Beyond the Wasteland of Perception - By Professor Dr. Saadat Saeed
New Urdu short story is enigmatic for the reader because of inexplicable situations, queer perceptions, bizarre incidents, quixotic characters and farfetched themes. Such fiction has actually blitzed his consciousness and eclipsed un-dimensional channels of his thinking. New morphological and conceptual formalities, for him, are no less than riddles. In the short stories written by new writers, themes and their associations are so complex that they often seem to him hollow, absurd, and witless. A jungle of fallacious ideas and liquidating swamp of meaninglessness are the main obstacles in the passage of the hapless reader. Who is responsible for this situation? Reader or writer? The problem needs enquiry and the matter necessitates explanation?
However Rasheed Amjad, a prominent new short story writer employs new literary techniques and poetic expression in his short stories effectively. He has struck new prose rhythms and linguistic modes to chisel a distinct style of his own.
In new times, several literary styles and expressions have been introduced by the writers associated with modern literary movements. Rasheed Amjad seems to be fully alive to these developments. In every region of the world, the literary styles adopted by the local writers entertain a peculiar identity. However, thanks to the rapid exchange of world wide information with the help of new channels of communication, the common habits developed by consumerism and the humanist psyche preached by new philanthropists, a sort of global ideology has emerged in twentieth century which already has influenced the literary and imaginative writings every where in the world. Moreover worldwide collaboration in the realm of art is alleviating the emotional and intellectual poverty of mankind.
Rasheed Amjad rejects the incorporeal and utopian styles of Urdu short story writing. Rasheed Amjad's strong imaginative power has motivated him to cultivate a poetic diction in the fabrication of his short stories. His collected works entitled "Dasht-e-Nazar say Agay" based on his seven collections of short stories written during last three decades has been published recently.
Wazir Agha, the pedantic Urdu critic, has placed Rasheed Amjad among those writers who combine past and future while living in the orbit of current times. In his rather inventive critical evaluation of Intezar Hussain and Enwer Sajjad, he has become a little abusive to these trend setters in the realm of short story. He settles his account with Intezar Hussain declaring him a worshipper of past and writes Enwer Sajjad off, calling him a futurist. For some unknown reason, Wazir Agha failed to appreciate Intezar Hussain for his struggle to interpret present with the value structure of the past (our learned critic, himself, goes at great lengths to appreciate past) The serious study of Enwer Sajjad's works can make the learned reviewer believe that the focal point of his literary commitment is the contemporary scene pawned with the feudal, capitalists and the imperialists, a rather unpleasant scenario for the wretched of the earth. Why does Mr. Agha find Enwer Sajjad's urge for a better future indigestible? This question is a mystery and only Wazir Agha can resolve it.
Under the magnetism of the new literary movements embraced by the broad - minded artists or the works of the symbolists and the followers of existentialism, Rasheed Amjad and many other fiction writers have utilized creative and rich contents and techniques and worked for the growth of new literature in view of the high conceptions. Profound experiences, stimulating substance and treasured techniques are capitalized upon in his short stories and have set Rasheed Amjad's repute beyond doubts. He along with few of his companions has played a significant role towards the historical progression of new trends of story writing in Urdu literature. The technique usually practised by him in his short stories is symbolic.
Rasheed Amjad is very choosy and precise in the framing of his ideas. His perception has been working under the guidance of his conceptual approach. Using appropriate techniques for the content having fresh dimensions, he fuses various phases of time or at times deals separately with past, present and future. In this connection he occasionally touches upon the volatile borders of anti short story. Al-though the traditional readers demand simple and articulate short stories but from his maiden collection entitled "Bezaar Adam Kay Betay" to his latest volume Shola-e-Ish'q Siah Posh Hua Meray Baad, Rasheed Amjad has been constantly applying his speculative idiom for the depiction of his experiences.
He inhabits a big city and belongs to middle class but at the same time, he is an outsider in the modern society. He faces depression, boredom, emptiness, sadness, discontent and expresses his view in the form of short story with the help of his fancied diction, thought provoking narration, philosophical dialogues, and psychological monologues. Life in big cities is under pressure and so psychological disorders are affecting the populace dangerously.
The victims of modernization and democratic supremacy of a low browism in the third world are crying for justice and a life conducive to human beings. The crisis in Rasheed Amjad's latest works is piercing. His characters are lurking in the wounded darkness of a society where a person is dislocated and cannot perform even his routine tasks. Every character in his short stories seems rotten, painful death casts its shadows in cities or in graveyards and in the subjectivities of those human beings who have acute yearnings for gracious life. The state oppression is another pivotal theme manipulated in this prodigal opus. Rasheed Amjad, like so many other prolific writers, has expressed his bitterness against the executions of innocent people by the ironhanded administrators in the name of the law imposed on people not by democratic norms but by brutality. Rasheed Amjad writes, "The hypocrisy of this inarticulate period has made the things tasteless and disgraceful in such a manner that loneliness from the womb of which used to gush the fountains of intuition, meditation and greatness now has developed into a terrible muteness. Out of loneliness has born a dreadful, crippled; restless wilderness by recollection of which infertility begins to dance in the eyes and the tedium takes upon the vulnerable fences of the bodies. I am not against the ideology or creed.
A theoretical standpoint is also reflected in these collections of my short stories but the ideological slogans, to me, are not literature. Thus I think that without passing through the creative process, nothing becomes literature. I believe in artistic creation."
Rasheed Amjad recognizes the problems of ill-faceted crowd and tries to combat them in a suggestive manner. He has written several stories in impressionistic and imagistic styles. He has traveled through a mysterious city in which he sees broken walls, paper ramparts, the whirlpool of voices, faceless men, rain without water, the knock of a lost voice, a populace blossoming in a flower pot, the voices of silence, the fascination of fresh air in the filth house, a beam in a frozen season, a photo becoming hazy in an open eye and distorted images and contorted figures. Rasheed Amjad loves to depict in rich metaphors and symbols situations related to the mourning over lost things, blind rights, frozen darkness, barrenness, and various socio political calamities.
Whether Rasheed Amjad succeeds in eliciting sublime literary works from the depths of his speculative potential or not, remains a question, to be answered with some impunity only by the critic of tomorrow.
*********By Saadat Saeed
Magazine for poetry, fiction and memoirs