Search for identity - 1

Saeed Anjum’s Short stories

By Professor Dr. Saadat Saeed


Walking Sleeping Dreams:


Saeed Anjum has left this world early. Now he is living in our memories. He tried various field of expressions to embody his ideas concerning the future of mankind on earth. He began his literary carrier as critic and short story writer and remained faithful to these forms of literature till his last breaths. He was my close friend. We both started our literary flight under the careful vigilance of the teachers of our honorary alma Mater Halqa Arbab-e-Zauq Lahore in late sixties.

Those of course were the painful days of Ayub’s Martial Law in Pakistan. In early seventies I joined Young People’s Front a Lahore based pro China leftist group of intellectuals under the leadership of Dr. Aziz- Ul- Haq (a Canada return socialist critic and the author of Mazmeen-e- Azizul Haq whose first and last book was published many years after his murder by an industrialist in May 1972) and Saeed Anjum Pro Moscow socialist party and took political lessons from C.R Aslam and Abid Hassan Manto. Our blood was young and we remained involved in heated theoretical discussion up till the dismemberment of USSR. Later we embraced too the theory of glasnost presented by Gorbacheve. Saeed Anjum went to Norway. I remained in Pakistan. Later I met him several times in Norway and Pakistan.

Through his courtesy I met Sian Sucha and Nasar Malik. He hosted me twice in Norway. I traveled with him from Oslo To Stockholm. Saeed Anjum, Akram Chaudary (Our common friend living in Oslo) and I roamed in and around Oslo near about fifteen precious days. Those days have gone with the wind. Everyone has to leave this world one day. Only the time will embrace eternity.

Saeed Anjum was a good fiction writer. When his maiden book “Sab Acha Ho Gaa” published I arranged an evening with him In Halqa Arbab-e-Zauq Pakistan in Chenys Lunch Home Lahore. I read an article about his achievements. Later that article was published in my book Jayhat Numaee under the title of Seena-e-Geeti Main Naey Din Kay Naey Khawab”. A few years later when Saeed’s second book “Sotay Jaghtay Khawb” published I wrote an article about his short stories, which was published in
“The News International Lahore”. I present hare that article for readers having taste to understand contemporary literature.

When we enter the world presented in modern fiction we often find life and living souls in deep crisis. Amidst the modern culture, which is blossoming like self-growing plants, we face vulnerable voices crying for help. Living in the center of mechanical presence they call for humanity. They madly hanker after the values of humanism. Their corporeal living prevents them to adopt the ways parallel to materialism. In the age of pure nationalism everyone among emigrants residing at various parts of the world is in search of ones human identity. Living in a country culturally alien to him. He faces different conditions and environment. He and people like him ask themselves as Sian Sucha. a well known writer of Punjabi and English puts it in his famous book “search for identity” that  “are they basically birds of the same feather or the acquired plumage from their new home-grounds have brought about such a radical change that they can no longer fly together? Can they still call themselves as Oriental, or have they become westernized.
Explaining his subjective crisis Nasar Malik, a short story writer, poet and broadcaster writes

           You, who hunt me!

           You. who lie in wait!

           The day you kill me.

           in my pocket you will find

           a ticket to Loveland.

           Love Land — cradle of peace.

           Land — of human conscience.


           Throw not away that ticket!

           You can also travel on it.

The killer doesn’t need that ticket as Franz Fanon writes in his famous book the “Wretched of the Earth” that they should not waste their time in futile supplications and filthy imitation. Leave Europe to its fate. That there people talk a lot about humanity but wherever they find human being they kill him. In the name of so-called spiritual issues — on a road corner or everywhere in the world- they have entangled humanity.

When we read latest short stories by Saeed Anjum. We feel how difficult it is to live in a foreign country as an alien migrant. A few years ago Saeed’s maiden book of short stories “Sub Achha Ho Ga” was widely appreciated by well-known Urdu critics. The    second book contains his thirteen short stories and eleven mini short stories have been published under the title of Sotay Jagtay Khawb (Walking Sleeping Dreams). Besides the expressions of love for his motherland the writer presents in them the day-to-day problems encounter by the emigrants living in Norway. It is a register actuality that the documentation of life in art and literature does not demand the embrace of inconceivable theorem for its expression. A genuine writer never disregards the vital questions of existence and quest for facts. Saeed’s creative mind works wonders and the hidden facts and truths become the part of his creations charged with the concepts of social responsibility and political commitment. He has made a bold attempt to mirror the world experienced by him. In the process of writing the facts and truths discovered by him. He uses completely the creative right of surpassing the common limits. In his introduction of Saeed’s short story “ AKhbar AA Giaa (The news paper is in hand) the Editor Shair (Short Story Number) Bombay writes “ In Saeed’s short stories we find a continuous process of retrieving lost character.

