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Anis Nagi dies in harness

October 08, 2010

LAHORE, Oct 7: Literati and intellectual Anis Nagi passed away here on Thursday. He was 71. Nagi’s family told Dawn that he visited the Punjab Public Library on Thursday to deliver a lecture to MPhil students, where he suffered a cardiac arrest. He was taken to the Mayo Hospital but could not survive.

His son Dr Daniyal Nagi, who is working with the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital & Research Centre, told Dawn that his father on Wednesday morning had shared his worries about the ailing Munoo Bhai and said he wanted to visit him.

Dr Daniyal said his father was upset for the last few days. “A member of the Punjab Public Library for the last 50 years, he advised me to gift his books to the library after his death,” he said. Nagi was a writer, a poet and a critic. Dr Daniyal said he was an upright man who led his life with honesty and dignity. “My father went on cycling on Thursday as his routine exercise but didn’t know it was his last day,” he added.

According to his elder brother Sirjees, Nagi was born at Sheikhupura in 1939. He did his matriculation from the Muslim High School No 2 and inter, graduation and master’s in Urdu from the Government College, Lahore. Later, he got a doctorate in Urdu literature. In early years of his lectureship at the Government College, Lahore, and later at the Government College, Faisalabad, he cleared PCS examination. He retired in grade 21 as a PCS officer, Sirjees added.

He told this correspondent that after Anis Nagi’s death, two brothers are left. “Two brothers have died. One was in the army and ever since he became a POW in India there is no news about him. Another brother is in the USA.” Nagi was a towering personality in the world of literature. He wrote novels, poetry, short-stories and did translation of various literary pieces and collections into Urdu language. Criticism was his forte.

Zahid Masood, a close friend of Nagi, told Dawn that he (Nagi) introduced new trends in Urdu literature through translation of various literatures published in English and French. He said Nagi wrote over 50 books on genres like poetry, criticism, short-story, translation and columns. Besides, Mr Masood said, Nagi also wrote his autobiography by the name of “Aik Adhoori Sarguzasht” and did columns in English-language newspapers.

Qazi Javed, a literary figure, said Nagi never wrote popular literature. He had a liberal approach and he never compromised on principles. “Nagi Sahib was a regular at Pak Tea House and in those days he used to live at a The Mall residence. He said Nagi also played a major role in the 1960’s in the Punjabi movement.

Lahore Arts Council Board of Governors chairman Ataul Haq Qasmi said Nagi was a man who wrote a lot but never compromised on principles.

Ahmed Aqeel Ruby, writer and intellectual, said that in his view Nagi was the ‘Angry Man’ of literature. He used to give his opinion straightforwardly. Mr Ruby said Nagi wrote like French writers without expecting any praise from literary circles; he wrote selflessly. “Most of my books have preface written by Anis Nagi -- a great a writer and a great man”.

Among Nagi’s productions are novels such as “Deewar kay phichay”, “Qila”, “Aik garam mausam ki jhani” and “Naraz Aurtain”. One of his books on criticism is “Tasawarat and Maqalat” and “Janam aik mausum” is the title of one of his poetry books.

Pakistan Academy of Letters chairman Fakhar Zaman in his condolence message expressed his deep sorrow and grief on the death of Anis Nagi. “Urdu literature has lost a great writer whose vacuum cannot be filled for years to come,” he said.

The PAL also published a book last year on Anis Nagi’s personality and contribution to Urdu literature. His novel “Camp” had won a prestigious award in 1998.

Nagi was laid to rest at the graveyard of Iqbal Town’s Raza Block. Earlier, his Namaz-i-Janaza was offered at the Allama Iqbal Open University which is adjacent to his house. Prominent among those present were Ataul Haq Qasmi, Younus Javed, Abid Hasan Manto, Zahid Masood, Qazi Javed, Perveen Sajal, Irij Muabrik and PAL Resident Director Altaf Ahmed Qureshi.

Qul will be held between Asr and Maghrib prayers at the mosque near Nagi’s residence, 340 Raza Block, Allama Iqbal Town. He is survived by a widow, a son and a daughter.