KARACHI: A collection of Urdu short stories titled Jo Dil Nikle to Dumm Nikle written by Dr Shershah Syed was launched at the T2F on Thursday evening.
Pointing out the salient features of the stories included in the book, distinguished scholar Karan Singh said they reminded him of an Urdu verse ‘Sarsari tum jahaan se guzre/ warna her ja jahaan-i-deegar tha’ (you saw the world fleetingly / otherwise each nook and cranny was a world unto itself).
He said as a writer Dr Syed brought to light those aspects of society which were apparent but not everyone tended to notice them. He said the first story that the author had penned was about his mother, about her struggle in life, and about the fact that her husband encouraged her to acquire education because of which she was able to help society.
Mr Singh said Dr Syed had picked subjects which were difficult to discuss in the public arena because they touched upon the problems of a suffocating society.
He first mentioned a story ‘Naqabil-i-Muaafi’ which focused on the issue of forced conversions, saying that though the issue was rampant in Sindh, it was since a case was highlighted by the media that people had begun to talk about it. He said it was hard to speak on the subject in a ‘direct’ way, which was why the short story format had the ability to tackle it with more depth. He said Dr Syed’s stories carried meaningfulness (maqsadiat).
Since he was a doctor, members of his community sometimes shared events and incidents with him that could not be shared with everyone. He would give them the shape of stories.
Mr Singh said in ‘Sadak Maharaaj’ the writer had spoken about a Hindu character for whom wealth and development changed things, as a result of which he began to worship a road.
Highlighting the finer points of the author’s narrative prowess, he said it had the charm of imaginativeness, and the way he gave details (juziyaat) of his characters and situations that they found themselves in, was impressive. He said since the writer was a doctor, it may have helped him in developing his style.
Mr Singh said Dr Syed had also written on a sensitive topic like faith. In that regard he gave the example of a piece involving Arab characters. He said in the story ‘Taliban’ the writer had done a different thing: instead of showing the character of a suicide bomber as someone who was not related to those who brainwashed him into doing so, in his story a father urged his son to become the bomber. Summing up his speech on the book, he said it gave the reader the idea as to where society was headed and made the reader ponder over it.
After Mr Singh’s address Dr Syed read out excerpts from six of his stories. He began with ‘Naqabil-i-Muaafi’, which was followed by ‘Sauda’, ‘Sadak Mahaaj’, ‘Zakhmi’, ‘Taliban’ and ‘Marey Huay Zindah Loag’. All of them were moving tales, told with a great deal of sensitivity.
Perhaps ‘Zakhmi’, in which an Indonesian woman is ill-treated by an Arab man and his son, was the most poignant of the lot. Once he was done reading the excerpts, he told the audience that certain parts of all of his stories were based on real life events.
Answering a question put to him by an audience member on how he became interested in writing fiction, Dr Syed said he enjoyed writing stories. He said invariably he personally knew the characters that he wrote about. He said since he was a doctor, members of his community sometimes shared stories with him which could not be shared with everyone; and he would give them the shape of stories.
Published in Dawn, February 24th, 2016