Reprint of Saqi’s Japan Edition launched
KARACHI: A reprint of the 1936 edition of the reputed magazine Saqi’s Japan Edition containing Japanese stories edited by Shahid Ahmed Dehlvi was launched at the Japanese Consulate on Monday afternoon.
Consul General of Japan Toshikazu Isomura presided over the event. He said the publication of Saqi’s Japan number was made possible because of the assistance of Noorul Hasan Barlas, who taught at an educational institution in Japan and stayed in that country from 1922 to 1949. The edition provided information about Japan to its Indian readers. Such a journal should also be published in our day and age. It would help bring Pakistan and Japan closer.
Prof Dr Moinuddin Aqeel said that when he was a student he had seen the aforementioned edition of Saqi at Ghalib Library. Perhaps it was still lying there. Also, he had a student from Japan who was once a paying guest at Mrs Barlas’s home.
Dr Aqeel said the late Mr Dehlvi worked hard to collect material for the magazine. Prior to that, he had published two special numbers, one of which focused on Azeem Baig Chughtai. Mr Barlas had an important role to play in the Japan edition because he had lived in that country.
Dr Aqeel told the audience that certain other things pertaining to Japan must also be looked at, such as Nawab Rampur’s visit to the country as part of the start of his world tour in 1885. Another example is the Urdu translation by Maulana Zafar Ali Khan of a work based on the Russia-Japanese war (1904).
Writer Asif Farrukhi said Saqi was one of the important literary and cultural magazines of its time. The material published in it, to date, holds significance. A marked feature of Mr Dehlvi’s effort was that he published in his magazine stories by writers who later became legends –– Sadat Hasan Manto and Ismat Chughtai being two prominent examples.
Mr Farrukhi said Saqi also had a cultural and political dimension. The edition being discussed was published in 1936 when the Progressive Writers Movement was heading towards its zenith, opposition against British imperialism was on the rise and the entire world was about to engage in a world war in which Japan and Britain would be facing each other. India’s fascination for Japan too was increasing, and the magazine was a testimony to it, which suggested to its readers that looking up to Britain wasn’t fruitful, therefore focusing on the East with its rich cultural traditions was an option.
Mr Farrukhi lamented that despite being a high-quality magazine, today not many copies of Saqi are available. Like the Japan edition, it had a [Azeem Baig] Chughtai Number which is hard to find. The Japan edition was special because in an era where there was no internet, Mr Dehlvi managed to collect a great deal of material for it.
In that connection Noorul Hasan Barlas’ name must be mentioned who, with his wife, lent help to Mr Dehlvi. One more name was that of Mirza Mohammad Askari who, upon Mr Dehlvi’s insistence, wrote short stories. He was one of the first Indians who visited Hiroshima after 1945 and penned a story about it.
Mr Farrukhi said Mr Dehlvi was known both for his literary achievements (writer, editor, translator, etc) and as a musician.
Sadia Rashid mentioned the old adverts that have been published in the collection like they used to in old times.
Iqbal Khursheed lauded efforts of Khurram Sohail and the Pak-Japan Literature Forum for making the launch possible.
Publisher of the book M. Ilyas talked about the moral values that the Japanese people have which we should also emulate.
M. Owais welcomed and Saima (Mr Dehlvi’s daughter) thanked the guests. Khurram Sohail conducted the launch.