Like other fans of celebrated humour writer Mushtaq Ahmed Yousufi I also enjoyed every page and take delight in each sentence he wrote. He is one of the most famous humorists of our country. Since I have been an avid reader of his books I always wanted to meet him in person. And my friend artist Shahid Rassam makes my desire a reality when he asked me to accompany him on his visit to Mushtaq Ahmed Yousufi's home recently.
On arriving at Yousufi sahib's home we received a warm welcome from him. He is now 94 years old and his health has declined as he has become weak and fragile because of mature years. But mentally he is as fresh as he can be to write his satire laced with an unlaboured and chaste Urdu idioms which is his speciality that distinguishes him from his contemporaries in the field.
While talking to him I find Yousufi sahib extremely modest and sober person. Although he is a humorist who is supposed to be talkative and witty person but during conversation there were moments of humour that make me sometimes smile and at others I laughed. Of all the literary genres humour is the most difficult one as it exposed relatively quickly the evils of society. The humorist had to be very cautious about where the fine line lay between quality humour and indecent joke-making. Like Patras Bukhari, Yousufi sahib is a natural and born humorist, who truly conquered the hearts and minds of the readers.
Yousufi sahib masterfully disguised crude gestures with his choice of literary words such that the meaning stayed intact. When the readers went through his books not only did they smile but their faces also glowed. His books are a recollection of events, encounters and discussions with many different people having totally different personalities and professions. The books offers evergreen linguistic twists with poetry and powerful description along with choice of words as sublime as ever which are the attributes of Yousufi sahib. And of course digression, which has always been his hallmark.
While going through the books one feels the delightful sketches and enjoys his memoirs. He had always been careful about his diction and adds subtle elements of surprise to humour. He is also meticulous about the usage and application of words which gives strength to his writings.
The fans of Mushtaq Ahmed Yousufi have been savouring his four celebrated books for the past several years, enjoying every page and taking delight in each sentence. The iconic nonagenarian humour writer has come up with a fifth book 'Shaam-i-Shaer-i-Yaraan' in 2014 to add to 'Ahd-e-Yousufi' [the Yousufi era], which began in 1961 with his first book being published. This new book saw the light of the day after an interval of 24 years. While his four previous books 'Charagh Talay' (1961), 'Khakam Badahan' (1969), 'Zarguzasht' (1976) and 'Aab-e-Gum' (1990) contained delightful sketches and memoirs, penned in his inimitable style of writing for the interest of readers.
His first two books 'Charagh Talay' (1961) and 'Khakam Badahan' (1969) won Adamjee Prize, while last one 'Aab-e-Gum' (1990) got the Hijra Award as well as Pakistan Academy of Letters Award for the best book, 1990. Mushtaq Ahmad Yousufi is the undisputed champion of Urdu satirical and humour writing. He is one of those lucky literary figures, that have been appreciated, applauded and credited their efforts before they breathed their last. He was awarded Sitara-i-Imtiaz in 1999 and Hilal-i-Imtiaz Award in 2002, the highest literary honours by the Government of Pakistan.
He was born in a learned family of Jaipur, Rajasthan on 4 September, 1923. His father Abdul Karim Khan Yousufi was chairman of the Jaipur Municipality, and later Speaker of the Jaipur Legislative Assembly. Yousufi completed his early education in Rajputana and earned B.A. degree from Agra University while acquired his M.A. Philosophy and LL.B degree from Aligarh University. After partition of India his family migrated to Karachi, Pakistan.
He has served on various key posts in the banking sector but made his name in an entirely different field. He became a humorist writer and highlighted diverse human complexities in a satirical way and earned world wide fame. Hence he has served Urdu literature through his life.
Yousufi sahib has also served as the head of several banks and other national and international governmental and financial institutions. He joined Muslim Commercial Bank in 1950 and became Deputy General Manager MCB than he joined Allied Bank Ltd in 1965 as Managing Director. In 1974 he became President of United Bank Ltd. In 1977 became Chairman of the Pakistan Banking Council. He was also awarded Quaid-i-Azam Memorial Medal for distinguished services in banking.
His contemporaries also admired him and commented on his writings on various occasions. Ibn-i-Insha, who was himself a great Urdu satirist and humorist, wrote about Yousufi sahib:...if ever we could give a name to the literary humour of our time, then the only name that comes to mind is that of Yousufi!
Another scholar, Dr Zaheer Fatehpuri, wrote:
We are living in the 'Yousufi era' of Urdu literary humour As Zamir Badayuni says in his artilcle on Yousufi: Mushtaq Ahmed Yousufi is basically a humorist who plays with the language and paints a picture of man, decentralized and imperfect. He combines all the styles, pre-modern, modern and post-modern. Rasheed Ahmed Siddiqui is pre-modern; Pitras is modern and Yusufi is post-modern.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2017