Nadir Ali

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Nadir Ali

The Punjabi Narrative Reviewed By Altaf Hussain Asad Dawn

Nadir Ali
Nadir Ali

Although he is nearly 73, there is something in his personality that makes you realise that time has been quite benevolent to him. He looks still young, energetic and full of life.

His sharp features and snow white hair are enough to label him a hero of tinsel town. Nadir Ali oozes only warmth, love and softness. He likes to keep himself busy and literature is what keeps him going.

His life appears to revolve around Punjabi literature. He could have easily opted for Urdu literature but his mother tongue is the language he chose to dabble in. Come rain or hailstorm, Nadir Ali writes Punjabi poetry and fiction all the time.

Twice a week he attends a gathering called the ‘Sangat’ where other Punjabi writers gather and analyse Punjabi literature with undying devotion.

Before joining the cadre of writers, Nadir Ali served in the army and rose to the position of colonel. He saw with his own eyes the drama that unfolded in East Pakistan as he was serving there at the time of the 1971 debacle. That great tragedy took a heavy toll on him as he submerged into sea of gloom. Literature rescued him at the time.

Then he met Najam Hosain Syed who changed the course of his life by taking him under his wing. Najam Hosain Syed, a giant of a scholar and lover of Punjabi literature, exhorted him to write. That’s how Nadir Ali took to writing in Punjabi. He took his work seriously and, under the guidance of his mentor, he has enriched Punjabi literature with his poetry, as well as prose and literary criticism.

Even when he moved to the United States he did not sever links with Punjabi. So far he has penned four books. Considering that he started writing in 1973, his first book should have been published much earlier. But it wasn’t until 1989 that he published a collection of his poetry under the title Bol Choothay Tay Sachay.

At the same time, he penned many stories and thus a collection of stories was published in 1995 under the title Kahani Kara. Another collection titled Kahani Lekha followed suit in 2001. His recent collection Kahani Paraga is the third book of his Punjabi stories.

The book under review, Kahani Paraga (Handful Stories), is a bit bulky as compared to his other books. It contains 55 short, as well long, pieces of prose that revolve around the rural ambience of Punjab. Some of the pieces are also auto- biographical as the author has made good use of his military background.

The collection contains Punjabi translations of the stories by Franz Kafka and Margaret Green. Nadir Ali writes unadul-terated Punjabi and he is also well aware of the idioms as well the adages that were in vogue in rural Punjab. This enhances his prose no end. He has written Punjabi which does not contain any Urdu words as he truly believes in the purity of the language.

He has been able to paint the verdure land of five rivers with quite finesse.

‘Sunj’ is the story of a retired man who lives alone in his house after the death of his spouse. His serene routine gets the death blow when he finds himself in some real trouble for no fault of his own. ‘Khaira Annha’ is an interesting piece involving a blind man who acts as a blind beggar to collect alms. At the end of the story, he reveals the real reason he acts as a blind person. Other stories like ‘Pathar Day Insaan’, ‘Akhbar’, ‘Ronqa Ladla’ and others are good pieces. Nadir Ali has done well by devoting himself to Punjabi language and literature. Punjabi, the 14th most widely spoken language in the world, needs more dedicated writers like Nadir Ali.

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