Garrison city’s literary scene goes bleak with death of literary star

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Zubair Qureshi

Well-known short story writer, critic and a retired professor of Urdu, Dr Rasheed Amjad passed away on Wednesday leaving the twin cities’ writers, poets, colleagues and family members mourning the death of their mentor and a towering figure of the city’s literary scene. He was 78.

Rasheed Amjad has left behind a widow, two sons, and a daughter. His Namaz-e-Janaza will be held close to his residence Lane-7, Gulistan Colony subject to his sons’ arrival from Canada as they are on their way to attend the funeral.

Known for his ‘symbolic’ short stories, knowledge, mastery, and craft, Rasheed Amjad was adored by generations of young writers and readers who admired his faith in the short story particularly its genre ‘symbolic short stories’ and stuck to them till his last breath.

Rasheed Amjad, Ejaz Rahi, Mansha Yad and Mazharul Islam were among the writers in post-1970s who lived in Rawalpindi and did a great deal in making the garrison city ‘Shehr-e-Afsana.’ Later, Mansha Yad and Mazharul Islam shifted to Islamabad and Rasheed Amjad, Ejaz Rahi and other fellow short story writers had to come to the federal capital and gave the city the same title ‘Shehr-e-Afsana’ (City of Short Story).

However, to Rasheed Amjad, Rawalpindi had something full of romance, inspiration, and beaming with great talent.

According to the noted short story writer, Hameed Shahid it goes to the credit of Rasheed Amjad that he guided, mentored scores of writers and critics.

“As a teacher of Urdu literature, too, Dr Rasheed Amjad kept motivating his students to continue their studies and today, I can say with confidence, dozens of Ph.D. holders owe their Doctorate to Rasheed Amjad’s insistence and guidance,” said Hameed Shahdi.

About his use of ‘symbolism’ in short stories and this particular genre, Hameed Shahid said Rasheed Amjad and Dr. Anwar Sajjad were perhaps the only two representative writers of this particular genre.

Though Dr. Anwar Sajjad had given up writing even in his lifetime, Rasheed Amjad kept weaving stories till the last day of his life.

He was a prolific writer and possessed a rich, fertile mind as well as soul, said Hameed Shahid.

Some of Rasheed Amjad’s short stories like “Satt Rangi Parinday kay Ta’aqub Main,” (Chasing the Seven-Coloured Bird) “Lamp Post,” “Dukh Aik Chirya Hay” (Grief is a Sparrow), earned him fame in the subcontinent and well-known magazines took pride in publishing his stories, said he.

Today, Rawalpindi mourns its son who gave a lively picture of the city in his autobiography “Tamana Bay Taab,” said Hameed Shahid. Dr Rasheed Amjad retired from Gordon College as Professor of Urdu. He also worked as Head of the Urdu Department at the National University of Modern Languages (NUML) and the Islamic International University of Islamabad.

Chairman of the Pakistan Academy of Literature (PAL) Dr. Yousuf Khushk has also expressed deep sorrow over the demise of Dr. Rasheed Amjad.