KARACHI: Saadat Hasan Manto, who was born on 11th May, 1912 (in Ludhiana) and died on 18th Jan. 1955, produced the kind of bold chef-d’œuvres that many believe was meant for the people of next century.
Manto dared to write about the taboos in order to expose the darker side of the society setting the benchmark for progressive writing in Urdu.
His writings plunged him into trouble a number of times. In India and later in Pakistan he was charged with obscenity half a dozen times: “I am no sensationalist. Why would I want to undress a society that is already naked?
“Yes, it is true I make no attempt to cover it but that’s not my job… my job is to write with a white chalk, so that I can draw attention to the darkness of the board.”
Many of his writings focus on the Partition of India (which he incidentally opposed).
Following Partition, Manto opted to live in the Walled City of Lahore and was never well-off. He created masterpieces like Thanda Gosht, Khol Do, Toba Tek Singh, etc.
His piece Toba Tek Singh is a symbolic story of a loony. The scene was set in Lahore asylum from where a number of Hindu patients were to be sent to India in return many Muslims loonies were to be transferred to Pakistan.
Overall he penned 22 collections of short stories, a novel, five series of radio plays, three collections of essays and two collections of personal sketches. In recognition of his works Govt. of Pakistan bestowed upon him Nishan-e-Imtiaz.
Between 1951 and 1952 Manto was twice admitted for treatment to the anti-alcoholic ward of the Punjab Mental Hospital.
Eccentric Manto wrote his own epitaph (that was never used): “Here lies Saadat Hasan Manto and with him are buried all the secrets of the art of story writing. Under mounds of earth, he is still wondering which of the two was a greater storyteller: God or he!”
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