Sirajul Haq Memon: a versatile writer
By: Shaikh Aziz
KARACHI: In the death of Sirajul Haq Memon, Sindhi literature has lost not only an enthusiastic writer but a very committed person who applied his creative faculty for the promotion of many genres of Sindhi literature. His varied interest in fiction, linguistics and history made him a versatile writer who made some valuable contribution to literature.
All his life he worked with dedication to ensure fairness, in whatever capacity he worked. As a writer he was a clear-headed man, as a government official he left mark of hard work and as a newsman he maintained professional integrity. His writings bore an effect of sincerity and used every canvas he could lay his hands on to convey the message the situation needed.
Born on Oct 24, 1933 to a schoolteacher who had a great interest in literature, he had his schooling at Tando Jam, a suburb of Hyderabad, and after having done his matriculation from Hyderabad in 1950, he moved to Karachi. Studying at DJ National College, he also started working as a part-time sub-editor at the weekly Sindh Observer to meet the expenses of education and boarding at the Jinnah Courts. Later he shifted to Hyderabad, where he worked with Mohammad Usman Diplai at his printing press and later as an assistant in the Sindhi Adabi Board, where he along with Mohammad Ibrahim Joyo and Ghulam Rabbani Agro translated classical works from English to Sindhi.
In that organisation he worked with the quarterly Mehran, the first high standard literary magazine.
In 1957 he passed civil services examination and was appointed in the income tax department. During his government job he continued to write and meet politicians at will, which angered the government. In 1969 after Yahya Khan’s takeover as chief martial law administrator, he became one of the 303 officials summarily dismissed from service. After his forced retirement, he picked up the profession of legal consultancy and worked as an income tax lawyer.
He knew Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Bhutto personally before he joined the government. He recalled the first meeting with him in 1957 when Bhutto had written a book titled ‘Pakistan: a military state or a federal state’. He translated the book. When Bhutto formed the Pakistan People’s Party, he bought Hilal-i-Pakistan, a Sindhi daily, but shifted its place of publication from Hyderabad to Karachi. In a retired Siraj, he found an editor who could frame its policy and run the newspaper on healthy grounds. As its editor, Siraj laid some very bold lines for a newspaper by objective reporting and healthy criticism. He also set the gossip column in Sindhi journalism on modern lines.
A keen student of history, he made an unprecedented attempt to write a novel on the political developments and social conditions of Sindh in the post-Samma period.
‘Parado soyee sadd’ earned him laurels from literary critics. He also wrote a book on the origin and evolution of the Sindhi language, Sindhi boli (1964). His other works are: Dakhan maan tho sij ubhre (tr 1953), Sindh ji iqtasadi tarikh (tr 1958), Choond Amerki afsana (tr in association of Agro 1958), Ai dard hali aoo (short stories 1962), Muhinji duniya haikal viyakul (1988), Tuhinji duniya sabh rang sanwal (1989), Muhinji duniya mirgh trishna (1990). He also translated T. S. Eliot in Urdu. In the last days he was rewriting his earlier book on the origin and evolution of Sindhi and trying to accommodate new findings during the past three decades.
Siraj died in Karachi in the early hours of Saturday.