A Hameed – The man who taught Pakistani children how to dream

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Express Tribune

Childhood and fantasies have a close-knit relationship. While Blyton, Dahl and Rowling continue to take generation after generation on a fantastical journey, for some, Ainak Wala Jin was their first step into fantasyland. At a time when political turmoil and religion were a prominent part of most of our literature, there was a man who pioneered the genres of romance and fantasy in the Urdu language. April 29 marks the fourth death anniversary of that literary genius – A Hameed.

From Nastoor’s strikingly arched hair to Bil Batori’s rhythmic chant, ‘Bil Batori naasa chauri, aadhi meetha, aadhi kori. I am sorry, I am sorry,” the show, which follows the life of a spectacled genie, was nothing short of a spectacle. 25 years since Hameed created the television masterpiece and not a single screenwriter has been able to emulate the magic he wove into the characters, such as Zakoota and Bil Batori.

Speaking to The Express Tribune, the late writer’s daughter Lalarukh Hameed said, “Ainak Wala Jin is and will always remain our Harry Potter,” she said. She reminisced about him reading excerpts from digests to her and her older brother. She said that an old armchair, a backrest, an Aligro pen, a wet handkerchief with jasmine flowers on it, cigarettes and a cup of tea were his only companions during his journey of inking emotions.

Born on August 25, 1928 in Amritsar, the writer chose to migrate to Lahore with a heavy heart in the wake of the 1947 partition. He remained associated with Radio Pakistan for several years and also served as writer for Voice of America for three years. When he could never part ways with Amritsar, how could he forsake his second love, Lahore? So, then on, Hameed lived in the city, which is also where he breathed his last.

Donning a regal corduroy jacket and a muffler, Hameed frequented Pak Tea House, the bastion of Pakistan’s intellectual acumen. There, his camaraderie expanded to literary giants, such as Ibne Safi, Munir Niazi, Ahmed Rahi and Ashfaq Ahmed. It was the same café where he met his wife Rehana for the first time.

The couple enjoyed a lifetime of companionship and Hameed would never forego the tradition of having tea with Rehana at 5:00pm every day. “Eating something while having tea is an insult to the drink,” Hameed once wrote. Lalarukh said that her mother’s health deteriorated following Hameed’s demise and there is little hope for recovery.

Of his writing prowess, Manto once said, “Hameed could write a romantic masterpiece for a lamppost.” With a career that spanned over decades, Hameed published his first collection of short stories Manzil Manzil when Pakistan was still in its inceptive stage and his last works came to the fore in 2010. Hameed’s seminal creation was the unparalleled Ambar Nag Maria series. Hameed penned 200 books in the 83 years he lived.

Amritsar, jasmine, tobacco, tea and Lahore were the things Hameed lived for. Once, a friend who was going to Amritsar, asked Hameed if he wanted something from there. Hameed replied, “Bring me a flower from Company Gardens.” He wrote, “Amritsar is my lost Jerusalem and my life is its wailing wall.” Hameed’s pen and notepad accompanied him to the hospital during his last days. He passed away with two regrets – not being able to complete his autobiography and return to Amritsar, his daughter notes.

Express Tribune, “The man who taught Pakistani children how to dream,” in Express Tribune, April 28, 2015. Accessed on April 29, 2015, at: http://tribune.com.pk/story/877357/the-man-who-taught-pakistani-children-how-to-dream/

The item above written by Express Tribune and published in Express Tribune on April 28, 2015, is catalogued here in full by Faiz-e-Zabaan for non-profit educational purpose only. Faiz-e-Zabaan neither claims the ownership nor the authorship of this item. The link to the original source accessed on April 29, 2015, is available here. Faiz-e-Zabaan is not responsible for the content of the external websites.

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