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March 28, 2021

A book on hard-to-define Mumtaz Mufti

March 28, 2021

The book titled ‘Mufti Jee Aur Main’ by Farheen Choudhry presents the incredible story of Mumtaz Mufti and his family and friends. Mumtaz Mufti was an amazing man, and his story is an amazing story. He was a man whose sole goals were human dignity and total liberation.

Farheen explores the sadness and pain that turned Mumtaz Mufti into one of the greatest writers. The book includes mesmerizing sketches of Iqbal Begum (Ammi Ji), Uxi Mufti, Tehmina, Saboohi, Askari, Qudratullah Shahab etc. infusing life into the book. Enigmatically serious but wholly true, this is the story of Mumtaz Mufti’s lifetime of secrets.

Read any chapter such as ‘Allah Lok Ka Dhabha’, ‘Askari Aur Vespa’, ‘Yeh Radio Azad Kashmir Hai’ etc., you will find she hobnobbed with people you wish you knew and some you honestly wish you did not. At once jaunty and erudite, her writing simply shines.

Her portraits of Iqbal Begum (Ammi Ji), Uxi Mufti, Tehmina, Saboohi, Askari, and many more constitute the cross-sews. This is how she binds the quilt of her book and embedded in it you will find strength, warmth, and humanity.

As she shares stories of the individuals, places, ideals, and the writing art to which she has remained permanently committed, she brings into focus both the large experiences and small moments that have shaped this book.

This weird, instinctive, melancholy description finds the author looking back on her early period of life, giving voice and character to her own reminiscences. Moreover, together, in dialogue, she interrogates, teases, and provokes Mumtaz Mufti as she attempts to describe, in precise, vivid prose, both the wonders and mystery of Mumtaz Mufti’s indefinable personality and his intangible nature.

This book goes a long way toward cutting through the sensationalist hype that dogged the figure of Mumtaz Mufti, revealing the very human and multi-layered person beneath, whose contradictions and passions made him an intellectual something not attainable for those living inside the ivory towers of the academic world and the gilded halls of established political power.

There are so many things that will be familiar to a reader’s own memory and so many that will be revelations. The book is sweet and deeply humanoid.

Farheen’s accomplishments are many, but it is her exhaustive knowledge and abiding passion for Mumtaz Mufti that sets her in another realm. Erudite and entertaining, her book is a sensitive, observant take on a life lived and surrounded by meaningful people.

Farheen’s conviction pulls you fleetly through the book, as does the potency of her bond with Mumtaz Mufti’s family. What a pleasant surprise to feel that she is not just a talented writer, but also a woman with a remarkable depth of passion for her art and her friends. Her narration is top-notch.