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Visions of hope

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One after another visions of hope, so humbly, gently and nobly, continue to enlighten the literary landscape of Pakistan, envisioned as a land of “purity, promise, potential”. Given, as we say, men of letters, why can’t we say women of letters? As such, highlighted is diversified literary work, be it prose or poetry, of women opinion- makers like Surraya Bajia, Haseena Moin, Perveen Shakir, Bano Qudsia, Ismat Chughtai, Fatima Bhutto, Nuzaira Azam, Tehmina Khar and others in different forms and manifestations. Here is a vehement blend of deep feelings and magnanimous thoughts; staunch beliefs and vibrant views, vociferous calls and alarming advocacy on social issues, especially for the strife-stricken and the less-privileged womankind.
What a couplet of a couple! The couple is no more. The couple lives on. That is how the mutually intellectual and inspirational caring and sharing of Dr. Akhtar Husain Raipuri and his wife, Hameeda Akhtar Husain Raipuri, depicted a model of enlightened traditional and contemporary values indeed. Creativity knows no bounds. In the case of scholar and journalist Dr. Akhtar Husain Raipuri and Hameeda Akhtar Husain Raipuri, it was a harmonious blend of elderly inheritance and individual ingenuity. Hameeda Akhtar Husain Rajpuri’s father, Zafar Omar was an author himself. Dr. Akhtar Husain Rajpuri was a protégé of Maulvi Abdul Haq, Baba-e-Urdu. However, it was not just elderly inspiration but also individual ingenuity that shaped the destiny of what transformed into a couplet of a couple. Dr. Raipuri’s writing of the Gard-e-Rah, (The dust of the Road), the original Urdu memoir, was interrupted when he lost his eyesight. However, he completed the book in its present form by dictating the rest of the material. The book is a valuable historical document where the writer has penned down all the important political and social developments and literary movements of his times. Dr. Akhtar Husain Raipuri (1912-1992) witnessed the creation of Pakistan, the rise and fall of communism, the two world wars and the way they shaped the world. It seems he was at all the places in the world where action was taking place. Moreover, his memoirs are a treasure of information about the trends in the progressive movement in India, besides providing insight about Iran, Spain, Italy, Europe and Africa. The year (1992) when Akhtar was no more physically in this world, the spiritual and sentimental parts of his association with Hameeda were naturally and helplessly revealing of the latter. Hameeda seeking solace from the relished memories of her dream-like matrimonial journey embarked on yet another expedition with Akhtar, penning down her invaluable and inspiring experiences with the latter by writing her first ever book at age 72, titled: HUMSAFAR (My fellow traveler) and discovering her inherent insight and innovation to rediscover Akhtar.
Meanwhile, LATEEF KASHMIRI is no more yet he lives on as a poet of promise, purity and piety. Reminiscences of a quietly, saintly and brightly illuminating soul.Simple living and high-thinking, Lateef Kashmiri produced one poetic masterpiece after another be it “Fikray, Shehparay, Afsanay, Nawal, Inkashafat, Afkar o Aqwal” and alike. Whichever the poetic endeavor be, here the message is that of love, peace, justice, sympathy, tolerance, selflessness, sacrifice and fellow feeling as duly- acknowledged and complimented by man in the street, men at the helm of affairs, and more relevantly by men of letters and poets like Ahmed Nadeem Qasmi, Farman Fateh puri, Jamil Malik, Hameed Kashmiri, Ahmad Zaman, Murree Literary Circle and others.Adding to the fragrance of poetic treasures of Lateef Kashmiri is such inherent “Tahqeeq o Tajassus,” especially pertaining to the history of Murree in all its forms and manifestations. He wrote a revealing and spell-binding script on Murree in the mid-1990s, “Murree-Malka-e-Kohsar, (This is Murree-the queen of hills)” with its eloquence, information and presentation fascinated both the literary and the common reader. Rauf Abbasi, the then director of Punjabi films in Lahore fancied this beautiful script so much that he deviated from popular film-making to making a documentary on Murree. Such wonderful aspects of Murree, the queen of hills was comprehensively and appealingly researched upon and revealed by Lateef Kashmiri. for example, Murree’s history, people, culture, customs, traditions, folklore, education and politics. All in a very simple, easy, interesting, informative and inspiring manner.For instance, how the name Murree was adopted through a traditional belief that Mary of Jesus was born in this region and that over centuries, locals pronounced Mary as Murree and hence the name, Murree. Similarly, the name Ghora gali was adopted when post or mail was taken on horses from Rawalpindi to Kashmir. There was night-break as horsemen and horses rested and spent the night on a chilly hilly terrain, which was given the name of Ghora Gali. Likewise, Chitta More was named as such due to its white stones while Kashmir Point and Pindi Point due to their respective panoramic views and landscape. Soon, Lateef Kashmiri and Rauf Abbasi became good friends. The script on “Murree, Malka-e-Kohsar” was ready to be filmed as one of the most gorgeous documentaries of Pakistan for the then 16 mm projector. Later, they met Parvez Jamil, who did, on the honorary basis, an equally beautiful and befitting Urdu-to-English translation of “Murree, the Queen of Hills.” Another example includes, “Gar firdaus baroe zameenasst, hameenasst o hameenasst o hameenasst,” which means “If paradise were to dawn on Earth, it’s truly and only here on earth.”This captivating documentary, with its equally appealing Urdu-to-English translation, was encouraged by National Film Development Corporation (NAFDEC) with the objective of being shown as “Pakistan KaTasweeriKhabarnama” with feature films and envisioned to be taken on board PIA’s international flights.
