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In Mujtaba Hussain, Urdu world loses a luminary

Rasia Nayeem Hashmi

Hyderabad: Celebrated Urdu author, humorist and satirist Mujtaba Hussain passed away on Wednesday morning following prolonged illness.

He was 84-years-old. He breathed his last at his son’s residence in Sun City, on the outskirts of Hyderabad. The humour writer was suffering from issues related with old age for some time.  He had stopped moving out of home completely about three months ago.

A writer par excellence, he was known for creating ripples of laughter across the Urdu world with his writings.

Family

He was born to Maulvi Ahmed Hussain. He had two elder brothers. Mahboob Hussain Jigar, was the founder joint editor of Siasat Urdu daily. The other brother Ibrahim Jalees was a distinguished journalist and writer who migrated to Pakistan soon after Partition of India.

Early life

Mujtaba Hussain was born in Chincholi village near Gulbarga, which is known these days as Kalaburagi, on 15th of July 1936. After completing his elementary education in Gulbarga he moved to Hyderabad e and joined Osmania University’s Arts College in 1953. He had penchant for writing since his college days. He took part in many essay writing competitions and theater presentations.

Beginning of career

Mujtaba Hussain had said in an interview that Siasat played a significant role in his life. He used to contribute regularly to Siasat Urdu daily and officially joined it 1958 as sub-editor.

In his own words, “It was not me who chose humour and satire but it was humour which chose me. I still remember the day of 12th August 1962. Shahid Siddiqui (a well know journalist and poet) used to write a regular column for Siasat. It was known as Sheesha wa Teesha. Shahid Siddiqui passed away in Julym 1962. On August 12 as soon I reached Siasat office my elder brother Jigar Saheb and Abid Ali Khan saheb (the Editor and owner of the newspaper) called me in and proposed that I should start writing Sheesha wa Teesha column. In the morning at 10:30, I started writing my column and finished it before 2 pm. I wrote with my pen name ‘Koh Paima’; after a week people began asking who was writing the column. It has freshness, thrill, and  was entertaining, they said. I was encouraged by the praise. Thus began writing regularly. The thing which began incidentally became the destination of my life and also the purpose of life. The only identity of my literary journey of 50 years is humour writing.”

At the proposal made by Mr Zaheeruddin Ali Khan, Managing Editor of Siasat, he began writing a regular weekly humour column with the title ‘Mera Column’ (My Column). The column began receiving huge applause by the readers.

Achievements

Soon Mujtaba Hussain’s name and fame crossed geographical boundaries and he attained global acclamation. He was often described as the Mark Twain of Urdu. In 2007, the government of India presented him Padma Shree award in recognition of his contributions to Urdu literature. He bagged numerous other awards.

Publications

Mujtaba Hussain authored nearly two dozen books including ‘Takalluf bar Taraf’, Qata-e-Kalam, Qissa-e-Mukhtasar, Baherhal, Admi-nama and Japan Chalo Japan. University Grants Commission (UGC) has included the Urdu book “Safarnama Japan Chalo” written by him in the syllabus of National Eligibility Test (NET) which is conducted for the recruitment of lecturers in Urdu. At least 12 PhDs were done on him by different scholars from across India. His works were translated into Oriya, Kannada, Hindi, English, Russian and Japanese languages.

Returning Padma Shree award

In protest against the “atmosphere of fear and hatred” created in the country by those in power, Mujtaba Hussain decided to return Padma Shree award, in December last year. Hussain had said that he was pained over the situation in the country with those in power targeting minorities, especially the Muslims. He was concerned over the hatred and fear created among the community through the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC). He said he was feeling suffocated and his conscience was pricking him. So he decided to return the award.


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