Intezar Hussain

Intezaar Hussain

An eminent Urdu fiction writer who writes short stories and novels, and also columns for newspapers in English.

A worthy enemy

Is America really our Enemy No 1? I am not the one to raise the question. It’s the headline on a political analysis by Raza Rumi. But you know how sometimes a single line in a long poem says all that the poem is meant to say? I thought this was just the kind of headline and have therefore borrowed it. Rumi says that at a gathering of Pakistanis in the United States, our ambassador to that country asked the audience who they thought posed the greatest danger to Pakistan. Was it India, he asked, the US or Pakistanis themselves? There ...

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A conspiracy in Lahore

The best thing about the clouds over Lahore’s skies is that they do not linger. They come scudding, shower various parts of the city with their respective shares of rain and take their leave. If they arrive in the night, they get done by morning. If they darken the horizon in the morning, they are finished by evening, having restored to the city its brilliant sun. However, this is not the way monsoons are known to behave. Once they arrive they do not leave in a hurry. The rain goes on and on until azans are called from the mosques ...

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Revolution, Bhagat Singh style

A man admitted today to being taken entirely by surprise two days ago. He had bought the ticket for a theatre performance at Alhamra but on entering the darkened hall, found it resonating with chants for revolution. He says he paused and then reluctantly exited the hall, only to be assured by a bystander that the activity at the hall was not political and that it was indeed a theatre performance. The play is about Bhagat Singh and the slogan now belongs to history though contemporary politics may have no use for it. The times we are talking about were ...

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Falling ill

I came across Hameed Akhtar last week and found him quite out of sorts. He complained that even after he had written a column about his failing health none of his friends had come visiting to inquire after him. I felt so embarrassed and yet, I realised, the only person really responsible for it was himself. His column about himself was followed immediately by one that made me forget his illness. Even when I recalled the previous column, I was convinced that the latter column could not have been written by an ailing man. It was about how mushairas, the ...

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Peace in our times

I read two columns on the trot this morning – one by Ataul Haq Qasmi and the other by Nazir Naji – and ended up sadder than I already was. The fact is I try my best but there are times when what is happening around you just cannot be ignored. Such are the days we live in. The stunning incidents in Karachi have cast a pall of gloom and all kinds of apprehensions assail the people. Only the other day we saw Lt Yasir Abbas, a handsome youth, being lowered into a grave with military honours at a barren ...

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Bin Laden notwithstanding

How does one relate the three days of discussions on novels, short stories, poetry, music and paintings at the Art Council with the context? It has been open season for terrorism for a while now but Osama bin Laden’s killing was a bolt from the blue. The Lahore Arts Council, however, went ahead with a literary and cultural conference to the delight of many and surprise of many others. I was reminded of the good old days, and some bad old days. There was a time when Justice SA Rehman used to be the chairman and somebody from the art ...

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Qasmi according to Malik

Mansoora Ahmed, the adopted daughter of Ahmed Nadeem Qasmi, has passed away. When Qasmi Sahib died, she was orphaned like nobody else was for sadly everybody’s attitude towards her changed in no time. I had just received Nadeem Shinasi, Fateh Muhammad Malik’s latest work, of which more than a quarter is dedicated to letters written by Qasmi Sahib to his dear friend. One of the letters made me pause. How could it have been published, I wondered? Just then the phone bell rang and Tasneem Manto asked if I had learnt about Mansoora’s death. Let me just say here that while ...

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The storyteller-cum-wrestler

When A Hameed first showed up at the Tea House in 1948, you could not have guessed that he was a fugitive from a wrestling arena. Everything about him spoke instead of a romantic soul that had drifted in our direction. A short story called ‘Manzil, manzil’, one of his first, had been published recently. The romantic bent and the storytelling technique had encouraged some connoisseurs to believe that he was another Krishan Chander in the making. A Hameed himself would later tell us that tradition and upbringing had required him actually to take on Keekar Singh’s son. His father, ...

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Noisy revolutionaries: The worst kind of pollution

I have just finished reading an Environmental Protection Agency report on pollution. It talks of the many ways our environment gets degraded. Besides other kinds of pollution it talks of noise, pointing out that when we make a noise we cause a degradation of our environment. Slogan chanting, it would appear then, is a major cause of environmental pollution in our times. Irrespective of whether we shout to welcome a revolution or to decry American imperialism, the noise causes pollution and affects our health. Let me clarify here, however, that it is just me, myself, risking my neck here by making the ...

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Two sides of Iqbal

April, on account of his death anniversary, has been Iqbal’s month for us. Too much has been written and published on Iqbal over the decades for me to say something comprehensive about it here. The Iqbal Academy and the Academy of Letters have produced the voluminous Iqbaliat kay sau saal (One hundred years of Iqbal studies), but if you expect it to represent the gist of all that has been written on the subject over the decades you’ll be disappointed. In fact, let me warn you of a failing up front. But first let me mention another anthology that attempts ...

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