Remembering Afzal Ahsan Randhawa: A celebrated icon of Punjabi literature

‘Afzal Ahsan Randhawa’s firm commitment to the cause of the countless but speechless multitudes found a frequent yet vocal expression in almost all of his prose and verse publications.’  

 

‘In Afzal Ahsan Randhawa’s scheme of things, literature mirrors the socio-cultural life of those who ‘create’ it. It is a record of human experiences – past, present and future – transmuted into a unified whole by the artist’s imagination.’

 

 Afzal Ahsan Randhawa (1937-2017) was a renowned Urdu and Punjabi writer besides being a veteran lawyer and parliamentarian. His monumental work in Punjabi poetry and fiction has immortalized his name in the annals of literature of the language. His literary activities dated back to the 1950s when he edited his school and later, college magazines.

His firm commitment to the cause of the countless but speechless multitudes found a frequent yet vocal expression in almost all of his prose and verse publications.

In Punjabi, Afzal Ahsan Randhawa contributed four novels, four collections of short stories, six collections of poetry, one collection of TV and radio dramas and translated version of an African novel, one collection of African poetry and a translation of interviews of world leaders. He also wrote a collection of Urdu poetry titled Ek Suraj Mera Bhi.

His literary career began with the publication of Deeva Tey Darya, his first novel which also became the first book by a Pakistani to be published in India. He was awarded the Adamjee Prize for Literature (1961) by the Pakistan Writers’ Guild for his novelette Deeva Tey Darya and for his second Punjabi novel Doaba (1981). Randhawa’s novel Suraj Girhan (1984) is an exchange of letters between two lovers whereafter appeared his fourth novel Pundh (2011).

‘Progressive in his stance, he advocated human values in his short stories which translate the common aspirations of the innocent folks living in their rural havens, far from the madding din of the industrial/commercial habitats where but to breathe is a perennial disgust.’

In 1965, he published a collection of poetry Shisha Ek Tey Lishkarey Do followed by collections of short stories Run, Talwar Tey Ghora (1973), Randhawa DiaN KahaniaN (1988), Munna Koh Lahore (1989) and Elahi Mohr (2013). His other poetry collections include Raat Dey Char Safar (1975); Punjab Di Var (1979), Mitti Di Mahek (1983); Piali Vich Asman (1983) and ChaywaaN Darya (1997).

He also translated Chinua Achebe‘s Things Fall Apart as Tut Bhaj (1986) and Gabriel García Márquez‘s Chronicle of a Death Foretold as PehlaN Dus Ditti Ga’i Maut Da Roznamcha (1993), into Punjabi. His collection of short stories Elahi Mohr Tey DoojiaN KahaniaN was published in 2011.

In Afzal Ahsan Randhawa’s scheme of things, literature mirrors the socio-cultural life of those who ‘create’ it. It is a record of human experiences – past, present and future – transmuted into a unified whole by the artist’s imagination. Pleasure and enlightenment identifiable with sweetness and light are the two prime functions of art. Literary works are not fairyland accounts of utopian adventurers given to self-conceit and euphoria. He viewed the situation from a non-academic angle. He had an empirical approach toward literature that drew him closer to contemporaneity. Progressive in his stance, he advocated human values in his short stories which translate the common aspirations of the innocent folks living in their rural havens, far from the madding din of the industrial/commercial habitats where but to breathe is a perennial disgust.

‘His chequered career as a law officer, legal  practitioner, politician, parliamentarian and man of letters had lent a unique diversity to his vision as a result of which his literary output assumed a cosmopolitan overview which explains for the coveted literary prizes and honours that he had won on various occasions.’

Faiz Ahmad Faiz regarded him as a staunch supporter of the oppressed and a potent rival of the oppressor. That is not to say that Afzal Ahsan Randhawa preached any ideology through his fiction or verse. Even while running through a hectic political career spanning more than two decades, he continued to write novels, short stories, and poetry.

He was an avid reader. In the evenings, long before his health began to decline, he could be seen in a library – reading and brooding over books, in splendid isolation, for long hours. He had toured and seen the world extensively. His chequered career as a law officer, legal  practitioner, politician, parliamentarian and man of letters had lent a unique diversity to his vision as a result of which his literary output assumed a cosmopolitan overview which explains for the coveted literary prizes and honours that he had won on various occasions apart from the Pakistan Writers’ Guild Awards, viz., International Sharomani Sahitkar Award (1986) from Ayyapa, Canada; Masood Khaddarposh Award (1986) for Tut Bhaj and Pakistan Academy of Letters Hijra Award (1985) for Suraj Girhan. He also attended the Afro Asian Writers moot in the then USSR (1973) and was the first General Secretary of the Afro Asian Writers Union of Pakistan.

Afzal Ahsan Randhawa continued his literary voyage undaunted by the ebb and tide of time – acutely conscious of the veracity of the written word and the dignity of the pen: Qalam ko Baich na khanay kay jurm ka mujrim/MaeiN sar utha’ey khara huN keh sang aa’ey bhi.

His personal qualities as a human being – sincerity, humility, self-respect, and empathy – endeared him to all and sundry.



One Comment;

  1. Designer said:

    Hi everyone, we have just launched a new online store. Do visit us at designer92.com
    You will able to find bridal collections and other awesome outfits.

*

*

Top