Roundabout | Of a writer writer and the flight of doves

To get to know the Urdu writer Joginder Paul (1925 -2016), who is best described as a writer, it is important to get acquainted with Fazaldeen and Lobh Singh, who were once close friends and colleagues at Chawinda Primary School in the Punjab province of Pakistan. .

Fazaldeen taught English and Lobh Urdu. In 1947, Lobha moved to Delhi and became a taxi driver. Constantly running errands for his family of four and trying to make ends meet, he would often say, “Once you leave your house, it seems like even sitting down, we’re running all the time.”

After a few years, he received a letter from a certain Maulvi Fazaldeen, the principal of Chawinda Primary School. Holding the letter, he feels he is hugging his lost friend and he cries out; “Fazalee! You villain! You’ve become such a respected Maulvi, and I didn’t even know it, miserable Headmaster! And then the waters of the five rivers of Punjab flowed from his eyes and flowed down his face and beard. The letters to Chawinda continue as he goes through life’s ups and downs.

Lobh continues to write to his dear friend as he goes through tragedies, including the death of his wife and youngest son. It is only at the end that the reader realizes, like Lobh’s eldest son, that the chacha to whom he is writing in Chawinda is long dead. The flight of the doves was such that, torn from their land, they roamed it in imagination.

When Lobh receives a letter from his friend saying that his sons and daughters had given him 15 grandsons and five granddaughters, he is thrilled that his friend, who is now a headmaster lion, has multiplied 20.

“Overcome by love and desire, Lobh Singh parked his taxi outside Fazaldeen’s house and honked loudly, he gathered the 20 grandchildren in the car and drove them to Delhi – Look, this is the Qutab Minar, and that’s the governor’s office and that’s the Laal Qila. Yes my friend, give each of them a kulfi. Eat my little ones, the Delhi kulfi has the power to clear your throat. Now Shibo, where are you going? Come here and we will all walk to Chandni Chowk. Just watch out for the traffic. Take care and come. »

Writers in context

Such was the craft of Paul who set his stories not only around the great division but his years in Kenya and Delhi that he chose the most human subjects leaving the reader spellbound by the varied drama of existence human.

Paul is one of the writers included in the “Writer in Context” series, published by Routledge, which has been conceptualized to facilitate a comprehensive understanding of Indian writers from different languages.

Chandana Dutta, who edited the book, says, “It is in light of the fact that Indian literature in English translation is read and even taught intensively across the world with more and more scholars engaged in In each volume of the series, an author of post-independence multilingual Indian literature is presented in his socio-literary tradition.

Each book has been designed to present the writer’s work as well as its cultural context, literary tradition, critical reception and contemporary resonance.

Sukrita Paul, who conceptualized the series, says, “The series, it is hoped, will serve as an important creative and critical resource to fill a glaring gap in knowledge regarding the context of Indian writing across different languages.

The editors state, “The conceptualization and production of the ‘Writer in Context’ series is set against the backdrop of a historical development of English-language literary studies in India. It was not until the mid-1980s, decades after India’s independence, that the angst over redefining English literary studies in universities manifested itself in thoughtful discussions among scholars.

No fewer than 12 writers from the 20th century, who have distinguished themselves through their writings, feature in the series.

While books on Hindi writer Krishna Sobti and Paul have already been released, others in the pipeline include well-known names such as Amrita Pritam (Punjabi) Indira Goswamy (Assamese), Mahasweta Devi (Bengali) Phanishwar Prasad’ Renu ‘ (Hindi) and others.

Meet Joginder Paul

The first encounter with Joginder Paul dates back to the late 1970s during a symposium at Panjab University, Chandigarh, on short stories in Urdu. It was Kumar Vikal, the city’s Hindi poet, who offered to interview him. I did it timidly without really knowing. A decade and a half later, when I started to take translation seriously while working with Antara Dev Sen of The Little Magazine, I burst into his Alaknanda residence in Delhi, to be warmly welcomed by his wife Krishna Paul. I wanted a story from the writer. Without questioning my credentials, he gave me one of his “Dera Baba Nanak” score stories.

Our acquaintance grew and we learned the fascinating story of the score that brought them together. He came from a family of refugees from the Sialkot camp in Ambala, his future wife Krishna belonged to a Punjabi family settled in Kenya. Her parents had brought her to India to find her a partner, and someone suggested this bright young man from Ambala. When she met him in the dilapidated property of the evacuees, the bright boy was selling milk to support the family. Something clicked and they got married. Krishna was to be the first reader of his stories and novels and also his Hindi translator.

After years in Kenya, the two returned to India and settled in New Delhi. His two most recommended novels for taking advantage of his craftsmanship while tackling topics of human bondage are Nadeed (The Blind) and Khwabrau (The Sleepwalkers).

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