It was a week marked by literary and cultural activities. Not that things on the sociopolitical front didn’t happen — they were just upstaged by a series of literary events in which future giants of Urdu literature featured with all their aplomb.
It all began with the announcement of literary awards for stories penned for children given away by the Urdu Development Board and the Pakistan Writers Guild. The names of the award-winners that were given to the media on Jan 27, 1964 included the likes of Razia Fasih Ahmed, Anwer Inayatullah and Nikhat Sultana for writing best short stories.
Following up on the last week’s news item about Lyric Cinema using its parking space as a godown, the District Magistrate Karachi suspended the license of the cinema and closed it down. It must have taken cinema lovers by surprise when they reached the facility on Jan 28, but reading the newspapers would have made the matter clear to them. Well, the District Magistrate seemed to be quite busy that day because apart from the suspension order he also, under Section 144 Cr PC, prohibited for one month the holding of any meeting of five or more persons in public places within the limits of the district. It was done in order to prevent disturbance of public peace and order.
You don’t know if the order was obediently paid heed to by the public because on Jan 30 workers of the Central Workshop KDA staged a tool down strike to demonstrate against the abnormal delay in the payment of their outstanding dues. Apparently, before the magistrate could take notice of the situation they resumed work after a KDA high-up assured them that their grievances would be redressed.
Alesandro Bausani was a famous Italian orientalist who was well versed in Persian, Islamic and Urdu literatures, and could speak Urdu. He visited Karachi at the fag end of Jan 1964 and attended a few events. The scholar, at a reception given in his honour by the Pakistan Urdu Academy on Jan 30, urged Urdu writers and poets to build a progressive literature and devote themselves to new creative works. He was of the opinion that Urdu had a unique quality of continuity which other Islamic literatures lacked. Whether our Urdu writers and poets listened to him is difficult to say.
On Feb 1, the annual Adamji Prize for literature was announced. Guess who were the winners in the Urdu category? The best novel went to Udas Naslein by Abdullah Husain and the best collection of poems was given to Ahmed Nadeem Qasmi’s book Dasht-i-Wafa. Yes, both gentlemen are literary giants and Udas Naslein was in 2013 celebrated, in Abdullah Husain’s presence, at an International Urdu Conference in connection with the book’s 50 years of publication.
The other books which won the award were: Ro-U-dra Korotite (collection of Bengali poems) by Shamsur Rehman and Sarang Bo-U (Bengali novel) by Shahidullah Kaiser. Commendation letters were given to eminent poet and writer Sheikh Ayaz for translating Shah Latif’s works into Urdu, Risala Shah Abdul Latif, and East Pakistani poet M Faruq for his collection of poems Nothingness.Dawn.