Location: Baltimore, Maryland, United States

Studied in Govt. College, Lahore, Punjab University,Peshawar University & Zagreb University(Croatia). Started writing when in 7th class. Wrote prose & poetry,Have published writings in almost every Pakistani Urdu & English magazine and newspaper,held important positions in many literary and professional organizations. worked as a teacher, research scientist and industrial management professional, In the words of Arthur Miller I have always felt as being temporary. That is why there was no significant achievement.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


>>By Dr Afzal Mirza>>
What did Manto so prematurely in? Excessive drinking, unjust criticism, a>sense of separation from his friends of Bombay and permanent pecuniary>problems he faced in Lahore>>

Saadat Hasan Manto arrived in Pakistan sometime in 1948. Before that he was well settled in Bombay where with his perspicacity he had attained an>important position as a writer of fiction and film scripts.There he had a circle of friends ranging from literary stalwarts to famous>actors and directors. He was not happy in bidding farewell to the city that had given him so much in terms of fame and fortune. His friends like Ashok Kumar and actor Shayam tried to prevail upon him to forget about migrating to Pakistan. They would tell him that things would>settle down soon and his family, he had sent to Lahore amidst all the heat of partition, would be able to come back. But as he wrote in one of his>Bombay stories "aur bazoo wali gali say ho kar man Pakistan chala aya" (And taking a side street, I came over to Pakistan).
Lahore of 1948 was much different from Lahore of today. The after effects of partition were evident from every thing. The biggest transmigration of>people in human history had left its deep impact on the atmosphere of the city. Convoy after convoy of refugees was arriving in a state of utter destitution. The people had lost their identities and were trying to re-establish themselves in new environment. Manto arrived during those trying times and tried to settle down with his family. They say Qudratullah Shahab who was then a director of industries offered to allot Manto an ice factory. But how could a man sold to literature become a business man? As expected, Manto declined the offer. Before partition, Lahore was one of the major film centres of India but most of the film-makers who were non-Muslims migrated to India. So this avenue was also not available to Manto. Masud Parvez, his friend from Amritsar and Bombay, produced a film, Beli, which was based on a Manto story but it flopped. So to make both ends meet Manto reverted to story writing. This was the most productive period of his literary career. Rather I would say that in Bombay Manto used to spend much of his energy on film writing but in Lahore he got engaged in writing stories exclusively for newspapers>and magazines.Those days one could find Manto in the evenings either on Macleod Road or on The Mall. He would regularly visit Tea House where most of the writers used to meet. The period following partition affected almost every important writer. But Manto wrote outstanding pieces on the ravages of pre- and post-partition>religious frenzy, not realising that Chaudhry Muhammad Hussains of this world -- who had prosecuted him for his earlier stories Kali Shalwar and Boo -- were still there to catch him for 'obscenity' in his writings.Thanda Gosht was published in magazine Javed edited by Arif Abdul Mateen.>Both Manto and Arif were prosecuted for this. When Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi published Manto's story Khol Do in Naqoosh, he was warned and the paper's issue was banned. Both these stories depicted the black side of the post-partition period. All this discouraged Manto as well as his publishers who were afraid of publishing his pieces. Those days Manto also wrote indiscriminately. The remuneration offered to>writers was very poor. However, due to his popularity, Manto could at least get his payment in advance but the return on his hard work was so meager that he was in perpetual pecuniary problems. It was during this period that>he wrote to one of his friends, Ghulam Mustafa, in Karachi, "Some law suits and monetary problems have made me so miserable that I cannot explain my condition to you. When I received your money order, the same day I received a summon from the high court to present myself before the court in order to explain why my story Thanda Gosht should not be banned. I appeared that day but hearing was not held that day. On fourth day, judgement was announced>in>my absence that the story be banned." The perpetual disappointments aroused in Manto nostalgic feelings about his past especially the good times he had spent in Bombay. So while living in Lahore he mentally sojourned in Bombay. Then he wrote the character sketches of his Bombay friends like Ashok Kumar, Shayam, Nargis and stories like>Mamad Bhai, Mummy, Mozaile, Babu Gopi Nath etc. "I am not happy in Lahore. I miss Bombay where I had all my friends. There I got married and my first daughter was born and the second began her life," he wrote. After all Lahore was a much smaller city as compared to Bombay with few opportunities and Manto needed money to live. In Bombay he was used to lavish living and consuming best drinks. In Lahore both these things were missing. He wrote, "You think that I am a broke but actually that is not so.Here in Pakistan my income is around seven or eight hundred rupees per>month. But it is not sufficient for me. My personal expenditure alone is thirty to forty rupees a day." This monetary problem together with consumption of cheap liquors told heavily on his health. In Lahore when he arrived he was in his>mid-thirties. Then he was healthy with long brown hair and a glowing Kashmiri complexion. He used to dress very meticulously. He cut an impressive figure. He had piercing brown eyes that darted out of his thick-rimmed glasses. And in a few years time we saw him with a pale face and yellow sunken eyes. His hair were fast getting gray and were disheveled and he would walk with faltering gait. He was so frustrated that to an editor who had asked for his photo he wrote, "My brother, why are you demanding a photograph from me. I am fed up>with my own face. Yes, I am prepared to write for you." Generally speaking the people were not averse to his drinking but were not>prepared to bear the expenses for it. Once he told Farigh Bukhari who castigated him for excessive drinking, "Brother, I don't like it myself. But if I get it so scarcely then why shouldn't I drink to my fill. People think>that I drink to enjoy. Rather it has become an ailment for me. It is an old habit. How can I get rid of it now? I tried to give it up many times but it has so much affected my nerves that I can hardly leave it. Just imagine who would be happy to drink after borrowing or begging or hiding one self and listening to the jibes of friends and foes. Under these circumstances how could it be termed as enjoyment."This irreversible habit made him highly touchy. He would not tolerate any criticism. He would roughly rebuke any one even his close friends who tried to point out any shortcoming in his writing. He was excessively upset because he had been equally condemned by the progressives and the rightists for 'obscenity'. He could understand the attitude of the obscurantists but would lament at the criticism by the leftists. He used to say in despair, "My talent has become a problem for me. I wish I were not a writer...Who is more progressive than myself. I am one of the founders of this movement. I am the one who introduced realism in literature. My friends now charge me for obscenity. They say that throwing of garbage in the open is against the hygienic principals. They want to conceal the muck in their basements but they forget that it could create a bigger epidemic in society than plague or cholera. ...if they do not consider me progressive let them do so. I am not>progressive I am Manto only Manto." Manto's popularity, however, had made him a star attraction at every literary gathering that he attended in Lahore. He read his masterpieces in some of the annual meetings of Halqa-e-Arbab-e-Zauq. Manto had his unique style of presenting his stories. He would read them>slowly with pauses and deliver the dialogue in a dramatic style -- a trait he developed due to his long association with film industry. Those who>listened to his rendering of Toba Tek Singh in YMCA Hall packed to capacity>would hardly be able to forget the great impact it had on the audience. There was absolute silence in the hall when he finished it and there were tears in every eye. His presentation of Mozaile in another meeting also left every one stunned.


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