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Correspondence

From Begum Safia Mantoo

Lahore

6-4-1968

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 Pakistan and 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 India. Some 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 deteriorated.

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 Pakistan, 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.

May God bless you! My daughters convey their regards to you.

Your Sister

Safia Mantoo


From Begum Safia Mantoo

Lahore

18-12-1976

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 Karachi and the other lives in Rawalpindi. They too were here. One of my two daughters lives in Karachi and the second one lives in Rawalpindi. 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 Karachi, The middle one lives in Lahore and the youngest is in Rawalpindi. 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 saying so.

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.

Your Sister

Safia


From 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 ancestors.

2) Perhaps his wife lived with her mother in Lahore.

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 essayist.

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 Hassan 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 Srinagar in Summer. I have your name and address.

Yours Sincerely,

Dewan Singh Maftoom


From Krishan Chander

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, Bombay. You 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.      

Yours Sincerely,

Krishen Chander


From Majrooh Sultanpuri

Bombay,

22 October, 1976

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 Bombay in 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.

Yours

Majrooh Sultanpuri


From Salaam Machli Shahri

A Satara

Pindara Road, Delhi

12-5-1967

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 fame.                                               

Yours Sincerely,

Salaam Machli Shahri


Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi

28 September 1989

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.

...After 1948 Manto could not write from Lahore and I too from there. I'd come from Peshawar. 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.

Yours

Ahmed Nadeem Qasmi


Allau-ud-Din Mazhar,

Maktaba Jadeed

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 Karachi 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.

One essay 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.

Yours sincerely

Allamud-Din Mazhar.


Naseer Anwar

Karachi

Dear Premi,

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 Bombay after 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 Lahore, 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 Paradise and 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 Kashmir.

Yours

Naseer Anwar


Abdul Qadir Sarwari

Himayat Nagar

Hyderabad (Deccan)

Dated 25/2/1968

Dear Brij Premi

Yesterday, I 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 Jammu on 8th. I shall stay at Jammu till 10th March and will leave for Srinagar by 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 mentioned below.

Talakh Turush and 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 welfare.

Your well wisher

Abdul Qadir Sarwari

*(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 Sarwari

29/3/1968

Source: Kashmir Sentinel

  

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