His short stories are founded on the concepts of the basic thought of modern mind, and the representation of his culture and the artistic expressions of its preservation. The waiting for the unity of the contradictory dimensions of dream and its interpretation and aspiration for betterment have protected his style from unnecessary complexities and placed it in main stream of common likeness. Saeed Anjum seems to be well aware of the mode of contemporary political and social changeover and disorder around the globe. Furthermore he reacts sharply to the traditional sanctimonious dispositions. His short stories “Naik Bandon Ka Zaiwar”, “Fursh-o-Arsh” and a few others depict clearly his progressive approach about metaphysical problems. In his latest short stories the subject of his main concern is the problem of disgraceful living of alien immigrants in the
 societies famous for their philanthropic spirit. Here we present translation of his two mini short stories. Returning back to home from Nursery my son ordered me in Norwegian language

           “You cannot go out”


           Speaking Urdu I stared at my wife who had brought him back.
           Child Said “We will play together”

           And mother was suggesting to accept his idea.

           “What we are going to play”?

           Postponing my program of leaving house I asked.

           “ Red Indian and cowboy”!

           The child told me.

           On that evening I was killed several times by my son.

           Later I asked my wife

           “ Doesn’t he find opportunity to play in Nursery?”

           “ He finds it”

           My wife told me

           “ But Norwegian children use to make him Red Indian all the day”.

During the Immigrants Cultural Festival Ali charmed audience with the strings of Sitar. A year after he got a letter from the National Cultural Administration. He was invited to participate in a seminar along with Norwegian artists. The term Cultural Worker was used for him in the invitation. He was amply happy over it. He put required things in his bag and reached at charming Hotel situated in a beautiful area far away from Oslo and entered in it as a cultural worker the new status given to him. He told his name. The receptionist checked the list of invite and gave him a key. He left for the room reserved for him. According to the schedule he has to reach for taking his evening meal in the dinning hall at 6 0 clock. He took bath and singing a light tune combed his hair. Check his dress and watched the watch and went towards dinning hall. Many people were sitting here. He stayed for a while and began to search any familiar face. Norwegians waved their hands towards him. He went near their table. One of them asked him “ Bring menu”

Saeed Anjum expresses his truths and opinions freely. He belongs to the progressive traditions projected by the liberal and progressive members of Halqa Arbab-e Zauq and progressive writers movement. So he is extremely bold in his expressions. His cutting approach in literature motivates him to adopt the methodology of criticism and self-criticism to discover the real facts hidden in the lairs of complex political, social and metaphysical situations. Saeed’s evaluation of his crisis oriented existing situation brings about the wanted impact. He calls in question the scattered opinions and assertions of western writers about the problem of alienation and exile and focuses his attention on disturbing consequences faced by immigrants living in alien soils. It is a known fact that the movements in modern fiction with their geneses in the capitalist cosmos concentrate upon the delineation of one’s individuality. But in spite of their belligerent claims the    novelist from West could not touch the problems faced by immigrants. For them immigrants are non-entities. How can they comprehend their individualistic or collective confusions and crisis.

In 19th century Karl Marx expounded his famous theory of alienation in his notable book Philosophical Manuscripts Though this theory deals with the passion of individual’s alienation in the industrial society yet its implications suggest that Karl Marx was in search of lost humanity. He voiced against slavery system. But most of the writers in West could not sight new type of slavery. These slaves are invisible for them. They only can hate them or ignore them. The painful alienation told heavily upon the individualities of the workers from third world. They are craving for a whisper of fresh air.

Sian Such in his book Search for identity has theorized the situations encountered by the immigrants residing in various affluent countries. He points out:

“There was a general consensus that although the act of emigration is an extremely painful experience, on the whole it added to the personality of each being.”

He further says

“we all have left our homes, with some precious gems of truth to help us survive in the strange lands of alienation; yet our entrance into the bigger world has brought us face to face with so many other shades of truth that one could no longer assert that the truth       had only one identifiable form or facet. All that was new and caught attention was not always golden, but it aroused curiosity and stirred the imagination.”

Saeed Anjum seems well aware of latest theories of alienation and social change. At times he analytically uses Existentialist doctrine of human freedom and commitment. He knows where lies his identity. In his short stories he depicts well the characters, which are in search of identity. He gives countenance to the theories of alienation and human dignity presented by Franz Fanon. Eric Fromm. Herbert Marcuse and many other humanists.

As we know writers portray life in the perspective of polite progression. Saeed Anjum too had criticized unjust society around him. As a critic he theorized intellectually the problems concerning despotism and class system in third world. He revolted against autocratic ethical patterns and tried to point out the nature of real ethical patterns. He in his two expressive short stories entitled “Jalti Bujti Rooshanian” and “Aab-e-Shifa” propounded creatively his well thought critical views. Conscious readers can easily discover his analytical awareness about the uneven social situations and hidden human demands. After thorough study of Marxism Saeed Anjum told his readers clearly that they had to resolve the problems of dichotomy related to practice and lesson of morality in a materialistic society. He exposed in his various short stories the dual morality concealed by the religious propagandists. As a short story writer his critical approach though looks simple but has deep analytical studies.