KARACHI: Lamenting that the homes of certain literary giants have been disposed of, writer Imdad Hussaini stressed on Friday evening the need to preserve such places for posterity.

The noted Sindhi writer and poet was speaking at the launch of Koel Shehr ki Katha, a collection of poetry by Hasan Mujtaba, a poet and journalist now living in New York, held at T2F. The book contains poems in Urdu, Punjabi and English.

Referring to a poem by Hasan on Amrita Pritam, Imdad sahib deplored that the home of the renowned Indian poet had been disposed of. Similarly, he said, in Pakistan the home of Shaikh Ayaz had been sold out, keeping both states on the same page where indifference to intellectuals was concerned. He clearly did not seem to pin much hope on the present rulers. He said the Sindh government had sold off some 2,900 homes built by the Turkish government for the people affected by the 2010 devastating floods in the province.

Imdad sahib said Urdu could enrich itself by absorbing worthy things from other regional languages. Reciting some lines from a poem by Hasan, he said the verses had the idiom of the Sindhi language. “It seems that a Sindhi poem is written in Urdu.”

He praised Hasan’s poetry and recalled his meeting with the poet in the US, where he had asked the poet to send him his poems in Pakistan for publication, but he had not done that so far.

Poet Fahmida Riaz wished that a political resistance movement like that of the Zia-era be launched in the country. Addressing Hasan, who was interacting with the gathering through Skype from his home in the United States, she said if the poet in self-exile could come over, they could probably launch such a movement together with like-minded people.

She said the political parties now did not raise their voice for the good of the people and only cried foul when their own activists were arrested on various charges. Condemning religious extremism, she said now “they have grown so strong that civilian forces cannot match them and only the army could fight that force”.

She said Hasan’s was an excellent example of poetry written in exile.

Mazhar Leghari, who had arrived from Islamabad in the middle of the event, excused himself for his late appearance. He excused himself also for reading out a long piece on Hasan’s poetry. He admitted that the essay was meant for publication. It was, however, so good that the audience not only heard it through quietly, but the smiles on their faces showed that they were also enjoying it.

Momin Khan also shared anecdotes from his meetings with Hasan and made the audience laugh.

Novelist Mohammad Hanif moderated the programme.

The other speakers included Farjad Nabi, co-director of Zinda Bhaag, a joint venture of Indian and Pakistani artists.

Published in Dawn, August 29th, 2015

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