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Short story, ghazal appreciated at Halqa

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Report: Zubair Qureshi

Islamabad—In the weekly meeting of Halqa-i-Arbab-i-Zauq two young voices, Farheen Chaudhry, a noted short story writer and Narjis Afroz Zaidi a well-known poetess read out their works to the sheer pleasure the listeners.

Hamid Shahid the eminent short story writer and a senior member of Halqa-i-Arbab-i-Zauq Islamabad, presided over the meeting while among the participants include Mansha Yad, Ali Akbar Abbas, Asghar Abid, Khaliq-ur-Rehman, Ijaz Chaudhry, Manzar Naqvi, Tabasum Akhlaq, Anjum Khaliq Mohammad Ashfaq, Hasnain Bokhari, Akhtar Sheikh and Akhtar Usman.

The short story by Farheen Chaudhry titled “Ghonslay” (Nests) was seen as an attempt at the psychology study of the main character of the story Zetoon. She is languishing in a dark ill smelling 4/4 cell for murdering Malik Aslam her husband a landlord. In reality, the murder was masterminded by his brother who wanted to get rid of both the husband and the wife. Zetoon spends long tedious days in the cell looking at small nests above on the walls of her cell. In the beginning she thinks she will not tell the world that her husband was murdered by a tenant Allah Wasaya Musalli whose sister was corrupted by her husband. If she does so, people will come to know that he was not faithful to her. Musalli was incited by Aslam’s brother Rehmat. She thinks she will bear the hardships of the jail and accept her fate but later she discovers her potential when she looks at sparrows feeding their new-borns. She not only overcomes fear of the solitary confinement she also decided to fight her brother-in-law who has played the ignominious game.

Later critically appreciating the story, Hamid Shahid held that Farheen Chaudhry was a writer whose subjects were always startling and different from the every day life. He saw her “a writer with new possibilities”. He hoped that with the passage of time Farheen would master in the art of dealing with details in a short story.

Founder member of Halqa-i-Arbab-i-Zauq Mansha Yad saw many ambiguities in the story “since no one knows how Zetoon will use her potential”. Zetoon identifies with the sparrow and learns resilience, said Mansha Yad, but these are familiar subjects in short story and there is nothing new about that. He saw the story packed with unnecessary words. According to Akhtar Usman Farheen is fumbling with different themes at one time and as a result “she loses her grip on the subject matter”. Ijaz Chaudhry said woman in Farheen Chaudhry is a victim of class system. Hasnain Bokhari said there is a shift from objective to subjective approach and the story takes interesting turns and twists.

Anjum Khaliq said in contemporary literature women’s voice should be projected and Farheen Chaudhry has done that job well. A good creative work takes along its writer, said he. Imtiaz A Qureshi said writers should not be judged as male or female. Gender no longer exists when come to a creative work. Salim Zahid Siddiqui said the cell is merely 4/4 and this exposes how poorly informed the writer is.

Narjis’ ghazal was also appreciated in the meeting. Akhtar Sheikh said the poet has used different techniques to bring home her point of view. Hawa or the wind was the central theme of the ghazal. In the ghazal it is shown in different positive and negative shades. It is a constructive as well as destructive force. Ali Akbar Abbas said there was a classical touch in the ghazal yet at the same time the poetess introduces new subjects. Ijaz Chaudhry saw the wind as a villain while Akhtar Usman said it is a facing entity.

Literary Scene,Pakistan Observer,28 December 2005

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