaucrat, in his formal introduction quotes Dr Jamil Jalibi, terming the selected short stories “in the category of the very best”. Continue reading
A short story contributed for the Pak Tea House by Salman Masood
We planned to go watch a movie that evening. Perhaps we should not have considering that it was the first time we were meeting. But Hasan sounded interesting enough during the few times we had talked on the phone. He intrigued me. A common friend had introduced us. I was not looking for a fling or a casual acquaintance. Talking with him suggested he had the same ideas.
I had broken up with my fiancé almost six months back. Perhaps it was still too early to look for a life partner. When I met Fahad three years ago, I resigned to the thought that my search for matrimonial bliss, no matter how clichéd it sounds, had ended. Our families had known one another for decades. His father and mine had been school fellows in Lahore. Fahad was an investment banker, based in Dubai. He appeared a bit gruff initially but I thought, like my family, that he would be like his father who was a sweet, gentle soul. But Fahad had a fiery temper. He was possessive and overbearing. He would call me from Dubai often and sometimes at odd hours; inquire where and with who I was. It suffocated me. I thought after marriage he will chain and shackle me. I don’t like restrictions and boundaries. I have been fascinated with the vastness of the blue sky. Opting out was the only option.
Hasan told me he would pick me at 9:30 p.m. I felt a surge of excitement within me. I called Ayesha, our mutual friend. I asked her if there was something important I should keep in mind. Does he like a specific color? Should I wear a sleeveless shirt or was it too early for that? Should I wear heavy make up or would I look too pretentious. Should I keep my hair tied or let them fall down? Should I wear some ethnic jewelry, a necklace of stones or just an elegant gold chain? I eventually decided to wear a black long shirt with little embroidery. Continue reading
PESHAWAR: There are 74 Buddha stories carved in stone, which are on display in Peshawar Museum, describing all happenings in his life.
Prof Fidaullah Sehri, former director of the Museum and ex-chairman of the Archaeology and Fine Arts Department, Peshawar University, told US Ambassador Anne W Patterson during her visit to the museum.
NWFP Minister of Culture Syed Aaqil Shah and Director Archaeology and Museums Malik Saleh Muhammad KhanYusufzai, Hazara University Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Ihsan Ali Khan and Prof Sehri received Patterson, who was accompanied by her husband. Continue reading