KARACHI: Writers and friends paid tribute to late novelist Abdullah Hussain, remembering him as a humble yet straightforward person.
A condolence reference was held at Arts Council on Tuesday, in which literati glorified the late author's famous novel, 'Udaas Naslain' [Sad Generations]. They described the more than 50 years old novel as his greatest contribution to the Urdu fiction.
Ahmed Shah of Arts Council said that 'Udaas Naslain' was the one novel that gained massive popularity and brought Hussain in parallel to the works of Quratulain Haider. "Whether it's from Marquez to Abdullah Hussain to Quratulain Haider, we see that a novel is a reflection of a society," he said.
Irfan Javed, who had been close to Hussain, said that the late writer was 32 years of age when he wrote 'Udaas Naslain'. According to Javed, even when Hussain appeared to be emotionally isolated on the surface, he cared deeply for his friends. "He suffered from cancer himself but used to inquire about Mustansar Hussain Tarar when he learnt that the latter was not well," said Javed. He also attributed the absence of Hussain's mother as a source of emotional vacuum that reflected throughout in his writings. "His mother died when he was six months old," Javed told the audience. "Ten days before his death, he narrated to me his dream where he was watching seagulls at the sea and one of the birds said to him that the other was his mother. He said he knew that his time had come."
Poet and critic Prof Sahar Ansari also talked about how great a gem the book 'Udaas Naslain' is. "It has been seen that if the aim is to root out interest in any book, it should be made part of the curriculum," said Ansari. "But Udaas Naslain is unique in the sense that it is still taught in MA curriculum as part of the literature of 20th century." He also said that the work of Hussain was entirely based on research, making him one of the truthful writers of Urdu.
Writer HM Naqvi of Home Boy fame said that Hussain's personality was a mix of humbleness and 'badshahat' [grandiosity]. He shared a memory of his with the deceased writer when Hussain only agreed to send Naqvi his novel on the condition that Naqvi would critique it.
Sindhi and Urdu poet Imdad Hussaini said that the problem with Urdu writers is that they are all going away and no new writers are emerging. "We need to translate his novels in other languages and prove how alive we are," he said.
Talking about the popular view that Hussain was a quiet person who preferred solitude, writer Mohammed Hanif said that he always found him to be quite open about his life. He narrated an instance when Hussain told him that it seemed to him that critics in general are not too fond of reading. "Had he read his own obituary, he would have had a good laugh and would have perhaps sworn something in Punjabi," he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 9th, 2015.