LAHORE: Punjab writer Nain Sukh says his short stories describe the life of his maternal and paternal families as well as himself.

He said he could not say whether his latest book was better than his previous books or not but he could claim that each book was different from others.

He was speaking at the launch of his latest short stories collection, titledJogi, Sap, Tarah,at Punjabi Khoj Garh at Laliani on Sunday.

Agreeing with the speakers that he made the downtrodden subject of his fiction, Nain Sukh said the description did not induce just sympathy as it portrays their life as it was.

Writer and researcher Iqbal Qaiser pointed out two stories of the collection on classical Punjabi poet Piro Preman and Channan Pir, saying it seemed that the writer was trying to understand the origins of the Punjabi culture. He said in the undercurrent of these two stories was the history of Punjab, originating from Rajasthan, referring to the villages of Rajputs over the swathes of ‘Lehnda Punjab’.

Punjabi writer and publisher Zubair Ahmed gave the background of the previous books of Nain Sukh. He termed the author’s latest book as ‘pure fiction’ in comparison to his earlier works. He said the works of the author were a symbol of culmination of Punjabi short story.

Mr Zubair said that Nain Sukh’s stories were not mere works of imagination but they were based on years of research.

“These short stories are an amalgamation of history, mythology, sociology and literature. Their subject is the ‘wretched of the earth’, those living on the lowest ebb of the Punjabi society.”

Mr Zubair pointed out a story, La Illa, in the collection, saying it was a scathing reply of the author to a section of Lahore’s feminist circles that had protested against his short story in his earlier collection,Aai Puray Di Wa, some years back. He was referring to the story,Wey Kehra Aen, based on the life of Punjabi poet Nasreen Anjum Bhatti.

Poet Samina Asma, who presided over the launch, said if the writer himself was not truthful, he could not create genuine characters, true to life. She lauded Nain Sukh for truthful portrayal of women characters.

Iqbal Haider Butt pointed out the elements of history in the stories of Nain Sukh and his play with language. He said the underlying theme of the stories is the suppression against the downtrodden by the strong groups in society that snatch the lands of the former. Referring to various dimensions of Nain Sukh’s fiction, he said it offered a lot for political scientists, anthropologists and historians to explore as it recorded the development of society.

Amir Riaz Tutu and Naseer Ahmed also spoke.

Published in Dawn, January 4th, 2021

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