A Memorable Literary Evening at the Alams’ Residence
A Pakistan Link Report
Poets, writers and lovers of Urdu at the residence of Dr Feroz Alam and Shaista Alam
“Urdu,” a language of love and poetry, has always enchanted millions living in the Indo-Pak subcontinent. Nurtured by the Mughals and patronized by the British through the Fort Williams College, it once ruled the heart and minds of all Indians regardless of their race or creed. Delhi, Lucknow, Bhopal, Hyderabad and Lahore were its great centers of patronage where “mushairas” and “adabi mehfils” were regularly held and created a stir.
But times change, political affiliations change and nothing stays the same forever. Urdu too has lost its patronage in these cities to some degree. Yet its entrancing charm has not been lost and to our good fortune it has now found many new centers around the world where its lovers can quench their thirst for its magical poetry and flowering prose.
Such a “mehfil” was arranged by Dr Feroz Alam and Mrs Shaista Alam at their residence located at the foothills of Alta Loma, a suburb of Los Angeles, California on Saturday December 19, 2009.
On a breezy and soothingly cool evening typical of the wintry California weather Urdu lovers and many poets and writers of greater Los Angeles area gathered at the couple’s home. Both the host and the hostess received them with a winsome smile. The arrangements were in keeping with the traditional “mehfils” back home. The living room had white “chandnees” and the small stage had a bouquet of fresh flowers and a flickering white candle.
After a sumptuous dinner, the “adabi nashist” began. Dr Nadir Khan, who is a well-known scholar in the community, was requested to preside. Mr Tabish Khanzada was entrusted the task of “nizamat”. Roohi Farrukh, a writer from Canada, was the Guest of Honor. The adabi nashist was a combination of both “nasr and shaery”.
The first part consisted of the recital of prose. Tasneem Sana, an accomplished writer, who has authored a book and earned fame for her weekly column in “Urdu Times,” presented her afsana “Dunya Dari”. It was very well received and was food for thought for the listeners. Following her ,Rubina Naureen, who had been a regular writer for Urdu Link in the past, read her piece “Meri Baat” which was a political column describing the situation in Pakistan. She made some stinging comments which were duly appreciated by the audience.
Dr Feroz Alam was then requested to present his afsana. He has been lately writing stories based on his experiences as a physician. However, on this particular occasion, he read an afsana on social issues faced by immigrants from Pakistan.
Mr Tabish Khanzada read a chapter from his novel “Saperan.” It was an incredible story and left the audience in awe. Irfan Mutaza, a well-known literary figure who is promoting the cause of Urdu and Urdu writers through the Urdu Writers Society and has several books and CDs to his credit, was requested to read his “ fakahia” imaginary interview with famous Urdu poet Amir Minaii. His was a very interesting and refreshing piece which was greatly enjoyed by everybody.
Asifa Nishat, an accomplished afsana nigar, presented her “Generation Gap,” a touching and shocking story written in her typical style mirroring the issues of raising children in the USA in the face of conflicting cultural influences.
Roohi Farrukh, who wrote regularly for Urdu Link in the past, read her afsana “Shareef Aurat” next. It was a very moving story about the emotions of a young widow living in Pakistan. Her delivery, resonant voice and poise had a spell-binding influence on the audience.
Lastly, to conclude the nasri nashist, Anwar Khwaja, a senior and highly respected story writer who is well-known in Pakistan since the decade of the fifties, presented his story. His specialty is nature and wild life in northern Pakistan. It was a very absorbing story.
There was a brief interval after which the mushaera started. Asadullah Husaini Chakkar had the audience in raptures with his humorous poetry. Irfan Murtaza, Asifa Nishat, Tabish Khanzada, and Shaista Aalam presented their “kalaam” an duly won accolades.
At the end, the host thanked every one for making the evening a truly memorable one.