Roofi / Shaitaan, Hakoomat Aapa, Razia, Tamanna, Baby, Maqsood Ghorra, Buddy, Nannha, Munna, Rustam, Moody, Shorty, Hill, Bud……. The list goes on.
I feel fortunate to have been born in the “literature-age” of Shafiq ur Rehman and Yusufi…… Only after his death, I knew that he was residing in Rawalpindi (26 – Westridge I), and secretly so (didn’t mix up with people)… The reason I knew, once I met one of his close relatives in Karachi, who told that his life changed after they lost one of their sons by suicide, and yet another by a mysterious eye-loss due to gun shot, who later died too….. The third son been divorced out of marriage (even with 4 kids), the family fabric was torn apart, and nothing was ever same again..
A tragic end to a person’s life, who as a medical practitioner, healed people, as a writer, made everyone laugh and enjoy the life….
May Allah bless his soul. Aameen.
Here is an attempt for approximate translation for English readers (from Wikipedia):
Cats are fighting
May be cats are fighting in garden now
There is the haze of dusk
It is time to rest
And cats are fighting
May be they are 4 in number
or may be 3
But this little doubt has made house in my heart
that the cats are 5 in number
and definitely they cannot be 6
and the night is glowing in moonlight
and the moon is shining bright
and the moonlight is ubiquitous
and this moonlight will only last for a little while
and then there is a pitch dark night ahead
What was I saying?
Aah, it just slipped out of my mind
What happened to my memory?
Only God can fix it
Oh Yes, I just remembered!
the cats are fighting
Cats are probably fighting in the garden now!
In the words of Dr Zeba Hasan Hafeez:
“Dr Shafiq-ur-Rehman began writing humorous stories during his school days. His stories were published in a literary monthly magazine called Khayyam. Kirneyn was completed before he joined medical college and was published in 1938 while he was still a medical student. It was followed by Shagoofay , Lehrain, Maddojazar, Parvaaz, Himaqatain, Mazeed Himaqatain, Dajla (a travelogue), Insaani Tamasha (a translation of “a human comedy”) and lastly Dareechay. His unforgettable characters include Razia, Shaitaan, Hukoomat Aapa, Maqsood Ghora, Buddy, Nannha and others. His work added a new dimension to humor in Urdu literature.
He created a world for us that was very real with all its joys, pains and anguish. It was an affirmation of life and of human values: empathy, compassion and respect. Even the seemingly frivolous and trivial situations had hidden meanings that probed deep into the human psyche. His language was simple, spontaneous and expressive. PG Wood House and Stephen Leacock were amongst his favorite writers.
Dr Shafiq-ur-Rehman was very much of an outdoor person. He was tall, athletic and slim; strenuous exercise being a daily ritual for him. Every Sunday, he would wear his hat and go for a long walk to the bazaar of used books. He returned with an interesting assortment and gave each of us a book to read.
Whenever we went to Dr Shafiq-ur-Rehman’s house, we knew that depending upon the time, he would either be at work, outdoors for his daily exercise or in his study. If it was one of the meal times, we would have the memorable opportunity of being in his company. I always felt honored to sit at the dining table with him. He spoke most of the time and we listened, mesmerized. He had an amazing memory and his conversation would mostly be about books, poetry and jokes. His jokes were endless and he never repeated a single one. He had a special way of telling a joke which threw us all into fits of laughter while he sat with a straight face. Later, I found out that most people who had met him shared this impression. It was an unwritten law in their house that meal times were a reunion of the family and that anything unpleasant including illness was not to be discussed.
Dr Shafiq-ur-Rehman was very fond of photography. Each photograph seemed to have a historical perspective to it. My aunt had a story to tell about each one. They seemed to open a gateway to a dreamland of romanticism, youth; a glimpse into life, as he had lived it and as it had inspired him. His room was quite bare. He was an extraordinarily simple and private person. I sometimes caught a glimpse of him while he worked. There was a newspaper stand in his room where he stood for hours, barefoot, reading. He even wrote while standing. His library comprised of thousands of books. These were all stacked neatly in steel trunks, which were kept locked. He seemed to have a working catalogue in his mind and knew where each book was placed, even the pile and row down to the last detail.
Dr Shafiq-ur-Rehman had given me an autographed set of his books. Somehow Mazeed Himaqatain was missing from this collection. When I went to Rawalpindi after his passing away, I requested my aunt to autograph it for me. She wrote, “Barey shauq saye suun raha tha zamana Hameey soo gayae dastaan sunaatey sunaatey.”
Dr Rehman’s lifestyle was always simple. On one occasion, a thief tried to break into their house and in the process damaged a door whose repair caused the family considerable inconvenience. I recall him saying that a sign should be posted outside for thieves, “The door is open, you don’t have to break it.””