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January 17, 2021

Jamil Yousaf’s enlightening, remarkable pen-portraits

Islamabad

January 17, 2021

The book “Baatain: Kutch Adabi, Kutch Bay-Adabi Ki” written by Jamil Yousaf is a mirror of his intellect. This is a vibrant book. Jamil Yousaf recounts moments with literary friends and favorites. The talk is abundant and top-shelf. It is refreshing to read such a book of reflections and reminiscences.

With a sprinkling of some motivational stuff, his writing captures the essence of the characteristics of the subject. His ability to unmask a person’s inner self in a few pages is amazing. “Short History of Urdu Literature” testifies to this.

Creative persons have a tendency to develop gripes among themselves. Jamil Yousaf tackles Saqi Farooqi’s disparaging remarks about Dr. Wazir Agha’s poetry by quoting his bawdy language, which reveals Saqi Farooqi’s mentality. The best thing about Jamil Yousaf is the objectivity with which he pens the episode.

He constantly updates the library of visual images in his memory as his articles on Col. Muhammad Khan, Josh, Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi, Mushfiq Khaja, Syed Abdul Hameed Adam, Shoaib Bin Aziz, Munir Niazi, Syed Zamir Jafary, and Ahmad Faraz show. At times, his portraits are novelistic and his writing exceedingly candid and frank. He paints pen-pictures with purposeful clarity.

Jamil Yousaf’s write-ups on “what is poetry, what is a classic, why I write” are fresh and have a quintessentially literary voice and a beautiful one. The confidence of his tone makes him write things in his own way.

He weaves in his own experiences, his own understanding of what defines meaningful literature. His writings on Muhammad Iqbal Akhtar, Rasheed Qaisrani, Syed Safdar Hussain Jafri, Nusrat Choudhary, Umre Khayyam, Mirza Ghalib, Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, Allamah Iqbal, Hafeez Jallendari, Akhter Sheerani, Majeed Amjad, Professor Khurshid Rizvi, Moulana Zafar Ali Khan, and Dr. Mahmoodul Hasan are also quite thought-provoking. He writes in a way, to say appropriately both big-heartedly and straightforwardly.

In addition, come to think of it, several persons under discussion in his writings had long disappeared from public space and public memory until Jamil Yousaf tracked them down like finding a needle in a haystack. With the needle, he has stitched together a book that has added many more years to the literary figures like Baqi Siddique we thought had died.

His description is powerful and exceptionally beautiful. He has a real literary gift. When a veteran writer like Jamil Yousaf writes, he weaves amazing tales that reveal the individual’s status with the accuracy of an x-ray. Narrated in his own style, all his writings are palatable.

“Baatain: Kutch Adabi, Kutch Bay-Adabi Ki” is a book that carries the reader through mood swings and whatever else we humans have to go through. No wonder then that the book by this literary genius, Jamil Yousaf contains various word-renders, interspersed with avid text.