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Meeting a jinn and a fairy near Nanga Parbat

Meeting a jinn and a fairy near Nanga Parbat

KARACHI: Dr Agha Salman Baqar, a Lahore-based poet, critic and fiction writer, enchanted on Saturday a small gathering of literati and lover of Urdu literature with his talk about, among other things, having physically seen a jinn and a fairy while travelling in the mountains up in the north.

An illustrious scion of Shamsul Ulema Maulana Mohammad Hussain Aazad, Mr Baqar was giving the background to his recently published Urdu travelogue Fairy Meadows at a literary sitting organised in his honour at the Anjuman Taraqqi-i-Urdu office.

He described how he accompanied by his son chatted with a ‘Baba’ at a scenic place between a high altitude lake and a pine forest, at the base of the Nanga Parbat. The time, he said, was around 10.30am. During the gripping chat, which he has detailed in the book, the father-son duo realised that the person they were talking with was some supernatural being, probably a genie, and soon walked away from him.

The author also described a scene where he said he had seen a fairy. He said he heard some soft footsteps following him and for a moment he froze thinking that it could be a big cat, as the place is known to have cheetahs and bears, stalking him but saw a dainty young women swish past him. “How she looked like, how long her hair was, how she walked and what made me believe she was nothing else but a fairy, you can read in my book Fairy Meadows,” he said, leaving the audience’s curiosity unsatisfied.

He also described how he, then aged 58, trained beforehand to be fit enough to hike some 7,000-foot altitude.

Dr Baqar said he was happy that people at the sitting talked more about his great grandfather, Maulana Aazad, his grandfather, his uncles and his father than himself. He said he had authored about 50 books and hundreds of literary essays, but his forefathers’ work was too great compared to his.

The largest part of his literary works was on Mohammad Hussain Aazad. He narrated how he came to it though initially he had little interest in literature.

“I was a good student but did not have much interest in literature. I saw a lot of activity taking place at our home. Pieces of literature being created, composed, discussed and a host of known scholars coming and staying as guests with my father for days. But nothing interested me much. I was in class 9, just 131/2 years of age, when my father suddenly died. When we returned home from his funeral, the thought gripped my mind: ‘Who will carry on Mohammad Hussain Aazad’s literary legacy after my father?’ And I decided that I’ll not let fade into oblivion what my forefathers had kept alive for over a century. I began reading literature on Aazad and wrote my first essay is 1972, which was published by Imroze in 1973.” In one of his books he discussed and proved that Aazad was not ‘on a spying mission’ while travelling through Central Asia as was propagated by his opponents.

He also described how adversely Aazad had reacted to bestowing of the honorific Shamsul Ulema on him whereas Altaf Hussain Hali had praised the authorities for selecting him for the ‘honour’.

Prof Sahar Ansari, presiding over the event, praised the guest’s Fairy Meadows saying that it was different from most well-known travelogues and did not have the kind of stuff they had. “One travel writer, for instance, wrote ‘I was flying in a plane when a woman sitting next to me rested her head on my shoulder and I pushed her away saying, pardon me Bibi, I am no Mustansar Tarrar’.”

He said that the book was so interesting that “When I began reading it, I could not put it down till I finished it.”

Speaking at the event, Dr Fatema Hassan said the Anjuman, whose honorary secretary she is, had been promoting regional languages as well as Urdu. “The Anjuman was where Pakistan’s foundation was laid as it called for promoting Urdu language and related culture, which necessitated a separate homeland,” she said, adding that the people opposing Urdu were actually opposing Pakistan. She warned that no compromise would be made on Urdu.

Dr Hassan said, unlike many such organisations, Anjuman Taraqqi-i-Urdu had been active throughout since it was founded 114 years ago by the literary giants such as Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, Nawab Waqarul Mulk and Maulvi Abdul Haq. She said just in a year the Anjuman published 24 books besides other literary activities.

Earlier, introducing Dr Baqar, Agha Talib praised the former for writing so much and so valuable on Aazad. “Just imagine that Salman Baqar has written 32 essays on Aazad’s those rare literary aspects which have not been discussed by other researchers and critics,” he said.

Dr Rukhsana Saba compered the event. Dr Yasmeen Farooqui, head of the Anjuman’s youth wing, presented a bouquet and a set of books to the guest.

Published in Dawn, August 21st, 2017

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