Begum Safia Mantoo
My dearest Mr. Brij Premi,
I got your letter sometime back. I
apologize for I couldn't reply in time. It is difficult for me to answer many
questions that you have asked. The reason being that I am not interested in
reading and writing. This creates hurdles. Inspite of this I will tell you a
couple of things that I know.
I understand that you love Mantoo. That is
why you want to know everything about him. It pains me to think I don't get any
money, from his writings. Mantoo's books are published in
India. Yet I don't get even a single paisa.
What to write about him?
He has left one thing for us - name and
respect. I am very thankful to him for this. I know that this letter will
disappoint you. Circumstances force me to do this. I would write if I got money
from his writings. But I am not a writer. Besides, why should I write when
nobody cares for him?
Many persons suggest that I write about
Mantoo. I have told you that I can't write. I am not competent enough to do so.
I am an ignorant woman but lucky to have lived with a writer. It was wonderful
life. Mantoo loved me and children. We spent excellent days together. Everybody
was unjust to him. He had never thought of leaving
months before the partition he got a letter from the Filmistan Studio. That
letter broke his heart. Believe me he did not tell me this for a long time. He
trusted Mukherjee and Ashok Kumar and was proud of them. How could he have told
me that a notice had been served to him! After that he drank more and more. His
heavy drinking knew no limits. The result was his death. I came to Pakistan
first and he came in January 1948. He came here a very sad man. His health had
But he went on writing. He produced one
short story a day. He wrote till his death. I don't know much about his books of
short stories. People say that he wrote on everything. It will be better for you
to come to
buy his books and find out the answers to your questions. I can't buy the books
written by my husband because that will give me pain. This letter of mine will
disappoint you but I can't do anything else for you. I am sending you the
genealogy of Mantooís family.
Please contact Agha Khalish Kashmiri (he
edits the weekly Musavir) if you have more questions. He was a close
friend of Mantoo. You may write to Ismat Chugtai, too. I have her address. She
will he able to tell you something about Mantoo. You have asked me about the
house that I live in. Well, it was we who bought it. My share and that of my
daughters was very less. Our share is further divided among sisters and Iqbal.
With God's grace and the blessings of my brothers we were able to buy this
house, otherwise we would have been paupers. The government of this country pays
us a pension of three hundred and fifty rupees. Very less! My brothers
contribute the rest of the money. I pass my time nicely. My mother lives with
me. I pray to God that they bless me. I close this letter with the hope that it
is of some help to you.
bless you! My daughters convey their regards to you.
Begum Safia Mantoo
My dearest Mr. Brij Premi,
I got your letter, I am sorry for not
replying in time. My mother was ill. I too was unwell. With the grace of God we
are fine now. Guests kept on coming. I have two sisters - one lives in
the other lives in
They too were here. One of my two daughters lives in Karachi and the second one
They had come. This is the reason that I couldn't reply your letter earlier. I
hope you will excuse me for this. I did not reply your other letters too. Mr
Brij, I am not good at writing letters. I have to work hard at a letter. I am
not used to writing because I am not a literati.
I am happy to know that you have been
awarded Ph.D for having worked on Mantoo's life and works. Please accept my
congratulations. My sisters too convey congratulations to you. May you succeed
in life! May God fulfil all your desires! In your letter you have asked me to
send you a photograph of Mantoo and me. Sometime back Ismat Chugtai came here. I
gave her the photograph to be handed over to you. I have her address. Ask her to
give you the photograph. What should I write about myself in letters? I have
spent my life in a nice way. You desire that I write about my children. With the
grace of God my three daughters are happily married. My eldest daughter lives in
The middle one lives in
and the youngest is in
Mantoo had three elder brothers. They are dead. His three sisters (two are
step-sisters) are alive. Mantoo's real sister is called Apa. Her name is Nasira
Iqbal. Mantoo never used the words 'step-sisters'. In fact he forbade me from
Hamid Jalal's mother was his sister. She
is dead. My youngest daughter is married to the son of Hamid Jalal and is known
as Shahid Jalal. Nazir Ludhianavi and Rafiq Ghaznavi are also no more. I don't
get any royalty from Mantoo's books. This pains me. My husband served
literature. And many people are making money out of this. I get nothing. This is
unjust. I close this letter here. I don't know what I have written.
