Meet Raza Rabbani the short story writer!
Once you pick up the slim collection of ten short stories titled ‘Invisible People’ you cannot put it back until you read and absorb all of them. Senate Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani has literary sparks—everyone knew that since he has written a number of books on federalism and constitution—but no one expected he would emerge in entirely new looks this time, writer of short stories.
True to his reputation of being a ‘man of the masses’ Raza Rabbani has picked characters of his stories from everyday life, common men, beggars, shopkeepers, fruit sellers, litigants, factory workers, villagers, local politicians, housemaids, clerks and prisoners. They and many like them make most of our society yet they are ‘invisible people’ seldom noticed by those in power doomed to languish in quest for justice, happiness and comforts of life.
Locale of his stories is also taken from the oft-visited and much-trodden paths and places, chowks and corridors, offices and markets where these ‘invisible people’ live and try to make both ends meet. The 130-page Sang-e-Meel publication has the writer’s confessions as well. In ‘Confessions’ the writer says these stories were brewing in his mind for several years but he had little time to pen them down.
However, the ‘street urchins’, ‘kidnapped boys’ who are forced to beg, ‘sexually assaulted maids’, ‘litigants facing ordeals of court & kutchery’ kept him reminding his duty towards them that he ought to talk about and make people aware of their plight. It is upon these characters’ insistence that he woke up to the call of conscience and penned down their stories.
Giving a rationale of titling the book as ‘Invisible People’ Raza Rabban writes, “I remembered once seeing a street beggar whose face was bandaged, save for an opening for his eyes. It put me in mid of the 1950s British television serial “The Invisible Man,” the protagonist of which had become invisible through a scientific experiment gone awry and had afterwards to wear bandages on his face just to be seen. I thought that people like the beggar on the street were also invisible because of an accident—an accident of life.”
Besides tales of woes and sufferings of common men and women of Pakistan, these stories also have traces of mysticism. The writer reads ‘Allah Hoo’ in the curves of the waves of ocean. When God Almighty has written His name on every ripple of the Universe, what of human beings whose flawed nature leads them towards right and wrong actions? Do even voracious hawk and the dead cat proclaim unity with the deity, he raises the question.
In the end, one can sum up Raza Rabbani’s newly discovered talent in the words of well-known story writer of our age Mazharul Islam who says “His (Raza Rabbani’s) accounts of ordinary people often engaged in a doomed quest for justice, engage us all the more because these folk barely seem to exist for those who profit from their labours. Indeed, the men and women in these tales are the invisible members of our society. The author tells their stories with a wonderful mix of art and mysticism.”