Lahore has a legacy of centuries-old traditions. A hub of art and culture, it has provided a conducive atmosphere for nourishment of writers, artists, intellectuals and poets. There is something mesmerising about this city.
Lahore Walay is a tribute to Lahore as to well as those who made this city their home. after destination. It is a voluminous collection of pen sketches of around 100 prominent writers, who lived in this historic city, and contributed to its magnificence and splendour. Among the personalities included in the volume are Allama Iqbal, Maulana Maududi, Chiragh Hasan Hasrat, Manto, Bedi, Zaheer Kashmiri, Meera Ji, N. M. Rashed, Noor Ahmad Chishti, Munir Niazi, K.K. Aziz, Maulana Ghulam Rasool Mahr, Kanhaiya Lal Kapoor, Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Abdullah Hussein, Intizar Husain, Dr Muhammad Ajmal, Habib Jalib, Hakim Ahmad Shuja, Ahmad Bashir, Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi, Ahmad Rahi, A. Hameed, Ustad Daman, among many others. All of these celebrities belong to different genres of literature. There are other renowned people who don’t belong to the realm of literature or arts but they did once live in Lahore.
A pukka (diehard) Lahori, Muhammad Asim Butt collected articles and essays from many different books and memoirs to put together in this hefty book, titled Lahore Walay. Urdu fiction is Butt’s main forte who has several books to his credit. He has written a number of short stories along with three novels; something that has earned him many plaudits due to his mature craft. He has translated many English books into Urdu and vice versa, and hence makes his mark as an outstanding translator.
In the preface, he converses with the city of Lahore and expresses his concerns over the deterioration of its beauty, mainly caused by anti-cultural and anti-environmental policies of the previous governments.
The book also contains personal accounts of major stalwarts who share their life and times spent in Lahore. It’s good to see writers like Manto, Chiragh Hasan Hasrat, Khadija Mastoor, Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi, Shahid Ahmad Dehlavi, M. Khalid Akhtar, Mustansar Hussain Tarar, Muzaffar Ali Syed, Shamim Hanfi, Dr Khurshid Rizvi, Qazi Javed, Irfan Javed, in the list of contributors. Abdul Majeed Salik and Chiragh Hasan Hasrat have paid glowing tributes to Allama Iqbal in their respective essays while Manto has written a sharp piece on the communist ideologue and his mentor, Bari Aleeg who was the doyen of the Arab Hotel off Railway Road Lahore. Muhammad Khalid Akhtar, a humorist par excellence, remembers how Ahmad Shah turned into Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi and what went into the making of Funoon, an Urdu magazine, which helped inspire many a budding poet and fiction writer.
Butt’s selection of essays is unique; where Mustansar Hussain Tarar has remembered the indomitable Intizar Husain, Shahid Ahmad Dehlavi has written on the enigmatic Meera Ji, Muzaffar Ali Syed has praised N.M. Rashed, Soofi Tabbasum and Chiragh Hasan Hasrat.
The compiler got inspired by Dr Salahuddin who compiled a four-volume magnum opus on Delhi, titled Dilli Walay. These four volumes present a fascinating era of Delhi by focusing on its leading figures in art and culture.
Two more hefty volumes on Lahore will hit the bookshelves in the days to come. But the compiler needs to remove a few glitches in the next volumes. First of all, he should have given full reference of books or magazines from where he took articles and essays for his compilation. Secondly, a few great sons of Lahore like Pran Neville, Som Anand, among others have been left out. These names should have been present in the first volume.
Lahore Walay Author: Muhammad Asim Butt
Publisher: Alhamd Publications, Chowk Purani Anarkali Lahore
Price: Rs 1,000