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Volumes of good

The latest Mukalma and Adbiyat are both out, and have interesting things to say

By Abrar Ahmed

The last two decades or so have witnessed the emergence of literary journals that have pushed the age-old typical ones to the side. 'Mukalma' from Karachi, one of them, has as usual appeared this month in two volumes, reminding one of 'Sher-o-hikmat' from India. Both the volumes are proof of the commitment and talent of the editor, Mubin Mirza. Those who are in this area of trade cannot fail to recognise why delays occur in the publication of such magazines and why these must be interpreted in favour of the editor.

'Mukalma' number 14 opens with 'Majalis-e-Rangeen', an interesting research article by Dr. Abul Khair Kashafi. According to the author, Rangeen was born in 1757, the year of the demise of Saraj-ud-Daula. Saadat Yar Khan Rangeen mastered seventeen languages and thirty-two publications go to his credit. It is further claimed that 'Aab-e-Hyat' by Mohammad Hussain Azad was in fact inspired by 'Majalis-e-Rangeen'.

Mohammad Hamid Shahid and Nasir Abbas Nayyar stick tenaciously to their favourite topics -- the short story and post-modernism, respectively.

Among the articles in memory of the departed, Dr. Jaffar Ahmad recalls his interactions with Hassan Abidi in a revealing but concise article. Hasan Abidi was progressive to the core and a journalist by profession. He almost ran towards poetry in the later years of his life, giving some memorable poems to Urdu -- 'Dilli Kay Taazeay' being just one of them. Ali Ahmad Fatima pays homage to the reverent scholar poet Shan-ul-Haq Haqi while Jamal Panipati is given a special section in acknowledgement of his achievements as a unique, ideologically clear and celebrated critic. Those writing about him include Syed Mazhar Jamil, Razi Mujteba, Farasat Rizvi, Dr. Tahir Masood and Dr. Rauf Parekh, giving the reader an idea of the stature of Jamal Panipati as a critic.

Issue 14 includes brilliant ghazals by Sehar Ansari, Nizam Amini, Salim Kauser, Ghulam Hussain Sajid, Jalil Aali, Rauf Amir, replete with the variety and styles of expression now peculiar to these poets, but Shahida Hassan, Razi Mujtaba and in particular Ali Iftikhar Jafari stand out among the ghazal poets.

Volume 13 of Mukalma opens with a section on short stories. Shamim Hanafi presents an objective and scholarly analysis of the contents contained in 'Dilli tha Jis ka naam' by Intizar Hussain, while Dr. Anwar Ahmad discusses the linguistic shades in Sami Ahuja's short stories.

Amjad Islam Amjad has done better in his short poems while Sabir Wasim comes out with the tender 'Aik ajeeb se Sham'. Harris Khaliq joins a group of new poets beating their drums around N. M. Reshid's masterpiece 'Hassan kuzagar'.

'Aap Biti Paap biti' is Saqi Farooqi's very interesting autobiographical narrative, which appears regularly in Mukalma. It makes an absorbing read but it remains more concerned with his 'memoirs' rather than with autobiographical elements.

Mushfiq Khawaja was a very well received and highly respected scholar of our time. Around 200 pages are reserved for him, portraying him as a pleasant, committed and marvellous intellectual. But most absorbing are his more then one hundred letters written to different writers, Tehseen Faroqi in particular, printed here.

'Mukalma' is a modern journal which refuses to break the traditional boundaries. It therefore fails to include the ever-increasing turbulence inherent to all living traditions. This impression is reinforced by the absence of the prose poem -- a poetic form so brilliantly pursued by our poets these days.

'Adabiyat' is the literary journal of the Pakistan Academy of letters, Islamabad, Iftikhar Arif being its patron in chief. Its issue no. 72 appeared this month. Among the editorial board are Mohammad Asif Butt, Dr. Rashid Hamid, Nishat Saleem and Ali Yasser.

The section of short stories features star writes like Bano Qudsia, Khalida Hussain Hussain and Ahmad Javed -- each putting forth stories in their own style and diction. Mohammad Hamid Shahid's short story, a good one too, incidentally appears both in 'Adabiyat' at 'Mukalma' simultaneously. Mushtaq Ahmad Yusufi contributes 'Khutba', while Mirza Hamed Beg presents a chapter from his novel in progress 'Anaar ke kali'.

Mohammad Mansha Yad is perhaps the most applauded short writer among his contemporaries. His themes have their roots in the social set up of the rural Punjab. Here he shows himself second only to Ahmad Nadim Qasmi. Included in the journal are his memoirs titled as 'Yadain', seemingly an extension of his fictional work.

N.M. Rashid's letter to his wife, published in 'Adabiyat', reveals a typical husband, but one can identify faint pointers to what Rashed intended to do in life. The letter also brings forth his nationalistic stance. Shahzad Ahmad's scholarly article on Iqbal helps the reader to understand Iqbal as a phenomenon.

The bulk of the pages is occupied by poetry. Wazir Agha, Aftaab Iqbal Shamim, Yasmin Hamid, Shahin Mufti, Mansura Ahmad and Anwaar Fitrat are impressive in their poems, while Mohsin Ehsan, Khurshid Rizvi, Anwar Shaur, Khalid Ahmad, Abbas Tabish and Sad Usmani excel in their ghazals.

Zafar Iqbal earns substantial space in both the magazines and uses it to his advantage. 'Adabiyat' reserves a special section for him, beginning with a letter by Gopi Chand Narang endorsing him as a major poet of our times. This is followed by an interview and two articles written by Zafar Iqbal. In his article on Ghalib he gets carried away while dismissing Ghalib as a great poet. His article is not only replete with contradictions but also betrays his poor of command of Persian, so essential to understanding Ghalib.

His two articles in 'Mukalma' revolve around the question of his own placement among contemporary poets. He fails to find any depth in Faiz and declares Akhtar ul Iman an ordinary poet. After a gesture of guarded acknowledgment, he goes on to dismiss Munir Niazi. Then he declares Ahmad Mushtaq a better poet then Nasir Kazmi -- an opinion I tend to agree with -- but on what grounds, he never says.

We meet a totally different Zafar Iqbal in his ghazals in both the magazines; they have an element of high seriousness very rare with him. A dominant strain of melancholy runs throughout his lines. His ghazals are impressive.

Some new ghazal poets represented in 'Adabiyat' deserve our special attention and applause. Afzal Guahar, Shahid Zaman, Mensar Naqvi and Munir Fayaaz display a fresh sensibility, the pain of existence and a neo-classical element in their diction.(The News Daily 15.10.2006)

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