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From 1932 to 2008
By Shafqat Tanvir Mirza Friday, 24 Oct, 2008 | 08:45 AM PST |
Javaid Shaheen, who passed away on Thursday, was a major Urdu poet of his generation. He was not afraid to experiment and his work - his poetry as also his frank autobiography - generated heated debates.
Shaheen was born in Amritsar on October 27, 1932. His family migrated to Pakistan in 1947 and he got admission to a high school in Sambrial where his father was posted as a sub-inspector of police. It was Sambrial where he learned to compose verses. But he took poetry more seriously after the family settled in Nandipur near Gujranwala.
Javaid Shaheen enrolled in the Gujranwala College but shifted to the Government College, Lahore, where Muzaffar Ali Syed, Ghalib Ahmed, Hanif Ramay, Shehzad Ahmad and Akhtar Ahsan were involved in literary activities at the time. It was the period when the Progressive Writers Association was in full cry. A young Shaheen was much under the influence of the progressives and mostly wrote nazms. Ghazal got his favour much later.
During his college days, he wanted to be a film hero. Accompanied by the drama writer and actor, Kamal Ahmed Rizvi, he went to try his luck in the Bombay filmdom. The journey failed to bring him the desired results and he was back in Lahore translating books for Maktaba-i-Jadeed. Much later, in
the mid-1960s, he translated Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s speeches into Urdu. He also translated the autobiography of Trotsky.
Also in the 1960s, Shaheen joined the Basic Democracy Department and brought out a magazine entitled ‘Nizam-i-Nau’ with which Mir Naseem Mahmood and Kishwar Naheed were also associated.
Meanwhile, he continued to write poetry, contributing to top literary magazines of Pakistan and India. He was an active member of the Halqa Arbab-i-Zauq and a regular visitor to the now defunct Pak Tea House in Lahore. By 1965 he had three collections of poetry to his credit: ‘Zakhm-i-Musalsal ki Hari Shaakh’, ‘Suboh Sey Mulaqaat’ and ‘Mehrab mein Ankhain’.
Shaheen wrote more prolifically after retiring from service as secretary Lahore Municipal Corporation. He produced not only poetry but also prose. His autobiography was a daring attempt by a writer to project himself and those close to him. It was a much liked and much hated book which was widely read and there was even talk that someone wanted to translate it into English.
Javaid Shaheen contributed many collections of Urdu poetry which were all included in his collection, ‘Natamaam’. He also wrote a novel, ‘Aik Diwar ki Doori’, published in the year 2000. He was a pioneer of prose-poetry which again generated a heated debate in the literary circles of Pakistan and India.