Eminent writer, actor Enver Sajjad passes away

Updated June 08, 2019


Dr Enver Sajjad pictured with Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Asghar Nadeem Syed and Mustansar Hussain Tarar.—file photo
Dr Enver Sajjad pictured with Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Asghar Nadeem Syed and Mustansar Hussain Tarar.—file photo

LAHORE: Eminent short story writer, novelist and actor Dr Enver Sajjad was laid to rest on Friday. He passed away after a long illness at his Raiwind residence here on Thursday. He was 84.

Many from the worlds of showbiz and literature attended his funeral, including playwright Asghar Nadeem Syed.

Dr Sajjad, who was also an actor, dancer and painter, was one of the progressive writers and received accolades throughout his life from other well-known writers.

He was arguably a polymath and a Renaissance man. His works in fiction — including Chauraha, Janam Roop, Khushiyon Ka Bagh, Neeli Notebook, Talash-i-Wajood, Zard Konpal, Rassi Ki Zanjeer, Nigar Khana Saba and Samandar — were regarded as modern short stories. He was known in Pakistan and India as the leading light of short story writing, but was also credited with introducing abstract writing style in Urdu short stories.

Dr Sajjad’s first novelette, Rag-i-Sang, was published in 1955. His other works include Istaaray (1970), Aaj and Pehli Kahaniyan among others. He was awarded the President’s Pride of Performance in 1989.

His friends say he was an all-rounder, being involved in showbiz as well as intellectual gatherings. Even his academic background was varied. He completed his medicine studies (MBBS) from the King Edward Medical University (then college), Lahore, and later got a Diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene from London. He then practised at his father’s clinic in Lahore’s Chuna Mandi for a while.

He was passionate about his practice and never let any literary or cultural engagement stop him from being at his clinic on time to tend to his underprivileged patients.

Along with being a member of cultural and literary organisations, he was also active in politics, having had a long affiliation with the Pakistan Peoples Party.

“We have seen many great people whose ideas and principles wavered during the last days of their life, but not Dr Enver Sajjad,” said Abid Hussain Abid, a member of the Anjuman-i-Tarraqi Pasand Mus­annafin or the Progressive Writers Movement.

“Dr Sajjad, till the end of his days, spoke up against the capitalist system and never let go of his values and principles.”

Mr Abid, along with several others from the writer and artist communities, spoke about the loss that they all felt on the passing away of Dr Sajjad. “Such people have inner strength and so do their principles,” said Mr Abid. “For this very reason we presented him with a Lifetime Achievement Award in February this year, which we presented to him at his home. He was very happy about it.”

According to Shamsur Rehman Farooqi, Dr Sajjad’s stories did not become a social reality, but transcended it. His characters, albeit nameless, are symbolic and he actually elevated them to mythology, not with outward attributes like a nation or creed, but purely through their physical and mental states.

Writer and poet Ashfaq Saleem Mirza described Dr Sajjad as a kind of Midas, who turned everything he touched to gold. “He was the most dynamic person I have met. A lot is said about his writing but not his artistic side.”

He said Dr Sajjad even took dance classes, and was a splendid actor. He had a great hand in strengthening the artist community through trade unionism and was also involved in Alhamra’s affairs, Mr Mirza added.

Published in Dawn, June 8th, 2019