Hasan Javed’s World of Urdu Fiction Gets Reality Check

[wp_ad_camp_1] Hassan Javaid has made his mark by writing a brilliant Urdu novel titled “Shehr-e-be-Mehar”

By Zaib Azkaar Hussain

Zaib Azkaar Hussain


Latest Urdu novel by Hassan Javaid titled ‘Shehr-e-be-Mehar’ speaks volumes for his conscious approach and skills to develop  a dimensional story by fictionizing a number of characters. The plot of story though revolves around the menace of terrorism, it explores the actual cause of a kind of social disturbance, violence and crisis.

The novel also attempts to evolve an understanding over the root cause of the mental and psychological crisis of those involved in illegal activities by gaining power. The factor of power  and subjective complexes of individuals at times cause a great negative impact on the objectivity or objective conditions of a society, the novel symbolically is aimed at exploring this rather uncomprehended reality.

In Urdu this is probably a novel style to use so tiny and short sentences in writing a major novel which has a very good plot and many characters of different nature, mindset, dispositions and classes. Besides the novelist showed great courage in depicting  and exposing serious problems such as violation of human rights, crimes against children and women (abuse and incest)  misuse and abuse of power,  social, economic and psychological issues of class-based society.

Hassan Javaid who himself been an accomplished English journalist and when i was told for the first time by a friend of mine (Nusrat Amin who himself is a brilliant journalist and columnist) that Javaid Sahab has written an Urdu novel, i could hardly believe it.

However on going through the the unpublished content of novel, I knew the very fact that  Hassan Javaid has all abilities to put two and two together in creating Urdu fiction by developing a major plot of the story, its treatment, while taking into account due grammatical standards and  parameters. Instead I must say by coining shortest sentences he has set a unique example to write a good novel in Urdu.

It would be appropriate to mention a few sentences to adjudge the worth of being very economical by the novelist; like see

third page when Naveed is suffering from an agony stating “Naveed ke dimaagh mein mustaqil ye sawaal kaante ki tarah chubh raha tha k kese aik criminal ne usse choohe ki tarah be bas kar dia tha….to..ye sab wo apni beevi se pooch bhi naheen sakta, jo usse ye sab bata bhi naheen sakti”.

Similarly take an instance from last page of the novel that states “taqreeb mein khane peene aur khush gapiuon ka daur chal raha tha.achanak razia ko chakar aa gia, wo gir gaie…to—-usse kamre mein Hataila ka saaya ghoomta huwa nazar aa raha tha…”

Amazingly, Hassan Javaid has succeeded to  fictionize different characters and determine their functions in the context of novel’s story very wisely and smartly.

Hassan Javaid has brought to light very hard realities in projecting very unusual characters such as ‘Hataila’,’Aslam’, ‘Razia’,’Shaakir’,’Lala Nasir’, ‘Maqbool’, ‘Ustad Karam Ali’. ‘Rafique’, ‘Mah Wash’, ‘Abba: Ashraf Kareem’, ‘Shakeel’, ‘Zahid’, ‘Sadiq’, SP Naveed’ and others.

The novelist has not only explored the life styles and performances of these charters but also captured a kind of ‘oddity’ either within the characters or behind the mechanical functions of the characters. It shows an in-depth study of the writer on understanding the contradictory actions, interests, benefits and priorities and even inner feelings of different characters of a class society.

Let me say in his novel,  Hassan Javaid has presented an in-depth study of such a society which is lacking basic rights;  even the very right to life is uncertain because of the violence and terrorism factor.  A power ‘Mafia’ is free to do its deeds.

The government of the day is fulfilling its routine legal duties in a mechanical way. Its priorities are to run the affairs by gaining strength by (bargaining) other powerful groups. The courts of law especially anti-terrorism courts are also working and trying the criminals and terrorists. Interestingly, the courts only see proofs and evidence presented by the prosecution against the accused of terror cases. A terror cases accused and leader of an extremist group Shakir is under custody and the police investigators have failed to interrogate him because of his firm belief not to compromise with the investigators. The novel shows the will and power of state actors over here as they use different tactics to get him surrendered by assuring him not to torture him and to keep him in solitary confinement and finally he records his confessional statement. Under the light of this statement he is awarded life term by the court concerned.

