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Book Review: Muntakhab Afsane

Book Review: Muntakhab Afsane
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By: Rayees Ahmad Kumar

Presently we are living in a high-tech world, in which rapid advancement of science and technology has turned this whole world into a single village.

It can’t be denied that books, magazines and journals play an important role in the development and growth of literature and languages of the globe. In the era of social media, many forums and organisations seem vibrant and are on toes all over the world to infuse new life to the languages and literatures of the world.

Wular Urdu Adbi Forum Kashmir, too felt a need and came forward to organise Afsana events aiming to promote both literature as well as Urdu fiction. One such grand event was held under its banner in 2020 in which 45 fiction writers of the globe shared their creative stories.

Later on two energetic and vibrant soldiers of the forum Tariq Shabnam and Raja Yousuf edited and compiled it into a collection. This collection is spread over 267 pages having a superbly designed cover, published by famous GNK publications and dedicated to legendary critic, poet and short story writer Prof Hamidi Kashmiri.

About this collection, the sun of valley’s Urdu fiction and noted litterateur Noor Shah says ‘Of the social networking sites, Facebook is not only accessible to each internet user but its popularity is growing with each passing day. Internet has turned the whole world into a global village and for the growth and progress of language and literature, social media especially Facebook is continuously playing its commendable role.’

‘Many groups and pages on Facebook are relentlessly active in literary activities. In Kashmir also three prominent fiction writers Raja Yousuf, Tariq Shabnam and Dr Riyaz Tawheedi are so active on social media that the trio constituted this Facebook page intending to provide an online platform to the fiction writers of globe. I wish them a bright future’.

Raja Yousuf says about how the dream of launching a common online platform for fiction writers was realized by the unwavering support and noble efforts of Tariq Shabnam, when he himself took an initiative in the right direction.

According to Prof Aslam Jamshedpuri, this collection is a reflection of our daily issues which are haunting us and every story is a unique one. In its proem (p7-16), noted critic and litterateur of valley Dr Riyaz Tawheedi says ” in today’s cyber age, many national and international level literary forums promote Urdu literature and language by exploiting the access of internet.

Some of these active forums include Urdu Afsana forum, Alami Urdu Afsana, Alami Urdu Fiction, Haroofi Urdu, Girdab etc. Wular Urdu Adbi Forum Kashmir is also an active online platform, which successfully organised a grand online Afsana event in 2020 when the whole world was caught in a traumatic situation of COVID.

Tariq Shabnam (p17-19) in the foreword of this collection highlights the intention and aims of these online events and how he navigated to provide a common online platform for the fiction writers of valley so that their creative stories and fictional prowess not only reach to the maximum readership but also get appreciation and guidance from literary critics of the global repute.

Hawa(p20-25) – this is the opening short story of this esteemed collection composed by Abdul Gani Sheikh Ladakhi who is dominating the literary landscape of Ladakh for many decades. He has blended culture, tradition and customs’ of the region in this fictional story.

Through his story, he has depicted how religious differences compel a person to leave one’s belongings and dwelling place to take refuge in a safe and faraway place. Still the people you had cared about and loved heartily do show big mercy and feel upset in absence of your company.

Tanhayi and Du Mulk eik Kahani(p 26,27) are so nicely written by distinguished fiction writer Noor Shah that these reflect man’s helplessness and passivity before his spouse and due to division of a same country even two immediate neighbours fail to recognise each other.

Ye Kaise Rishte (p30) by Wehshi Syed a senior fiction writer of valley is an advice for those parents who proudly send their children outside the country and later they perturbate for their own blunder.

Angan Main Wo (p61-67) by Mushtaq Mehdi is skillfully crafted depicting the strange creation of universe and man. Akhri Neki (p86-94) written by Dr Mushtaq Ahmad Wani is so artistically woven that a reader keeps himself somewhat stck to the pages of the story till it’s end.

This story is a reflection of an amiable family life of Nizamudin, his spouse Zofshana and their daughters and navigates through his resolve to engage in good deeds in future. He helps an old aged destitute woman, a weak and enfeebled man to cross a busy road. Finally he lost his own life while trying to save a monkey.

Rakhi Aur Sendoor (p95-97) by Late Nazir Jawhar keeps a reader astonished while going through the story as to what for the painting had been handed over by the Chiyan a world renowned artist. Naya Shahar (p103-109) by Tariq Shabnum is nicely written showcasing his fictional prowess.

After reading this story, a reader longs for a city in which he would permanently reside due to its crime free status, no violation of laws and rules of the land and people with civic sense and kind-heartedness.

Nafrat (p110-113) by Dr Nazir Mushtaq a renowned fiction writer of valley is mirroring the lost human values among people of the planet who are hell-bent upon killing and destroying their own species. Hatred, enmity, avarice and malice have completely downgraded this crown of creation and is acting like a wild beast.

Ayeena(p132) by Dr Fareeda Tabasum is a stunning one and the whole story is revolving around an old but saintly person and a rotten book. Masomiyat gunah tu nahi(p140-146) by Naheed Tahir is navigating through the culture and fast-paced lifestyle and cosmopolitan city of Mumbai, the hustle and bustle of the railway station and also depicting an incomplete romantic story of Sultan the tea seller and an innocent teenager girl Hoor Bano who lures Sultan because of her attractive bodily physical features.

Mishtake(p147) by Dr Neelofar Naaz Nehvi an eminent fiction writer of valley, is a clear reflection of what our old aged parents meet in our homes at the hands of his own family members. We no longer are ready to own them heartily and consider them a big burden in the family.

Lift(p149-52) written by Dr Salik Jamil Brad is a testament to the routine corruptive practices adopted by policemen especially traffic ones who loot drivers on the road even for minor or no flaws. And in the end it unquestionably proves them costly as has been revealed in this story to Inspector Gurbachan. It is artistically written showcasing Salik’s prowess of creating inspiring fictional stories. Lockdown (p157-60) by Dr Ayesha Farheen navigates through the pendamic situation of COVID when people who earlier would be busy now feel free to spend time with their children and other family members.

Sakoon Ki Talash(p161-63) by Wajida Tabasum Gorkhu addresses an important but grave issue which is haunting not only the women folk but a multitude of men have ended their lives due to domestic violence. Yadon ke Sitam(p176-79) by Fareeda Anjum, this story shows how Cancer a life consuming disease can prove to be a hurdle in the decades old love relationship between two souls and restrict them from tying their nuptial.

Jhatka(p252-56) by Zubair Qureshi is a painful and agonizing story which reflects the lost human values among so called humans, an old aged but poorest and enfeebled man in the bus wasn’t given a seat despite he being unable to control himself during sudden jerks and all other passengers acted like mute spectators.

Bachpan (p257-58) by Parvez Yousuf, addresses a big societal issue. Enimity, hatred and jealousy between two homes or families not only affects our day to day normal social life but our children too loose their childhood of innocence.

Waswasa(p259-60) by Tawseef Ahmad Tawseef is like a warning call, that if the powerful animals of the jungle get obsessed with vanity like humans, the routine regular life of the weaker ones would surely be at stake. There wouldn’t be an order instead chaos would reign all around.

This collection of Urdu short stories based on Afsana event of 2020 is indeed a nice endeavour of Tariq Shabnam and Raja Yousuf who tirelessly work for the upliftment of Urdu literature and language by organising varied literary events in every nook and corner of the valley.

The collection is a big treasure of fiction and I personally have loved it heartily and was eagerly waiting to write my commentary on it. I congratulate every participant of the event and wish them a marvelous success.

(Te writer hail from Qazigund Kashmir)

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