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Biography of an outstanding personality

 Anwar Nasim – a versatile human
Compiled by Muhammad Ajmal Khan, Abid Azhar, Zabita Khan Shinwari and Ikramul Haq
National Printco, Karachi; Pp 256


The compilers of the book Anwar Naseem – a versatile human contend that they felt that Anwar Naseem was a source of vision, wisdom, perseverance, knowledge and strength. At the age of 75, he is still emotionally balanced mentally alert person. Knowing him personally for the last three decades, this reviewer finds him and a man of science, society and culture. All friends who have written their impressions in the book unanimously agree to these three dimensions of his personality. Dr M Ashraf, Dean of Agriculture, Faisalabad, Pakistan terms him (when Dr Naseem was adviser science COMSTECH) as an outstanding personality, carving out the biotechnology and molecular genetics frontiers in Pakistan. Professor NM Butt, professor and chairman, Preston Institute of Nano Science and Technology knows Dr Naseem since 1959 while both were in Government College, Lahore. He found Naseem as fiction writer and then as a person pursuant to social welfare at heart. As fans of Faiz Ahmad Faiz, he remembers their visit to Faiz’s village Kala Qadir by walking for 2 ½ hours in narrow lanes just to meet his relatives ( Naseem was 70 at that time); Naseem’s memory of meeting Faiz many years ago, being still fresh in his mind.
Love and respect for literary people was witnessed by this reviewer when we pooled in money for travel of poet Amjad Islam Amjad in early 1990s to Saudi Arabia, both of us being in Riyadh at that time. Then we discovered that the brother of Ibn-e-Insha was working for bank Al-Jazira in Riyadh. Dr Naseem hosted a huge dinner in his honour and invited many literature lovers from all over the Kingdom. We were totally disappointed when we found that Ibn-e-Insha’s knew nothing about his brother’s literary achievements. Only recently Dr Naseem arranged a lavish lunch for the visiting poet Gulzar at Dina, district Jhelum (Gulzar was born in a Kalra Arora Sikh family, to Makhan Singh Kalra and Sujan Kaur). Again poet Naseer Ahmad Nasir and Dr Naseem were disappointed when that Gulzar was taken away by probably the embassy people, without allowing him taking the lunch.
The book under review comprises two portions, one in Urdu and the other in English with some memorable photographs of Naseem meeting important persons all over the globe. This sandwiched portion is called ‘memories’. Professor Ijaz Baig, Professor Urdu, Riyadh remembers Mir Taqi Mir’s line ‘Roz Milne Pei Nahi Nisbat-e-Ishq Moqoof’ (love is not limited to meeting daily) when he came across Naseem first. He witnessed in him a beating heart, a page of a story, a branch of tree full of flowers and ‘morning in Awadh and evening in Banaras’, along with the laboratory equipment he spent time with. Ashfaq Hussain from Ottawa still remembers the poetry session organized by Anwar in Ottawa, a city remembered for tulips.
In an interview with Dr Naseem by Raziuddin Khan and Meher Afshan Usmani, he elaborates at least one good reason why the creation of Pakistan was needed. Just before the creation of Pakistan, Naseem’s father was transferred to Sarhali, near Amritsar. It was a stronghold of Sikhs who studied in Gurumukhi whereas Muslims were akin to Urdu. It was for the first time Anwar felt that if India was ruled by Hindus, they would hinder any work Muslims desired to do. In those days Boundary Commission was much talked about forum and there were discussions whether Gurdaspur would be part of India or Pakistan. Foreseeing riots, Anwar’s family moved to their parental village in Jhelum. Regarding the relation between teacher and student, Anwar elaborated that in his student days the teacher knew every student at personal level. The gap in the minds of the two that exists now did not exist then.
Dr Anwaar Ahmad, writer cum critic, Osaka, Japan discusses short stories written by Dr Anwar Naseem. He quotes Rasheed Amjad saying that Naseem’s interest in science has intrigued his mind to protrude deep into any issue he desires to research on. That is why his stories open up many layers and take the reader along with him to their logical end. The second element is being realistic and going deep into things that apparently are hidden otherwise. So he has the ability to open up psyche of characters of his stories and still manage to analyze the social groupings in the socio-political scenario. The short story titled Reh-e-Khazan Main Talash-e-Bahar (looking for spring in autumn) is an effective short story that attempts to press on the personality of its main character Sajida from social and psychological points of view. This short story is full of creative sentences. He says “Jab Abida class mein angraai laity hai tau Dr Sahib bechare behadd nervous ho jaate hain, saari demonstration bhool jaate hain. Mira Bai ke bhajano, Kabir ke dohon, Mir ke sheron ki yei diwani yei larki is hujoom sei yaqeenan buhut mukhtalif thi’ (whenever Abida yawned in the class with her hands in the air, poor doctor forgot the demonstration. She was a different specie being fond of Mira’s religious hymns, Kabir’s couplets and Mir’s poetry). The climax is bitter as she marries a furniture fellow quietly when she went to look for furniture for staging Krishen Chander’s drama ‘Sarae Kei Bahar’ (outside the inn).
Dr Naseem is lucky in this sense that many people of letters have expresses their appreciation of all the traits of his character when he is still alive. Normally it is done when one is no more!

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