A compilation of Zamurrad Malik’s works, in an attempt to introduce future generations to his spellbinding literary persona
"During my time at Murray College and Sialkot, I was indeed surrounded by some extraordinarily gifted people, Malik being one of them." This is how veteran journalist Khalid Hasan remembers the late scholar, critic, poet and academic, Zamurrad Malik in his book Rearview Mirror.
"He joined Murray College as an English lecturer when I was already in my third year. Having lived in Lahore all his life, he knew many people that we had not even heard of, which was extraordinary for us as students. We became friends shortly. Malik was known in college for his outlandish theories;for instance, he used to say that every third word in The Concise Oxford Dictionary meant ‘genus of fish’. He had a theory about everything, from poetry to astrology to kite flying to existentialism to revolution to tea drinking", Hasan further mentions in the book.
Hasan cherished the times he spent in his native city Sialkot in the company of outstanding people like Zamurrad Malik. To say that Malik was a multi-talented man is to state the obvious. A voracious reader, he was well-entrenched in many areas for example English literature, Punjabi literature, history, philosophy, astrology, music, palmistry and calligraphy, to say the least. With such an astounding erudition, he impressed a whole lot of people who came into contact with him during his career as an academic. Hasan too came under Malik’s wing and never forgot his amazing personality. He reminisced about the times spent with Malik in many of his columns.
Fakhar Zaman, himself an established Punjabi poet, novelist and critic, has managed to compile his comrade Malik’s life’s work in a book, Zamurrad Malik, Shaksiat Aur Takhleeqat, in an attempt to introduce future generations to his spellbinding literary persona. In this book, Malik’s old friends share their views about the scholar in a candid manner. Towards the end, the volume also contains Malik’s works in Urdu and Punjabi.
In a short piece, Mustansar Hussain Tarar remembers him as a gem who remained unexplored. He also mentions that once Malik told him that the reason for his sudden fascination with writing poetry in Punjabi was his belief that poetry should be written in the language of one’s dreams.
The doyen of leftist intellectuals, Amin Mughal pays him a glowing tribute in a short Punjabi article in which he says that Malik was among some of the most well-read men of his times and his was a voice which always vouched for humanist and liberal causes.
In the compilation, Shahid Malik, journalist and broadcaster, has written a long piece which reads more like a pen sketch of Malik, in which the whole ambience of Murray College, where he taught English literature, has been recreated. He writes that Malik was a brilliant conversationalist who would regularly hold court at the college canteen with his dutiful pupils, and discuss virtually everything under the sun over never-ending cups of tea. Sharing his experiences about the books and authors he had read or had been reading with his devotees was his favourite pastime of Malik. There wasn’t any dull moment while he was around as he could talk on different subjects with equal ease.
A Punjabi translation of Khalid Hasan’s brilliant piece on Malik has also been included in this volume. He narrates that it was Malik who introduced him to many authors including Dostoevsky. "Once Zamurrad Malik asked one of our friends Izzo Massey whether he had read Dostoevsky ‘You know I never read Urdu’ pat came the reply from Izzo."
As said earlier, Malik’s Urdu writings and Punjabi poems have been added to the volume, giving a distinct flavour to the collection. His Punjabi poems speak volumes about his literary genius as they seem to usher in a modern sensibility in Punjabi poetry. His book of Punjabi poetry Kee Likhan was hailed as a breath of fresh air back when it was published.
All in all, Qurratulain Malik, daughter of Zamurrad Malik, and Fakhar Zaman deserve plaudits for putting together the present volume.
Zamurrad Malik, Shaksiat Aur Takhliqaat
Author: Compiled by Fakhar Zaman
Publisher: Classic publishers Regal Chowk Lahore
Price: Rs 250