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Saturday July 20, 2024

A rare get together on a wet, cold evening

By Mobarik A Virk
January 26, 2017

Islamabad

How many times one can see people like I.A. Rehman, Munno Bhai, Dr Ashfaq Saleem Mirza, Qasim Bughio, Ms Khawar Mumtaz and Hameed Shahid under one roof in Islamabad in an unofficial gathering? I don’t think even once a year!

Well, Kishwar Naheed made this happen when she brought them together at her place Tuesday despite that being a cold, wet night with a persistent downpour that kept varying in its intensity but not stopping for a minute.

But then, you know, Kishwar Aapi is known for making such things happen!

If she, while serving as the Director-General of the Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA) can tell her Minister in his face she has thrown open the event, which he was supposed to inaugurate as the chief guest because he failed to turn up on time, she can do anything!

So, she made the ‘miracle’ happen. All these people were crammed in that space in the drawing room of her flat. Some sunk in thick-cushioned sofas, some on hard, straight back seating, some squatted on the cushions thrown on the floor, some preferred to stay on their feet for the whole evening!

Some sat shoulder to shoulder, not a very comfortable position. I am sure some of them would not have stayed for any longer period of time in such cramped sitting, but here everybody felt so ‘at home’!

Discussion flowed freely, mostly focused on literature, poetry and novels, and columns. I really haven’t seen many new novels churning out of the pens of our intellectuals. Well, not many at least, which may have gripped public attention. 

But Hameed Shahid corrected me when he came up with a whole list of new novels that have been written, published and marketed over the last year, some of those, according to him, of great literary, historical and socio-cultural value. Something coming from Hameed Shahid has to be credible.

And when you have Munno Bhai with you, it would be a sin not to listen to his poetry in his own voice. So, there it was, the famous ‘Ehtesaab Key Chief Commissioner Sahab Bahadar’! So appropriate seemed to be the timing. I really wonder as to when Munno Bhai wrote this potent and poignant ‘nazam’ but it seemed as if he has churned that out only yesterday!

And with I.A. Rehman around how can you side-step the nagging human rights issues all over the country? So, those were there too. The forced disappearances of people, the rights of minority communities, the rights of suppressed and oppressed people! Such a fatherly and comforting sight make makes and such reassuring words he mouths for all those in desperate situations and conditions.

There were Shakeel Jazib and Bhabi, as usual I must say! Hassan Abbas Raza, Haris Khaleeq, Rehman Faris and Mehboob Zafar were the prominent poets. The well-know architect, Naeem Pasha was also present.

But interesting was the presence of some ‘leaders’ of the journalist community! Afzal Butt was there accompanied by Jehangir Minhas. And I never knew if Jehangir Minhas can sing so well despite his size. No pun intended!!! He sang and he sang well, I must say, to much amusement of the guests all around him.

The dinner served on the occasion was simply sumptuous. The traditional ‘sarsoon ka saag’, ‘chotay pa’ay’ (goat trotters), Kashmiri gushtaba, at least two or three different types of chapattis and ‘gajar ka halwa’ and ‘gulab jamun’!  I hope Kishwar Aapi’s flat will not be ransacked!