- A REVIEW OF SHAAKH-E-NIHAL-GHUM
In his book Shaakh-e-Nihal-e-Ghum, an autobiographical memoir, Ali Amjad Sahib takes those of his readers, familiar with the period, the places and the people, into their memory lanes. His simple and successful style of Urdu writing from, apparently, his admirable memory, to say the least, is fascinating.
Amjad Sahib was born in India when the country was under the British rule. The political mood was simmering with slow but steady movement towards the freedom of India from colonialism. Far away, Russian revolution, to add icing on the cake, fired up by Communism was showing a vision of utopian society. The influence of Communism travelled fast and far and percolated into the minds of many intellectual and progressive Indians.
His bringing up in and outside his family soon gravitated Amjad Sahib to Communism, as early as he reached his adulthood. He too was excited with the idea of changing his environment and, perhaps, transforming it into an egalitarian society. He became a committed Communist and put his activities through trade union centred in the industrial town of Jamshedpur. He was imprisoned a number of times for advocating and advancing his cause and creed.
While reading the book I expected Amjad Sahib to express his views on certain issues of paramount importance such as Hindu-Muslim relations as he went through that period of his life, as a political activist, when his country was divided. Furthermore, his accounts instead of arguments and his silence instead of his viewpoints on Communism that fashioned a major part of his active life in India leave the book with a gaping hole.¬ ¬
Long before his death Amjad Sahib appeared to have discovered his world too complex to comprehend and to change and thus he lost his way in the political wilderness resulting into despair and disappointment. He had to compromise and come to terms with the reality and routine of life and thus, at last, he persuaded himself to knit into his family ties in Karachi.
Perhaps, Amjad Sahib wrote the book to reach out to the extended members of his family, his wide circle of friends and his well wishers. The book records his life, which originated, as he himself reveals, from small and sleepy Chapra and finally, so far of course, branched out to smart and sprawling San Diego. Is it a triumph or a tragedy, he does not say?
Nothing could better describe than when Amjad Sahib ends his book in a couplet, with its first line: Hai kahan tammanna ka doosra qadam yarab (Where is now the next step of my aspiration, oh Lord) ‚EUR" as if, the tide has gone out of the winds.
M Nauman Khan, West Wimbledon, London.
Note: Shaakh-e-Nihal-e-Gham is published in Karachi and Patna with some differences. Patna edition has no family photo album. Jabir Husain Sahib who has published the book, through Urdu Markaz, Patna, at his request to Ali Amjad Sahib, got some narratives updated on Ali Ashraff Sahib and Zuhra Daudi, who also passed away and that bits of narrative are missing in Karachi edition.