Raat Ka Manzarnama | Book Review by Waseem A Malla

About the Author
Mohammad Abrar (pen name: Abrar Mojeeb) was born in Jamshedpur (Jharkhand) on 23 September 1964. In 1992, he received the IPTA award for the best short story writer. Although he started his literary journey earlier, it was only after 2001 that it caught pace. Since then, he has published more than 50 short stories in prestigious Urdu literary magazines like Shabkhoon, Shair, Zaban-o-Adab, Aaj (Pakistan), Funoon (Pakistan), to mention a few. His short story Afwah has been translated into English for publication in Shahitya academy’s prestigious magazine Indian Literature, and into Bangla for Katha O Kalam. Shamsur Rahman Farooqui Ki Tanqeed Nigari, Eik Taza Madeene Ki Talash (Novel), Aamad-e-Fasl-e- Lalakari (short story) are some of his anticipated works.
Raat Ka Manzarnama

About the book
Title: Raat Ka Manzarnama
Author: Abrar Mojeeb 
ISBN: 978-93-81029-42-8
Publisher: Arshia Publications
Price: Rs 300

Raat Ka Manzarnama is a collection of 15 short stories in Urdu by Abrar Mojeeb. The book starts with a fiery introduction, which when read in combination with the blurb on the back-cover, seems more than an oration than a written statement about coming of age of Urdu fiction in general, and the fiction itself in particular. Abrar Mojeeb denounces the convenient, though often misplaced, categorisation of literature into arbitrary forms, and strongly advocates in favour of viewing the written word as an unadulterated outpouring of what a writer faces and feels as a logical/rational being – Haiwaan-e-Naatiq. The points put forth in these few pages outdo a bigger chunk written in the name of ‘criticism’, ‘critical analysis’, and other fancy words like these.
Coming to the stories, the first story of the collection Pichhwade Ka Naala employs symbolism to deal with family values, relationships, love and loss, and how these threads have changed hues over time to evolve into something shallow and bland with the advent of materialism. However, the indifferent attitude is replaced by a sense of belonging and of responsibility as the story proceeds. 
One of the notable things is how the author - employing metaphor, magic realism and symbolism - weaves surreal tales and through myths & legends leads the reader from the past to the present, and then to the future. 

The references to historical events or people are subtle at times and more direct at others. The village in Pushpgram Ka Itihaas is the microcosm of the subcontinent, both in its historical and modern contexts. However, the references in Afwaah (lit.: rumour) are subtler. The narrator speaks of a rumour about an undefined crime being committed. The place or the time frame in which the events take place are again undefined, so are the victim and the perpetuator. This might have been done deliberately for the story to have a universal appeal. The author plays with the readers’ wit and the interpretations may vary as per the reader’s inclination. 

The political history of the subcontinent, though prominent, is just one of the themes explored in this book. There are stories that deal with the present as well, as pointed out already about Pichhwade Ka Naala. Another story – Nirvaan Se Paray – documents the struggle of an artist who wants to paint a peaceful and a serene face amidst all the clamour surrounding him. 

Through his stories, Abrar talks about diverse issues, simple & complex, relevant socially or individually. He raises important questions through his stories: to the people who are doing their best to manipulate history, how far do you want to go back in time? A hundred years, or a millennium, or two? There is a history beyond prehistory; why do we need to stop at a point in time that suits your version of history? Given the prevailing political environment, these questions are bound to make people uncomfortable. Kudos to the author for such a fearlessness. If you are looking for something different to read, this is the book. The only downside to it is that it has not been translated into English yet. If you can read Urdu, go for it. 

About the ReviewerWaseemA Malla is a Junior Research Fellow at ICAR – Indian Veterinary Research institute, who loves to read books in whatever little free time he has.

Disclaimer: The views of the author are strictly personal and do not in anyway represent the views of the Pir Panjal Post

Pir Panjal Post is a blogging outlet which aims at educating people and creating awareness on the issues concerning human society like Education, Politics, Economics, Science, art and literature. The main focus of this blog is on encouraging the budding writers, poets, painters, calligraphers, photographers etc. Besides, it intends to serve the vernacular languages.