KARACHI: Noted Sindhi fiction writer Agha Khalid Saleem passed away on Tuesday. He had been under treatment for the past two months before he suffered a stroke and died. He was 81.
Popularly known as Agha Saleem, he contributed significantly to Sindhi short story, novel and drama and also composed poetry and translated Sindhi poetry into Urdu.
Born into a Shikarpur Pathan family, his elders had settled in Sindh during Ahmad Shah Durrani’s rule of Sindh in the 18th century. He began his schooling at his hometown and when his family moved to Hyderabad in 1948, he resumed his education there. During his college days in association with Sirajul Haq Memon, Tanvir Abbasi and Murad Ali Mirza he began writing short stories. Written in 1952, his first short story was titled Aah ay zalim samaj. After graduating from Sindh University, he joined Radio Pakistan, a job that afforded him an opportunity to satisfy his urge to write. There he wrote some wonderful plays. He ventured into the realm of novel and also composed some poetry, but soon devoted himself to writing fiction.
Whether short story or novel, he depicted the world in which reality turns into suffering and becomes the cause of ethical and moral degradation. In Oondahee dharti roshan hath, he narrates history in the form of a dancer from the Moenjodaro of 5,000 years ago. In his novelette and short stories, he dwells upon cultural values, the loss of identity and ethical values.
In 1978 he was arrested with two colleagues of Radio Pakistan, Hyderabad, for allegedly showing disrespect for the Founder of the Nation. He was prosecuted under martial law, but on the intervention of a politician, Kazi Mohammad Akbar, he was pardoned.
Agha was also among the first writers who wrote radio plays in Sindhi. His first radio play, Wapsi, was received with appreciation. It was followed by Roop Bahroop, Gulan jahera ghava and Gul chhino Girnar jo. His play Dodo Chanesar was staged also and it met with acclaim. After retirement he continued to write and his autobiography was published just last month. His short stories are a commendable contribution to literature. He also composed poetry but later concentrated on translating Shah Latif’s poetry into Urdu.
His works include: Chand ja tamanayee (short stories, 1967), Dharti roshan aahe (short stories, 1985), Roshni ji talash (novelette, 1985), Oondahee dharti roshan hath (novel), Hama-i-oost (novel, 1985), Falsafay ji kahani (translation), Gunah (short stories) Annpooro insaan (short stories), Urdu translation of Shah jo risalo (1985). His poetic anthology Pann chhan aeen chand appeared in 1986.
Four days ago he celebrated his 81st birthday. In a recent interview, he said he wrote because he wanted to satisfy his ‘latent beloved’.
Published in Dawn, April 13th, 2016