Intezar Hussain

Intezaar Hussain

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

Setting cricket aside

Two things can be quite unsettling – the high from victory and the hurt over a defeat. When the hurt is accompanied by anger the cocktail is a knockout. We are only too familiar with what it does to a people, so let me not get into its details. Let’s just be grateful then that our hurt and anger are limited to winning and losing on the cricket field. Defeat in a real war does not touch us in a way that we should lose our balance. Actually we tend to discover a bright aspect to the situation. Let us also ...

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They smuggled my poems to Delhi too

At Jamuna’s bank, I, too, got my blessed Ganges bath, so to say. These are the days of Faiz dip. The centenary festival is on the move. It is natural for Pakistan, of course, to celebrate Faiz but the person and the poetry have also won admirers far beyond our lands. India, in particular, has a claim on Faiz in that an entire epoch of Faiz’s poetry was written in the undivided India. It was also the days of the Progressive Writers’ Movement, which for a decade and a half dominated the literary scene in the subcontinent. Faiz’s poetry immediately after ...

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The truth behind the Basant ruling

The Basant prohibition has been explained officially in terms of foul play by kite flyers who use metallic wire or coat their twine with such preparations that it becomes fatal for the people in the streets who happen to get it on their throats. But the real reason is the clerics’ hatred of the festivity. They campaigned against it calling it a Hindu festival and a pagan ritual. The Muslims, they insisted, must be barred from it. It was on account of this campaign that the prohibition was proclaimed. Hindus revere and worship everything in nature. To them, the stars, the ...

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India’s barefoot ghazal

I have received from Pathankot in India a volume of eloquent Urdu poetry. A ghazal poet of the new generation is how Perveen Kumar Ashk introduces himself. Let me add that his father, the late Kalvant Roy Kanwal Hoshiarpuri, too, was a poet. He taught his son Urdu and so well that he has ventured into poetry and sprung a surprise in the name of ghazal. As I read the volume, Dua Zameen, I cannot help admiring the poet for besting even those who came up with anti-ghazal. When Maulana Hali dismissed the entire ghazal tradition, including his own work, as nightingale-and-the-rose poetry, ...

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TV talk shows: Today’s violent idiom

Why do the participants of political debates on our TV channels shout so much? And why do they all talk at the same time? And keep talking? And why, while all of them are shouting at the top of their voices, does this creature called the anchor, jump into the fray? I happened to believe that a recent debate on one of the channels, which featured a minister, a political analyst and a very decent lady on the panel, may be worth watching. To my surprise, however, the participants had all come armed and prepared for a violent exchange. The opening ...

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Do birds have it better?

John Elijah envies a sparrow’s life. Guess why? Because, he points out, sparrows do not read newspapers. This far, I agree. Sparrows are really fortunate in that they do not read newspapers. But unfortunately they do not get to read John Elijah’s essays either where they are mentioned along with Plato, Aristotle, Avicenna, Alpharabius, Firdousi, Saadi and Hafiz. I have had to read the essays and am not saying for now whether this counts for a boon or a bane. Imtiaz Ahmed has compiled this selection of John Elijah’s essays published by Bahauddin Zakariya University’s Department of Urdu. The Elijah that comes through ...

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Water: Going retro

Remember behishti, the water carrier? I had believed the man from paradise had reverted to the paradise along with his water skin. When I saw the thirsty pursuing one in a TV programme, therefore, I was quite incredulous. Lord, can this be real! But yes, there it was; in fact, there were several of them. So the water carrier is back – the Karachiites’ prayers have been answered. That was what the programme was about: unable to ensure dependable water supply by any other means the people of Karachi have been forced to recall the water carriers. As for the water ...

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Of Urdu marsia

Most of the new books I have received in the Muharram context are either collections of marsia elegies or discuss the modern Urdu marsia as a genre. Sadly, few if any books have been published in decades about the Karbala tragedy that represent historical research. I remember a book by some Egyptian scholar Maktaba-i-Jadeed had printed and which became very popular as an objective account of the tragedy. The publisher used to print a fresh edition almost every year. Ever since Maktaba-i-Jadeed closed down the book has disappeared from the market. This aside is not meant to deny the significance of ...

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Remembering the old Coffee House

Not a day goes by without somebody in the media asking me about the goings on at the Coffee House or the afternoons and evenings at the Tea House. But everybody seems to be interested only in the patrons. Wonder if anybody at all is interested in the people who waited on them and how they survived and thrived in the midst of writers, intellectuals, artists and journalists. For I am reminded today of a Coffee House waiter. Once India Coffee House closed down, Munshi Ji, moved on to Zelin’s Coffee House. After Zelin’s too had closed down I once asked ...

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Shahid Afridi: Diverse narratives

Shahid Afridi, our cricket hero these days, is best known for his sixes. Irrespective of the circumstances, and engaging all kinds of risks, he hits the ball with all the force at his command. From then on, it is entirely up to the ball. It may cross the boundary or end up just inside and be caught. On his return from Mohali he issued a statement that must rank alongside his historic sixes. Hit hard and high, the ball appeared to have landed far from the cricket field and into the political arena. There’s been a lot of hue and cry ...

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