I pray for you.
Sardar Dewan Singh Maftoom
My Dear Mr. Premi,
I got your
letter, Mantoo was my close friend. In Delhi he came to my place everyday.
During day time he drank beer and in the evenings be drank liquor. It was
drinking that killed him. I wanted him to have a small doze of liquor. But he
was uncontrollable. These are the answers to the questions that you have :
1. I know nothing about his family and
2) Perhaps his wife lived with her mother
3) He was a Muslim but I have never heard
him say anything about Islam. He was a Muslim the way
I am a Sikh. He leaned towards communism.
3) He was a born short story writer and an
5) I donít consider his writings
pornographic. He described human feelings and emotions. I was a witness in the
court of law when there was a law suit about pornography in his writings.
6) Perhaps he started his career in radio
in 1926. Those days he lived in
Building near the Kashmiri Darwaaza.
7) I donít consider him a journalist
because he was not interested in politics. A journalist must necessarily be
interested in politics.
I will inform you before I come to
Summer. I have your name and address.
My Dear Mr. Brij Premi,
I thank you for appreciating my writings
and achievements. I am very happy to know that you are working on Saadat Hassan
Mantoo. I am always ready to help you in this. Please read my Adab Ke Naye
Memaar published by Maktab Jamia, Bindi Bazzar,
will find answers to many of your questions. Apart from this, get in touch with
other writers of the progressive Movement if you want to know more about Mantoo.
Feel free to write to me, too.
I pray for your success in the literary
work you have taken up.
My dear Mr Brij Premi,
I got your letter of second October
yesterday i.e. 21st of October. It had been kept in the dead letter post office
all these days. This punishment was inflicted on us because the address had been
written in Urdu which is not our national language. This is how poison works. I
don't know when the politicians will understand this simple affair.
I came to
1945.I had been writing poetry for four years. I met Mantoo those days.
Anyhow, one day I went to his home to pay
a courtesy call. When we met he said to me, "Recite a verse". I recited a
ghazal. He said, "I don't like ghazals". I was very junior to him in age and
due to the lack of knowledge suffered from lack of self-confidence.
So I kept quiet. If this thing had been
told to me this time I would have said, "Respected sir, you have said nothing
about the art of poetry".
I know only this much about him.
Salaam Machli Shahri
My Dear Premi,
I got your letter of May the first. I am
delighted to learn that you are working on Mantoo for you Ph.D thesis. Mantoo
was a short story writer and I am a poet. Writing brought me closer to him. We
liked each other. On his death I wrote a poem which was published in a literary
journal. I can't recall the name of the journal.
My observation of Mantoo is that his love
did not border on foolishness. He was a very heavy drinker. (Compared with him
Akhtar Sheerani, Majaz and Meeraji were ordinary drinkers). He dressed himself
in the choicest clothes. He was a simple man even in the family affairs. As a
conversationalist he had his peculiar style. He knew how to rebut his opponents.
It was drinking that defeated him. He talked about intoxication, ecstasy, women,
profligate men, goons, hoodlums, drinking and imaginary revolutions. In his
short stories Mantoo is like a doctor who diagnoses the disease and cures the
patient. He shocks the readers. As a writer he performed his role very well. I
think it is this that gave him
Respected Premi Sahib,
I am really
sorry for the delay in writing to you. I had actually to inform you about
inclusion of your write-up "Saadat Hassan Manto and Russian literature in
the next issue of "Fanoon" and this will appear ending October.
I'll be sending you a copy, God willing. The book authored by you "Manto-life
and achievements" has not reached. I am really eager to go through it. I
can't understand what must be done. Manto was a great writer, besides being my
friend. Manto's letters I have published in the form of a book.
1948 Manto could not write from Lahore and I too from there. I'd come from
In 1948, Mantoo happened to be with me for two nights. I was associated those
days with Peshawar radio. One evening, I served him whisky and a good bottle
would cost Rs 50 to 60. Manto also used to say," Qasimi. I owe you rupees sixty.
