A.HAMEED made his appearance in the field of Urdu fiction in the early years of Pakistan. Soon he gained popularity as a romantic short story writer. But he did not stay long in the field and became engaged in writing for television, a dailies newspaper and popular magazines.
Recently, after a long absence from the literary scene, he was seen at a literary sitting especially arranged for him at the Lahore Arts Council. The chairman of the council's governing body, Ataulhaq Qasmi, welcomed him and paid compliments to his neglected art.
Hameed Akhtar was the chairperson of the event. A few writers including Saleem Akhtar and Asghar Nadeem Syed spoke briefly about his precious contribution to the genre of Urdu short story with particular reference to his unique romantic trend which won prominence.
In the end A. Hameed read one of his short stories. Although he was more eloquent when, after the meeting ended, he was among his admirers and recalled his journeys to distant cities in a romantic vein.
Seeing him talking thus I was reminded of the early years of Pakistan when among the literary crowd in Lahore three young writers — two poets and one fiction writer — stood distinguished. They were three romantic souls wandering aimlessly from one restaurant to the other. They were Nasir Kazmi, Muneer Niazi and A. Hameed.
In fact those years, that it the first decade of Pakistan's existence may be seen as the romantic period in the history of our literature. Strangely enough, the great migration at the time of Partition brought in its wake a wave of romanticism which informed the writings of many poets and fiction writers.
Incidentally, all the three writers mentioned above happened to be migrants who came from different towns of East Punjab. They wistfully remembered their places of birth and all what was associated with them. Nasir Kazmi wrote
Muneer Niazi wrote a poem titled Khanpur Ai Khanpur and he wept while reading it in a sitting of the Halqa-i-Arbab-i-Zauq.
A. Hameed, who hailed from Amritsar, grew romantic while remembering the days he spent there. The fact was that none of them could afford to be factual when describing the past as under the spell of migration everything from it had undergone a romantic transformation.
Along with the remembrance of things past and times lost, these romantics had also developed a love for nature. They talked much of birds and flowers and trees. And when described in a romantic way these birds, flowers and trees carried something magical in them.
While writing stories in this vein, A. Hameed added something more to them. That something may be defined as his craze for distant lands. He says that while he was still a young boy he could not reconcile with the plans chalked out for him by his father, so he left his home and took to wandering for a few years.
Going from city to city he arrived at Calcutta and for some time came under the spell of what is called Bengal ka Jadoo. He then proceeded to Burma and came under the spell of coconut trees, Burmese girls and Buddhist temples. He also made a trip to Sri Lanka which also held an attraction for him.
These wanderings too provided much material for his romantic stories. When his very first short story was published under the title Manzil Manzil, it earned him a name as a short story writer of quality.
In the world of Urdu fiction Rafiq Husain was the one who, according to A. Hameed, inspired him the most. Rafiq Husain wrote about jungles and animals which made him his favourite writer.
But critics in general found Hameed to be deeply under the influence of Krishn Chandar. He took lessons in romantic realism from him and wrote stories under that influence. On that basis he won favour during the Progressive Writers' Movement.
His love for nature, which tempted him to talk about flowers, birds and trees, carries some meaning in relation to our times. It may be seen as a protest against the industrial age which seems bent upon crushing human values in general.
But as has been said before, he did not stay long in the field of serious fiction. His was a meteoric rise as a short story writer and he soon turned to popular writing and withdrew from the literary scene.
Credit goes to Ataulhaq Qasmi who in his capacity at the Lahore Art Council has tried to bring him back into the literary world.