Now this is SABA AKBAR ABADI, a well-known, neo-classically eastern, Urdu poet leaving a legacy of a glorious chapter in Urdu ghazal and marsia. He presented a model of an able, humble, noble and gentle disposition to be cherished. There are many different and interesting dimensions to Saba Sahib’s versatile nature. He was a man of letters without whom no mushaira or literary gathering was considered complete and from whom many sought solace, guidance and direction. A renowned poet who produced millions of thought-provoking verses in a lighter vein, being naturally and cheerfully social and sharing his ideas and vision with others indeed. Saba translated Ghalib’s Persian quatrains and Urdu mazameen of Diwan-i-Ghalib. Born on August 14, 1908, he started thinking of poetry as a child, recited his first couplet at 11 and his literary career spread over 70 years. During this period, he wrote more than a 100,000 ghazal couplets, 72 long marsias and translated over 1200 quatrains of Omar Khayyam and the complete Persian works of Amir Khusro. Saba Sahib’s style is simple natural and beautiful in as much as it conveys his true inner feelings which appear in harmony with self, nature and humanity. His well-known publications are Auraq-i-Gul, Chiragh-i-Bahar, Sabat (ghazals), Zikr-o-Fikr, Sarbakaf, Shahadat, Kunab (salam, marsia), Dast-e- Zarfishan and hum kalam (Rubaiyat). He had a special flair for marsia, the truly testing and trying form of poetry, in which he was regarded as the best after Mir Anees and Dabeer. Worth treasuring is a quiet poet’s vocal role of humbleness, simplicity and piety with a rich reservoir of awe-inspiring “hamd, naat, marsia” and a unique model of translating the entire Persian poetry of Omar Khayyam, the complete Persian works of Amir Khusro and all the Persian quatrains of MirzaGhalib poem by Movement in his own creative capacity. His father Dr. Khawaja Ali Muhammad Akbar Abadi was an office bearer of the Khilafat Committee and a member of the Congress Committee. As such, Saba’s first mushaira was chaired by HasratMohani in 1919. This political link associated Saba sahib with the Muslim League and the Pakistan Movement. Through his inspiring poetry he contributed to the inculcation and promotion of the national spirit and countered adverse propaganda in this connection. His contribution towards the Pakistan Movement came in the form of three long and invigorating poems published in May 1946 as Zam Zama-i-Pakistan, dedicated to Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. His birthday coincided with that of Pakistan which saw an ever patriotically pulsating Saba at his poetic best, producing one national poem and anthem after another. He was so engrossed in the pursuit of the higher values of life and knowledge that he forgot all about self-projection.A man who was always thinking of poetry from a very tender age and produced huge and illuminative literary masterpieces took about half a century to get his first work published. The traumatic experience of migration from India to Pakistan and his commitment to fulfill the needs of a large family may have contributed to this. During this period, he was actively occupied observing and studying various forms of literature and writing and distributing thousands of ghazals. The inner strength that he drew from faith in religion enabled him to smilingly and cheerfully brave the vagaries of life. It was with vim, vigor and vitality he produced volume after volume of humane and poetic masterpieces to cherish and relish and for research and reference purposes.