Modern Urdu Short Story

Professor Dr. Saadat Saeed  Ankara Turkey


New literary techniques have played pivotal role in the creation of world-class short stories in Urdu. The effective handling of technique urges the writer to get rid of superfluous literary traditions and rotten content and outworn diction. If a technique remains in use in consonance with the subject it would illuminate the possibilities of a great literary heritage. The explicit identification of literary techniques prepares the readers to distinguish effortlessly between one dimensional and multi-dimensional literary product.


Literature is the reflection of life and life is the other name of a constant flux of changing realities. The waves of change reshuffle the existing truths and characters in various walks of society. With the introduction of new criteria in the fields of science and arts, the techniques and methods used in literature also sacrifice their permanence.


The transitions in the channels of communications have brought the people of the world closer to each other. Interaction among diametrically different cultures is another characteristic of the new age. The impact of this situation on the groups or individuals working in the domain of aesthetics cannot be ignored. International cooperation in the realm of art and knowledge will go a long way in transforming the intellectual disparity among different regions of the world.


A cursory look at the repertoire of Urdu prose reveals that the literature written before and after 1857 is utterly different in form and content. The efforts made by the Ali Garh School brought phenomenal changes in Urdu criticism, poetry, and fiction. Our fiction writers shed allegorical eloquence, fantasies, supernatural elements, elusive parables, uncanny tales and presented real life in their writings.


With the introduction of drastic changes in Western sciences and arts during the early and middle twentieth century, Urdu literature rose to new heights. Saijad Hyder Yaldram and Prem Chand introduced the genre of short story to Urdu readers. They revolted against the allegorical techniques, verbosity and linear narrative and substituted these elements with varying approaches of realism.


Although Urdu short story, in the early phases, evolved in the shadows of the contemporary realities but the writers still found it hard to avoid the preponderant styles.


The short stories deviating in techniques appeared in Urdu literary journals in the second half of the twentieth century. Modern western movements in art and literature have been playing a vital role vis--vis the intellectual capabilities of experimenting writers, in orchestrating the countless hues and tones of short stories in Urdu. Take the examples of the short stories in poetic prose or attuned to the chords of social realism, the works of the symbolists and the fiction of the followers of existentialism. Each camp has utilized myriad techniques for the growth of Urdu fiction. It can be assumed, that in the domain of short story Urdu literature is sailing along the literature of the advanced languages of the world.


Modern Urdu short story started from Prem Chand and enlisted legends like Krishan Chander, Saadat Hasan Manto, Rajinder Singh Bedi. Asmat Chughtai, Ghulam Abbas. Hassan Askari, Ahmad Nadim Qasmi, Mumtaz Mufti, Ashfaq Ahmad, Qurrat-ul-Ain Hyder, Intezar Hussain and Aziz Ahmad who made valuable contributions to enrich this form of writing.


They touched upon varying dimensions of the narrative. In their works the narration illuminates itself either in the style of diary writing or in the voice of reportage. If necessary, the writer himself plays the role of a narrator. At times these writers put on the veneer of a sketch writer. It is not obligatory for the female writers to narrate their stories in feminine gender. It is still a mystery for the readers fond of fiction that why most of the female fiction writers wish to express their experiences in masculine gender?


New short story writers from Pakistan like Anwar Saijad, Masood Ashaar, Khalida Hussain, Rashid Amjad, Sami Ahuja, Mazhar ul Islam and Mansha Yad etc. have been applying complex expressions and techniques to illustrate the existential notions corresponding to the problems of solitude, identity crisis, socio-political restrictions, class contradictions, freedom, anxiety, persecution, and despotism, etc. A few of these writers to some extent have borrowed from the modern Western schools of literature such as Expressionism, Impressionism, Symbolism and Imagism etc. They have manipulated these techniques in the perspective of their native, society, and culture in such an artistic fashion that their creations seem to match the universal catholicity New fiction writers have been using techniques such as monologue and association of ideas. Some of them are fond of using symbolic styles and impressionistic expression. Nonetheless, Modern allegorical, expressionistic and surrealistic techniques are not alien to them by any means. A few of them have employed psychoanalysis and the religious lore in their works.


Although experiments are an essential part of creativity but pure experimentation cannot be called creation. Creation means the appropriate weaving of the threads of tradition and innovation. Technique demarcates the bewildered content and pure form of experiment. The creation is like a strainer which helps the creator to research and discover his lost content, to encounter his deep meanings even if they are left behind in hiss dreams and above all to analyse his situations in a society only too willing to attack the writings not favourable to its taboos and traditions.


Leaving aside the writers attached to the new school of fiction, most of our short story writers are committed to the realist technique. Younas Javaid, Asad Muhammad Khan, Agha Suhail, Mustansar Hussian Tarrar and many others have already acquired the space to "locate possibilities of change remaining within the realist parameters. So far as technique and its impact on creation is concerned, it gives objective shape to the raw material and the importance of its appropriate use in all forms of literature is an accepted truth. It is linked with the means of expression and the writers viewpoint.


New realists in Urdu fiction reject the traditional principles of story telling. The old units of time and space have been cast aside by them. Some of these writers even travel through ages and illustrate their objectives with remarkable creative cohesion of time and space. They plod through the history and seek help from myths and tradition to reveal the possibilities of the characters or situations. At times their plots progress in spiral or linear fashion. It goes without saying that short story in Urdu has a valuable treasure of new techniques. Whether Urdu writers succeed in transforming these potentialities into concrete literary productions is the content dormant in the seeds of times.