When less is more...

Asghar Wajahat and Asif Naqvi’s writings explain various layers of meditative process that do not reveal themselves fully when too many words are uttered

May 11, 2018 01:35 am | Updated 01:35 am IST



Contrary to the ongoing cacophonous debate on the hanging of Jinnah’s portrait on the wall of Students’ Union, Aligarh Muslim University is fully alive to its fundamental function – to initiate a discourse that celebrates cultural diversity and hones up creative thinking.

“Creativity is not confined to poetry or fiction but it is the quality that surfaces everywhere. Poets throng all hues of life. Creativity covers workers, clerks and all those who stick to their work honestly. A train driver ferries thousands of people from Lahore to Karachi and back. I strongly admire him. There is another one who keeps a vigil on railway gate. You know, if he opens gate when train passes, it will bring in catastrophe. The poet also does the same work; he knows when to close the gate and when to leave it ajar.”

Creativity is more layered than we perceive and the new definition is doled out by celebrated Hindi author Asghar Wajahat in the first volume of his collected works carrying short stories and plays that was released by the University Literary Club recently. On the occasion, two books by an eminent Urdu playwright Asif Akhtar Naqvi were also released. The function was intended to acquaint the students with the discourses that celebrate heterogeneity and which are being replaced by a discourse that celebrates homogeneity and purity.

Asif Naqvi

Asif Naqvi

The first volume carrying three widely acclaimed plays “Inna Ki Awaz” (The Voice of Inna), “Jin Ne Lahore Nai Dekha, Wo Jamai Nai” (The person who has not seen Lahore, is not son-in-law) and “Godse@Gandhi.com and fifty stories is edited by a promising young critic Dr. Pallav.

In his brilliantly written introduction, he points out that the Lahore play broke a new ground in the independent India and Habib Tanweer staged it at several places. The play quite perceptively shed light on the communal frenzy. Noted Urdu poet Nasir Kazmi emerges as a character who derides at communal politics. One has to wage a relentless war against caste, religion, region and colour for the survival of democracy.

Book cover

Book cover

Gandhi and Godse converse

In his trail blazing play Godse@Gandhi.com, the author proffers a stimulating debate on the issue of cultural assimilation and the politics of representation. It poignantly depicts how people make sense of their world through religion and a frank conversation between Gandhi and Godse articulates all vulnerabilities and fears of an emerging nation. The question of complex ancestry is conveyed which gags and sarcasms galore. At one place Gandhi observes: It is regretted that the court does not encourage dialogue, it records statement and insists on cross examination alone. There is no room for interaction.”

Dr. Pallav provided the reader with a panoramic an enthralling view of Asghar Wajahat’s creative dexterity by selecting representative stories that include “Cake”, “Sher”, “Girafat”, “Main Hindoo Hun”, “Guru Chela”, “Samvad” and “Doosri Mistake”, etc. Asghar Wajahat also writes flash or micro fiction with equal felicity and some of such stories are included in the selection. His “Guru Chela” and “Des hit” series stories turns attention on something that underpins the entire gamut of problem with laconic brevity. The stories are interspersed with candid acceptance of opposite views either grudgingly or gracefully.

Social satire

The author’s biting humour endorses Mark Twain who said that humour should not preach and should not teach, but to be enduring it should do both. Here humour takes a form of social satire.

Asif Naqvi rendered August Wilson’s popular play “Fences” into Urdu with remarkable felicity. Not much is known about Wilson who got the Pulitzer Prize for his play “Fences” and Asif in his discerning introduction aptly summarises that the “Fences” portrays how colour was used as a tool of mockery in the American society for centuries. The play is eventually a deeply moving tale of the protagonist, a black baseball player .Asif did well to articulate the story that conveys a sense of melancholy and sadness in chaste Urdu. His translation sets readers on an entertaining and rewarding voyage of self discovery. The translator aptly exposes the reader to a multi-sensory experience that remains immune to entertainment dazzle produced by new information technology.

Middle class milieu

Hindi translation of Asif Naqvi’s memoir closely resembles with auto-fiction. Asif, an active member of Jan Natya Manch, provides significant clues to the life of Safdar Hashmi, Mala and others. The author through intimate conversation with fellow artists and actors depict the middle class reality of the 80s. Young men looked distracted, isolated and even some times abundant. Their actions unfailingly betray a sense of mutual togetherness and rapture, forgiveness and reconciliation that enlivens the dark aspects of life.

Asghar and Asif’s writings explain various layers of meditative process that do not reveal themselves fully when too many words are uttered. One has to nurture the idiom of reticence and their texts are nothing but life affirming happenings and we need to marvel at their creation.

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