Students asked to learn from writers, not politicians
ISLAMABAD: Students should read books by Intizar Hussain to save their language from being tainted by that used by politicians on all sides, especially that spoken outside the Supreme Court.
This was the advice Irfan Siddiqui, adviser to the prime minister on National History and Literary Heritage, gave at a literary event held on the eve of the first death anniversary of the prolific Urdu writer.
A remark by former diplomat and senator Akram Zaki that Intizar Hussain used “very polite language” in his literary works and in his daily life provoked the ‘mind your language’ at the event that was arranged by the fellowship of retired faculty members of the federal government institutions.
“But the language the politicians of government and opposition speak nowadays cannot be called language of civilised people,” Mr Zaki said. That appeared a cue for Mr Siddiqui.
He said the books by Intizar Hussain help in building one’s personality. So, students must buy his books and read them, he advised.
“Unfortunately, we have stopped reading books due to which our language has changed and has led to downfall of nations,” he said. Praising Intizar Hussain as “the greatest fiction writer of the (last) century,” he said: “Our nation may have to wait for many centuries to have a writer of his calibre.”
“Intizar discussed at the same time old and current issues. Going through just a few paragraphs of any of his story would lead the reader to identify who has written it,” he noted.
National Book Foundation Managing Director Dr Inamul Haq Javed said Intizar used to frequent Pak Tea House in Lahore and budding writers could been seen around his table straining to soak in his views. “Mir Taqi Mir impressed Intizar more than Ghalib,” he said.
Pakistan Academy of Letters Chairman Dr Qasim Boghio recalled that Intizar Hussain migrated to Pakistan after Partition, along with the writers Hasan Askari and Ahmed Saleem. That mass migration deeply influenced his personality and is reflected in his literary works.
Writer Mohammad Hameed Shahid noted that Intizar Hussain was remembered at every literary event that he has attended, at home and abroad, over the last one year.
President of Fellowship of Federal Government Institutions’ Old Faculty Prof Qaisra Hameed Alvi said she felt Intizar’s presence in the very event, with a smile on his face as always.
“Whenever he visited Islamabad, he used to stay with us. My whole family has great memories of Intizar Hussain,” she said.
Intizar Hussain’s friend Hameed Alvi was there too but could not speak because of health issues. His US-based daughter Dr Sara Alvi spoke for him, saying the world is not same for intellectuals after the departure of the gifted writer.
She said Mr Intizar Hussain was fascinated by technological advancements and used to learn from her how to use different features of cell phone.
Prof Samina Raheem, Head of the Urdu Department at Islamabad Model College for Girls F-7/2, where the event was held, thought that it were the travails of the partition of the subcontinent that made the sensitive Intizar Hussain a great writer.
Intizar’s grandson, Ali Raza Batalvi, said as a child he was close to him but became aware only later how lucky he was to live with a great soul.
Intizar Hussain had no children of his own and had adopted his niece.
Intizar Hussain, born on December 7, 1923, in Dibai, India, died on February 2 last year in Lahore. He wrote around 40 books, among them Gali Koochay, Kankari, Din aur Dastan, Shehr-i-Afsos, Kachhuay, Khaimay Say Door, Khali Pinjra, Morenama and Sheharzad Kay Naam were mentioned.
His readership has been global. Some of his works have been translated in English and other languages. He received many literary awards in Pakistan, India and the middle eastern countries. In 2007, he received Sitara-e-Imtiaz, the highest Pakistani civil award.