Literary Evening Marks FOSA’s Joint Independence Day Celebrations
By Ali Hasan Cemendtaur

Ahsan Sajjad
Khawaja Ashraf
Moazzam Sheikh
Wajahat Ali and an actor

“Go West, Young man,” they would be advised. They would heed the call, would leave, and on reaching the destination, would forget about the lands they came from. And their forgiveness would be more of a non-elective than a voluntary act. The ‘young man’ settled in the West would have little means to keep in touch with the folks left behind. Not any more.
Modern day immigrants — and now they are going everywhere, east, west, north, and south (though a more recognizable stream flows from countries of turmoil to those with stable political systems) — keep well connected, if they wish to, with people they have left. But FOSA (Friends of South Asia, www.friendsofsouthasia.org) insisted that immigrants to Western countries often have a frozen social, political, and environmental image of their ‘homeland’, whereas in reality places are going through continuous change. Keeping up with its tradition of holding a joint celebration of Indian and Pakistani independence days, this year FOSA marked the occasion by holding its fourth annual South Asian literary evening on Saturday, August 25, at Milpitas Library Community Hall. FOSA had invited South Asian writers to reflect on the notion of ‘Revisiting Changing Homelands’ “to recognize and record” changes immigrants see and feel taking place in their ‘homelands.’
Even with a strong desire on the part of FOSA administrators to get submissions in regional South Asian languages, FOSA failed to get much diversity in contributions for the literary evening. Though hard to believe that FOSA’s widely distributed call for submissions, making rounds in the literary groups on the Internet, did not reach people writing in Tamil, Sindhi, Nepalese, and other South Asian languages let alone Bangla (the only South Asian language boasting Nobel Prize in literature), the literary evening featured only two entries in any language other than English -- both pieces were in Urdu.
Moazzam Sheikh, a writer originally from Lahore and settled in San Francisco, moderated the literary evening. Moazzam Sheikh writes fiction in English and Urdu, and translates from Urdu and Punjabi into English. He is the editor of ‘A letter from India: contemporary short stories from Pakistan’ (Penguin Books, 2004).
Amina Kamal Khan, a poet and filmmaker living in Washington DC area, had submitted a poem for the evening. Amina Khan’s poem ‘Coming home’ was read by Moazzam Sheikh.
Khawaja Ashraf, editor of PakistanWeekly.com, has been writing short stories in Urdu and English since 1973. His Urdu stories have been published in Auraq, Lahore and Shubkhoon, Allahabad. Khawaja Ashraf read a short story titled “A Cup of Tea With Buddha.”

Saqib Mausoof
Moazzam Sheikh and Maheen M. Adamson
A section of the audience

Mohezin (Mo) Tejani, currently residing in Thailand, writes articles, stories, and poetry for various magazines worldwide. “A Chameleon's Tale – True Stories of a Global Refugee,” the first volume of his globetrotting memoirs, was published in June 2006. Fruits of Childhood written by Mo Tejani was read by Saadia Mumtaz.Rinku Dutta, born in Sanctoria, Bihar, is currently engaged in post-doctoral research at the University of Pennsylvania.
Ijaz Syed read a piece written by Rinku Dutta--the commentary was titled "54, Chowringhee Lane."
Maheen M Adamson, a research fellow at Stanford University, is interested in film, theater, and Urdu literature. Maheen Adamson read “Aik Ungal Ka Border" (Urdu).
Ahsan Sajjad, a Karachite settled in the heart of Silicon Valley, has been writing songs in the American folk/blues style. Ahsan Sajjad read "The Origination of The Musical Chair", a satirical piece. Saqib Mausoof, a writer and filmmaker based in San Francisco is currently working on his feature film ‘Kala Pul’, and his travelogue, “Afraid to Shoot Strangers”. Saqib Mausoof read his memoir titled “The Dancing Girl of Mohenjodaro.”
Wajahat Ali a native Californian of Pakistani ancestry, has been writing and producing plays and films since he was a child. His play "The Domestic Crusaders" was performed at various places in the Bay Area and earned accolades from critics. Wajahat Ali's troupe performed staged reading of an excerpt from Ali's play "How to Read 'Un-Wholly Warriors.’”
A preview of the movie Kala Pul and a short film on crossing the Wagah border were screened to conclude the literary evening.

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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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