Had you too partaken, it would he something different. An unnecessary burden it
was on you, I can feel, but I shall...he would never stop a reference to it. It
is a different story that he was not at all happy as far as money was concerned.
I would ask how he could do it, a person whose monetary condition was so
poor...he could not and why I...should have accepted it.
Printers, Publishers, Book sellers
Dear respected Brij Premi Jee.
Adab, Your expression of reverence for Manto is worthy of
appreciation. May God give you strength and nobleness to your intentions! Long
back was published "Urdu Adab", only two volumes were issued. It had to
be closed down. As pointed out by you much has been written on Manto. Manto
Number of "Naqoosh" and "Naqsh" from
were also published.
May be you
have seen these two volumes. Abu Qureshi's book "Manto" must be gone through.
Mumtaz Sheerin's critical essays in 'Mayaar' and Manto's artistic
achievements also deserve mention. The books can be helpful. If possible, you
can also contact editor of "Naqoosh" and this can help you to know more.
has been written by Ismat and Krishan Chander. This is important to go through.
Both of them were very close to Manto.
I hope you
will consider what I have said.
It has really been a long chain of
hardships-bone breaking struggles, I have passed through. I couldn't really find
time to write to you and for all this I request to be excused.
I am sending two volumes of "Savera".
I would have liked to send your other publications, write ups in other
magazines, but couldn't really do it. Whatever, I could, I am sending.
In "Savera" Hanif Rai had attempted to
write some thing in form of a write-up. Ismat Chugtai had been very severe with
her sharp and literary remarks. I haven't the copy of Ismat's write-up, which I
could send. If possible, get a copy from
writing to her. Or, you can have it from some library after ascertaining the
date of this publication. This write-up will be immensely useful.
One thing more. Manto was not admitted to
a Mental hospital in connection with insanity, if you call it like that. The
reality is that in
in Mental hospital, there are some de-addiction centres. He was admitted to
ensure that he could give up liquor.
My book 'Moj Sarab' under
publication is almost complete. I don't like it to be given to a publisher, even
if some advertisement about that had appeared in "Naya Idara". If financial
conditions allow, I'll get it published myself.
You are living in a real
life here is really not so good. May God help that we breath freely in a very
fine and harmonious atmosphere. My "Salam" to every particle, everything of
Dear Brij Premi
received the telegram regarding success of Wasiq, so kind of you. I do not know
why the result of Nikhat is not out. I am leaving this place for Srinagar on 6th
March. I will be at
on 8th. I shall stay at
till 10th March and will leave for
11 O'clock bus. Nikhat's leg is fractured and she is
in bed for the last two months. I pray to God that you are doing well. May God
help you and shower blessings. Whenever I happen to visit a library I always
look for a book on Manto. Here I got a book from (Asifia) library. The book is
titled "Jenaze" and it is a collection of essays of Manto. The compositions are
of a dramatic form as death of Chengez Khan, death of Taimur, death of
Cleopetra, Death of Napolean, death of Babur, death of Shahjahan, death of Tipu,
death of Rasputin. In "Humayun", January 1938, I happened to have
seen his story "Naya Qanoon". A clerk told me that in
"Nigar" and some other journals, there are many write-ups on Manto. I
have talked to him and you too can, if you need, have a list of these essays...
In Asifia a list of more books is
Sheerin, Khali Botleyn (stories) Zahree-e-hilal (collection of
dramas, stories and essays) Surkando Ke Peechey (stories), Bees Gair
Mutbua Kahaniya Twenty unpublished stories) Ismat Chugtai (Biography)
Ganjey Fareshtey, Noor Jahan, Saroor Jahan, Yazeed, Phansi (Translation
Victor Hugo), Veera (Translation of Oscar Wilde).
Every body is fine. Praying for your
*(Translated by M.N. Kak)
Mr. Brij Krishen Aima
The wife of the Russian Ambassador, Mrs. Syrodeeva is coming
to the Department of Urdu on May 30 at 2 0'Clock. She has worked on Manto. You
should come without fail and try to meet her. Even if you have to take leave,
take half day's leave. Perhaps, she is going back the day after. You may not
find such an occasion again.
- Abdul Qadir