Urdu, a language widely spoken and loved in the sub-continent and across many other parts of the world, lost two of it’s most eminent and noted writers within a week’s time in the beginning of February 2016.
Intizar Hussain a leading literary figure of Pakistan, a veteran fiction writer of Urdu novels, short stories and newspaper columns died of pneumonia in Lahore on 2 February 2016.
Nida Fazli, a legendary Urdu poet and lyricist, passed away due to heart failure in Mumbai on 8 February 2016.
An extremely rich and expressive language, Urdu has produced great writers and litterateurs whose work can be considered among the best in the world. Urdu poetry especially is soul-stirring and touches all moods and shades of life so vividly that it is commonly quoted in conversation all the time.
Both, a master craftsman of fiction Intizar Hussain and a poet of great repute Nida Fazli touched the hearts of millions of lovers of Urdu and created works in their lifetime which are regarded as valuable and memorable.
Intizar Hussain has written novels and short stories, which are regarded to be among the best in Urdu language. His knowledge of mythology, use of metaphors and simple language enriched his writings. He never forgot the fragrance of the trees and vegetation of his homeland. He was born in Dibai, Bulandshahr, India in 1923. At the time of partition he went away to the newly-formed Pakistan. His family opted to migrate there but he never got over the pain of having to leave the land where he was born and where he spent his childhood.
Both Intizar Hussain and Nida Fazli were masters of form. They touched the hearts of millions of lovers of Urdu and created works in their lifetime which are regarded as valuable and memorable.
His novel Basti written in 1979 covers the formation and history of Pakistan and the subcontinent. This novel was translated into English and shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize in 2013. His other notable works include Agay Samunder hai, Shahr-e-Afsos, Hindustan Se Akhiri Khat, Woh jo kho gaye etc.
He was awarded Pakistan’s civilian award, the Sitara-e-Imtiaz. He also received the French Ordre des Arts et Lettres award for his literary achievements.
Moderation reflected in his columns, which he wrote regularly for Pakistan’s leading English language daily, Dawn. He thought that tolerance and pluralism is the foundation of the belief and culture of the subcontinent.
His death is a great loss to the language of Urdu at a time when literature of similar standard is not being produced.
Nida Fazli whose full name was Muqtida Hasan Nida Fazli was born in Delhi into a Kashmiri family. Nida spent his childhood in Gwalior, and did his schooling there. He also spent a few years in Bhopal, a city which was dear to him. He studied English Literature.
His father too was an Urdu Poet. The family migrated to Pakistan in 1947 at the time of partition but Nida decided to stay back in India. He could never come to terms with the event of the partition of the subcontinent.
Inspired by bhajans sung in Hindu temples, he turned towards writing poetry.
He was very well read and could talk about Russian poets as well as Surdas, Kabir and Meera at length. Nida was equally comfortable writing dohas as he was in weaving memorable ghazals.
The man who gave beautiful couplets to Urdu language wrote in the language of the common man. He avoided using highly Persianised or Arabic words and that is why his poetry touched the hearts of people.
Ghar se masjid hai bahut door chalo yoon kar lein
Kisi rotey huey bacche ko hasaya jaye
(The mosque is far away from home
so, let’s bring a smile to a weeping child instead)
Duniya jise kehete hain jadoo ka khilona hai
Mil jaye to mitti hai kho jaye to sona hai
(This world, a magical toy, is like
Dust when got but gold when lost)
Kabhi kisi ko mukammal jahan nahin milta
Kahin zameen to kahin aasmaan nahin milta
(No one gets the whole world for himself
Somewhere he misses the earth and somewhere the sky)
He also wrote lyrics for films but liked to be known primarily as a poet.
Nida Fazli did commendable work in association with the great legendary Ghazal singer, the late Jagjit Singh. They together produced an album Insight which was very well received by the lovers of Ghazals.
Nida Fazli’s death is a big loss to the lovers of Urdu Poetry and he and his poetry will always be remembered with love and admiration.
Aazim Kohli is a poet and writer.