Nevertheless, there are some concerned people either among the law enforcers, intelligence agencies, and dedicated and ideologically committed individuals and groups desiring peace, unity, enlightenment and rule of law and they are using their utmost efforts to get rid of terrorism and violence by keeping an eye on the good and bad actions and also making plans to achieve their cause and mission.

The society is facing a great social and moral crisis as every thing is at sixes and sevens.  The gang leader (Hataila who is considered to be the chief of all underworld groups in this society) is so powerful that on his arrest by a police officer, his men take no time to kidnap the wife of the senior office (SP Naveed).

Eventually, the police have no any options but to free Hataila unconditionally.

The well educated wife of Naveed who is assistant professor at a local college had to assure her husband that she would remain totally safe and nobody would dare to harm her during the period of her captivity.

Interestingly ‘Mafia chief Hataila is a strong opponent of kidnappers of women and children. He is a dangerous criminal who gets kidnapped people for gathering huge ransom. He is also involved in killings and other violent actions but he rescues women and children from kidnappers due to his certain psychological hangs up.

He was once disrespected and victimized during his childhood days. Hence, on his orders the wife of SP remained safe.  Still Naveed gets quite upset as he feels himself to be more weak than a ‘Sadak Chaap’ criminal whose men forced him to release their chief.

Interestingly on the other hand the police chief advises Naveed to compromise his principles and release Hataila for the safety of his wife. At this juncture, the same educated wife of Naveed plays an optimistic role and boosts him up and later he ultimately gives up his doubts and uses to act as a normal person.

Hataila is a different character who coins poems making tall claims about his courage and bravery. He is a man of contradictions as on the one hand he helped the victim women by rescuing and on the other he prefers to kidnap the same women because of some other reasons. However he make it sure not to sexually harass the detained women under all circumstances.

He coins odd poems and sings them by terming himself as ‘wehshi ‘ and also directs the team members of his exercise group to torture him severally by applying lashes on his body. Besides he is very fond of national songs and uses to twist and dance by singing and hearing such songs. Despite of all his power at this stage, Hataila still has a sense of deprivation in relation to his past awful life that at times obliges him to do abnormal activities.  He has his own standards and merits of living, ethics and morality to love and hate the people around him.

The novel depicts the worst conditions of violation of human rights in relation to a kind of political anarchy and that is leading to corruption and extremism. The people of the novel are living in a relatively directionless society which has lost its moral and ethical values and in a way it has become a pervert society.

Although the responsible state actors and enlightened and sincere elements (individuals and groups) in this society are using their utmost efforts to resist the forces of oppression and to get rid of the terrorism and terrorists activities but it is far cry to achieve the target due a chain of conspiracies being hatched by the vested interests.

Interestingly the novel has depicted several ‘unexplained events and incidents’  in the novel which can only be comprehended by a careful reading of the story and following the stimulating actions and  responses of the characters.

The chief of the terrorists (Hataila) has a special exercise group and got victimized and injured by the group intentionally. He keeps up directing his exercise men to injure him by using lashes because of his past awful life. He and his close aide (Aslam) once were insulted (and raped) during their childhood days. Similarly Razia who at present is an energetic social activist along with her colleague Shakeel was also once raped by her paternal uncle (Ashraf Kareem) and a time comes when she identifies the rapist who is attaches high respect by Hataila due to the fact that Ashraf Kareem had supported him and his friend Aslam when the two were shelterless and unsafe .

The turning point of the story is recognition of ‘Abba’; Razia identifies her criminal uncle by his original name that is Ashraf Kareem. Following this drastic turn, Hataila investigates the matter and finally decides to surrender himself before the law. He  prefers to allow a junior police officer (Sadiq) to arrest him. In a way he favours Sadiq who is rewarded and promoted due to the apprehension of a dangerous terrorist. Hataila records his confessional statement and on reaching the prison, he is welcomed by other detained criminals and extremist elements that culminates into another chain of events covered by the electronic media that is keen to twist the news stories in accordance with its needs of rating and policies.

No doubts, Hassan Javaid has made his mark by writing a novel that has many dimensions. At the first blush it is a descriptive novel that has some unusual characters but its undercurrents portray a symbolic view of a society where everything is at sixes and sevens and it needs a perfect perception to deal with the question of creation of meaning in life. The question of meaning is then linked with the matter of life, livelihood, the world of arrangements and and above all the survival of the weak in a society where the law of ‘might is ‘right’ prevails.



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