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Poet Himayat Ali Shaer passes away

July 17, 2019

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Himayat Ali Shaer
Himayat Ali Shaer

KARACHI: Veteran poet, broadcaster, playwright, prose writer, teacher and journalist Himayat Ali Shaer passed away in Canada on Tuesday. He was 93.

Himayat Sahab rose quickly to prominence after having migrated from India in 1951. He was acknowledged as one of the notable Pakistani Urdu poets of post-independence era and won awards for his poetical works within a few years of his appearing on the horizon of Pakistani Urdu poetry.

Born Mir Himayat Ali in Aurangabad in British India on July 14, 1926, he worked for different newspapers such as Jinnah, Manzil and Hamdard, published from Hyderabad (India). He also worked for Radio Deccan (Hyderabad, India). When Deccan fell to Indian forces, Radio Deccan’s name was changed to All India Radio and Himayat Sahab was rendered jobless in 1950. After migrating to Pakistan, he joined Radio Pakistan’s Karachi station and was later transferred to Radio Pakistan’s Hyderabad (Sindh) station. He resumed his education and ultimately did his MA in Urdu from Sindh University in 1964. For about 15 years, he served Radio Pakistan as writer and broadcaster.

Himayat Sahab is considered among the Urdu poets who were just as successful and popular when they wrote songs for movies.

After having spent some 15 years in the film world, he had to return to Hyderabad (Sindh) as Pakistani movie world was passing through a lean patch, a slump from which it has not yet recovered. At that time Shiekh Ayaz, the renowned Sindhi poet and intellectual — and a friend of Himayat’s — was Sindh University’s vice chancellor. He offered Himayat Sahab a teaching post at Sindh University’s Urdu department. Himayat Sahab served Sindh University from 1976 to 1987.

Another facet of his literary works was the series of programmes that he wrote for Pakistan Television. These include centuries-old history of different poetic genres in Urdu, Sindhi and other Pakistani languages. His versified autobiography named Aina Dar Aina had been appearing in monthly Afkaar, a literary magazine published from Karachi.

Himayat Sahab’s works include Aag Mein Phool, Mitti Ka Qarz, Harf Harf Roushni, Tashnagi Ka Safar, Haroon Ki Awaz (poetry), Kitabi Chehre (dramas), Meri Dharti Mere Khwaab, Sargam (songs), Kuchh Paish Rau Kuchh Ham Safar (pen-sketches), Urdu Na’atiya Shaeri Ke Saat Sau Saal (research), Khilte Kanwal Se Log (essays), and Sheikh Ayaz: Shakhs-o-Shaer.

Himayat Sahab won several literary awards, including Adamjee Award, Presidential Award, Pride of Performance and Nigar Award.

He was known for his leftist leanings but contrary to what is usually attributed to progressive poets and writers, he did not deviate much from the traditional moulds of Urdu poetry just for the sake of it. Though much inspired by the extrinsic world, Himayat Sahab’s poetry is not devoid of inner feelings altogether and he sometimes uses the traditional vocabulary and symbols to highlight our social milieu and corrupt political scene as well, as goes his famous couplet:

Raah zan ke baare mein aur kya kahoon khul kar

Mir-e-kaaravaan yaaro! mir-e-kaaravaan yaaro!

Published in Dawn, July 17th, 2019