A humorist can identify foolishness in people’s habits.


Mushtaq Ahmed Yusufi, undoubtedly one of Urdu’s greatest satirist and humour writers. passed away in Karachi on 20 June 2018 at the age of 94 years after a protracted illness.

Born in 1923 in Rajasthan, Yusufi got his education from Agra and Aligarh universities. He obtained an MA in Philosophy and an LLB before migrating to Karachi in the 1950s. There he pursued a successful career in banking, rising to become president of Pakistan’s United Bank and also the chairman of the Pakistan Banking Council. He was awarded the Quaid-e-Azam Memorial Medal for distinguished services in banking.

Satire and humour can cut through the most indescribable of situations and goings-on of life. Presented to the world in a remarkably clever and skilful way, exposing reality and truth, satire and humour can leave the reader awestruck and in a state of laughter and wisdom. Satire and humour are an inborn and inherent gift of nature to a writer. A satirist, or humorist, can identify the idiosyncrasy and foolishness in the people’s habits and activities, and in situations and happenings around him. He has the gifted ability to put them in cleverly crafted words and phrases. In the resultant ridicule, derision and scorn are hidden, gems of wisdom which invoke instant laughter. Satire is a parody pointed towards an individual, society, a tradition, a myth and an institution never fails to unclothe the vices, follies and shortcomings that abound in them.

Mushtaq Ahmed Yousufi was endowed naturally with this gift. In the five books that he gave to the world he exhibited this marvellous art and craft in his language, Urdu. His books Chiragh Talay, Khakam-ba-dahan, Zarguzasht, Aab-i-gum, Sham-e-Shair-e-Yaaraan are a treasure for all times.

Yusufi received the Sitara-i-Imtiaz and Hilal-i-Imtiaz awards, the highest literary honour by his country.

A noted writer of Urdu, Ibn-e-Insha, once said: “…if ever we could give a name to the literary humour of our time, then the only name that comes to mind is that of Yusufi.”

His Urdu novel Aab-e-Gumwas was translated to English as Mirages of the Mind by Matt Reeck and Aftab Ahmad.

The following are some pearls of satire and humour picked with love from the writings of Yusufi :

* Before and after every wrong-doing one needs a lot of moral support.

* Doctors do not like normal people and journalists normal circumstances.

* There have been very few leaders who have been blessed with death at the right time.

* Wise men always keep their eyes down and conscience bad.

* One who while commenting on current affairs can keep control over his blood pressure and his curses is either a saint or himself responsible for them.

* In hell sinner women shall be forced to eat cooked food by themselves.

* Due to just ninety per cent policemen all others have to bear ill repute.

* Half of all delicacies have been declared forbidden by the maulvi and the other half by the doctor.

* Three departments have always been dishonest. The Police, Public works and Income Tax. But then you may add another one; Anti Corruption. This one takes bribes from those who take bribe.

* When love should happen; before marriage or after marriage? Does not make a difference, whether it happens before or after, but it is important that the wife should not get a whiff of it.

Urdu developed as a language on the subcontinent with the introduction of Arabic and Persian in the local languages, to enable communication between the local population and the traders with the invading Arab and Persian armies.

Urdu, which has produced many great poets and writers such as Mir Taqi Mir, Asadullah Khan Ghalib, Muhammad Iqbal, Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Raghupati Sahai (Firaq Gorakhpuri Firaq), Rajinder Singh Bedi and many more, is richer because of the writings of Mushtaq Ahmed Yusufi.

Aazim Kohli is a writer, poet, and ex-member of Sahitya Akademi, Urdu Advisory Board.

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