KARACHI: Continuing with its praiseworthy tradition of reserving at least one session in memory of noteworthy writers, poets, literary scholars and even those involved in other art forms who died in recent years, the International Urdu Conference at the Arts Council of Pakistan on its third day on Saturday featured speeches in tribute to six literary personalities.
The session did not include any speech on the late Dr Asif Farrukhi — a fiction writer, translator, critic and the founder of multiple literature festivals in the country who was a major driving force in the literary environment of Karachi for many years — as he had already been given a befitting tribute on the conference’s inaugural day on Thursday, with personalities like Zehra Nigah, Iftikhar Arif, Shamim Hanafi, Afzal Ahmed Syed, Fatima Hasan and Wajahat Masood pouring their hearts out to the audience in his memory.
The session on Saturday was titled ‘Yaad-e-Raftagan’ (memory of departed ones) and moderated by Nadeem Zafar Siddiqui.
The first departed soul who was remembered was a bureaucrat. Fiction and reportage writer Masood Mufti, who died on November 10, had been posted to East Pakistan in 1971, six months before the fall of Dhaka.
He then spent a month in the new country of Bangladesh and two years in Indian custody as a war prisoner, said fiction writer and critic Muhammad Hameed Shahid. The speaker added that the wounds inflicted on Mufti due to the separation of East Pakistan were never healed, and his literary creations reflected that.
Shahid said Mufti’s father was a principled and pious man, and he had acquired the sense of true religion from him, which was altogether different from how he saw religion manifesting in society. This contrast between the true spirit of religion and how it manifested in a corrupted form in society was also a constant theme in his fiction, added the speaker. Chehre, Humnafas, Chehre aur Mohre and Mohaddab Sheesha are the names of some of the collections of short stories penned by Mufti.
Mazhar Mehmood Sherani The life and works of the late linguist Mazhar Mehmood Sherani, who was the son of renowned poet Akhtar Sherani and grandson of linguist Hafiz Mehmood Sherani (famous for his theory on the origins of Urdu in Punjab), were discussed by Dr Rauf Parekh. Mazhar passed away this June.
Dr Parekh remembered the late scholar as someone who was well-versed in all classic disciplines, particularly Persian. He said Mazhar had penned around 50 books, and his PhD thesis was on his grandfather. The speaker mentioned two great literary projects undertaken by the late scholar: one of which he was able to complete but not the other.
The project completed by Mazhar was the compilation of all the works by his grandfather in 10 volumes. Dr Parekh said the annotations by Mazhar in those 10 volumes spoke of his immense knowledge.