Paying tribute to a legendary humourist
Of all the literary genres humour is the most difficult one as it exposed relatively quickly the evils of society. The humorist had to be very cautious about where the fine line lay between quality humour and indecent joke-making. Mushtaq Ahmed Yousufi masterfully disguised crude gestures with his choice of literary words such that the meaning stayed intact.
Although Yousufi Sahib was the most widely read Urdu writer of the twentieth century he wrote only five books during his entire literary career of more than 50 years. But as people love his style all of his books were republished to meet the demand of his fans.
Mushtaq Ahmed Yousufi was the undisputed champion of Urdu satirical and humour writing and with his demise on 20th June the famous ‘Yousufi era of humour’ has come to an end he was 95-year-old.
The fans of Mushtaq Ahmed Yousufi have been savouring his celebrated books for the past two decades, enjoying every page and taking delight in each sentence. And now his fans have gathered recently at Arts Council Pakistan, Karachi to pay tribute to Mushtaq Ahmed Yousufi.
The auditorium of the Arts Council was jam packed with fans where distinguished artist Zia Mohyeddin read excerpts from writer Mushtaq Ahmed Yousufi`s selected works.
Under the title “A legend paying tribute to another legend” the afternoon started with musician Arshad Mahmud reading out a piece that Yousufi Sahib wrote on Zia Mohyeddin.
Zia Mohyeddin read pieces of Mushtaq Ahmed Yousufi`s work that had not been read before. This made already enthusiastic audience keener. “Yousufi was not merely a satirist, but his writings had depth and wisdom,” he said.
Zia Mohyeddin presented the excerpts ranging on subjects such as the art of translation to the art of dancing. The first excerpts were a must read for those who are interested in translating works of fiction and poetry from one language to another. Giving examples from Shakespeare’s plays “Antony and Cleopatra” Yousufi Sahib made easy nearly impossible practice of translation for the readers.
Mohyeddin read Yousufi`s writings with such gusto and liveliness that everybody understood clearly what the writer meant to say. Some humour filled passages made audience laugh out loud.
Mohyeddin read all excerpts with great deal of virtuosity. He knew very well how to handle the text to create visual impact of the writings.
Yousufi Sahib’s books are a recollection of events, encounters and discussions with many different people having totally different personalities and professions. The books offers evergreen linguistic twists with poetry and powerful description along with choice of words as sublime as ever which are the attributes of Yousufi Sahib. And of course digression, which has always been his hallmark.
While going through the books one feels the delightful sketches and enjoys his memoirs. He had always been careful about his diction and adds subtle elements of surprise to humour. He was also meticulous about the usage and application of words which gave strength to his writings.
His works are not only the epitome of Urdu literary humour, but his books are the representation of Urdu literature’s optimum that a very few writers have produced.
He was one of those lucky literary figures, that have been appreciated, applauded and credited their efforts before they breathed their last. He was awarded Sitara-i-Imtiaz in 1999 and Hilal-i-Imtiaz Award in 2002, the highest literary honours by the Government of Pakistan.