An untimely loss

 
June 03, 2020

Rarely does a person of literary merit consistently produce so much work of high quality as Dr Asif Farrukhi did in a short time. Sixty is not an age to die, especially when you had such huge...

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Rarely does a person of literary merit consistently produce so much work of high quality as Dr Asif Farrukhi did in a short time. Sixty is not an age to die, especially when you had such huge potential to contribute much more in different genres of literature. He was a quintessential litterateur with a passion for reading and writing, and an immense desire to enliven the literary scene in Pakistan. Though a medical doctor by profession and a public health expert by choice, he was immersed in all colours of arts and humanities. His father, a renowned Urdu scholar and fiction writer Dr Aslam Farrukhi, died at the age of 92, four years ago in Karachi, and Asif had inherited the genes that enabled him to become a critic, editor, a historian of literature, a humanities professor at Habib University, an initiator and organizer of literary festivals, a short-story writer, a translator; in short an intellectual par excellence.

Asif’s literary journey spanned over at least three decades. He managed to perform his duties in the medical profession as well as in his vocation of choice – his love for literature. He established his credentials as a literary critic much earlier in his career. Asif was not one to confine himself to his reading desk or writing table; he interacted with people with an enthusiastic zeal that helped him launch the Karachi Literature Festival in 2010. He took it upon himself to break the monotony of literary sittings. Asif Farrukhi’s festivals were not a boring affair; they were full of literature enthusiasts who thronged in droves to multiple sessions. Asif took his zeal of literary festivals to other cities across Pakistan where it became a regular trend.

Having worked for 20 years at Unicef, he finally was able to pursue his academic life full-time at Habib University in Karachi from 2014. As dean and professor of humanities, he inspired his students to expand their intellectual horizons. With six collections of short stories to his credit, and two books of literary criticism, he had formidable energy to work long hours perfecting his writings and editing others’. His literary journal ‘Dunyazad’ reflected his penchant for world literature. His love for other languages was beyond question as he made conscious efforts to bring the diverse ethnic communities in Sindh closer to each other. His contribution to the field of literature was immense, and he will be intensely missed by his friends and readers. He was indeed a literary giant, the likes of whom are not many in Pakistan; it will be an understatement to say that we needed him the most now, when he was at the pinnacle of his potential to promote literature in Pakistan’s intellectually barren fields.



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