Let me confess I had not expected the reaction the JI has given to the army\’s criticism. It is an interesting development.
L-R: Iftikhar Arif, Hamid Akhtar, Amin Mughal. Urdu Markiz London.
Courtesy Amarjit Chandan
Punjabi University to compile work of Manto
Samrala, May 13
Punjabi University, Patiala, will publish “Sahitik Simrti Granth” about the writings of Manto, announced Vice Chancellor Dr Jaspal Singh while speaking at a seminar organised by the Lekhak Manch, Samrala, in memory of famous Urdu writer Saadat Hasan Manto.
He said efforts would be made to collect writing materials of Manto and to publish them in the proposed Granth. He said Manto was the most sensitive writer of the 20th Century. He said Manto had expressed the grief of Partition through his writings.
Balvir Kaur, Director, Languages Department, Punjab, appreciated the work done by Manto and said he was still alive through his poetry [sic]. She said the Language Department would support the construction of a library in the native village of Manto, Paproudi. She said the department would also provide help in building a memorial of Manto at his native village.
Other writers and poets present on the occasion included Dr Ratan Singh, Bir Devinder Singh, Gulzar Singh Sandhu, Rawel Singh, Kashmiri Lal Zakir, Narinder, Mohan Bhandari, Surjit Patar, Gurbhajan Gill and Sardar Panchhi. Later, a play written by Kewal Dhaliwal “Ek Si Manto” was staged.
Courtesy Amarjit Chandan
Timeless storyteller little
remembered in his own village
May 11 2012
In the non-descript village of Paproudi in Samrala [District Ludhiana], Sadat Hasan Manto is an unfamiliar name. The works of this noted Urdu writer —”Toba Tek Singh“, “Thanda Gosht”, “Tamasha” — are even more unfamiliar. The villagers cannot relate to any of these. But there’s a quiet realisation among them that the village is in the spotlight because of him.
An old man in his late 70s is sitting on the village roadside.The way to Manto’s house? “Manto? I don’t know. Better ask the sarpanch…Yes, I’m from this village…But Manto?”. He looks puzzled.
Manto’s house has seen several renovations and nothing is left of its original form. Only a dusty street, where the gate of Manto’s two-room house once opened, is intact. Manto’s schoolmate Ujagar Singh makes an unobtrusive entry. A year short of a century, this school dropout studied with Manto till Class I. If he’s to be believed, Manto was an unlikely hero some 90 years ago.
“Manto’s family was called the Kashmiri family in the village. As kids, we enjoyed saag and makki di roti. A fruit called ‘phut’, that I hardly get now, was our favourite. I had no inkling that he would be a great writer one day,” he says.
“Manto was an avid footballer. He was strikingly good looking. We’d keep visiting his maternal aunt’s house at Shamspur village,” he recalled.
Did he ever get a glimpse of a rebel in Manto? “Not the faintest when he was a child,” he says. Ujagar sees Manto through the eyes of a 10-year-old. There’s a ring of sincerity and affection when he talks of Manto. It’s a friend’s tribute, not a fan’s adulation.
“In the past 90 years, everything has changed. The village well has long dried up,” says Ujagar, turning pensive.
“In the 1960s, Manto’s kutcha house was auctioned by the government for Rs 400. But it was no small amount at that time,” he says.
He says he is looking forward to the Lekhak Manch, Samrala, cutting a cake and then holding a candlelight march in Manto’s memory.
Manto’s epitaph, that he wrote a few months before his death, reads: “Here lies Sadat Hasan Manto and with him lie buried all secrets and mysteries of the art of short story writing. Under tonnes of earth he lies, still wondering who among the two is the greater short story writer: God or he.”
Ujagar Singh at the makeshift library at Paproudi village. Photos: Inderjit Verma
The Lekhak Manch, Samrala, is celebrating the birth anniversary of Sadat Hasan Manto at his village. “Way back in 1988, we started the Manto Memorial Cultural Club. Last year, we opened a small library with the help of Punjabi writer Gulzar Sandhu,” says manch president Daljeet Singh Shahi. The ‘library’ is restricted to a shelf in a room at Kalgidhar Gurdwara. “We hope that within a few months, we would have a separate room to house the library,” he adds. Rajwinder Samrala, general secretary of the manch, says they plan to get Manto’s rare book “Siyah Haashiya” reprinted.
“I’ll donate the house if there are any plans to preserve it as a national heritage building,” says Ram Singh, owner of the house that once was Manto’s. He says his grandfather had bought the house in the 1960s.
[Report: Minna Zutshi
Ram Singh, present owner of Manto’s house and
a billboard in Samrala mentions Manto Utsav to be held on May 13.
ہاتھ آیا نہیں کچھ رات کی دلدل کے سوا
ہاۓ کس موڑ پہ خوابوں کے پرستار گرے
Arif waqar reviews Hamraz Ahsan’s book of Punjabi poetry, Meki Kuj Na Akh.