I was not able to attend the launch of the latest book by Rehan Alavi Saheb: Ek Ghazal Ek Kahani due to health reasons. But my son Zia Ahmad was kind enough to pass a signed copy of the book the same afternoon after its launch on Sunday 22 October.
I read the whole book from cover in one sitting the same day, as is my habit whenever I get a new book and indeed found it extraordinary.
Contradicting its title “One Poem One Story, the book as a matter of facts is a collection of 20 poems and 20 short stories.
Rehan Alavi has been producing very unique pieces of literary works using his twin linguistic (Urdu and English), cultural (Eastern and Western) and residential (Pakistan and Australia) identities.
His previous work “Beyond the dreams” was originally written both in Urdu as well as in English by the author himself.
Again, this new work Ek Ghazal Ek Kahani is unique in many ways. It is a balanced combination of prose and poetry, that to my knowledge is first in the Urdu language. The stories are set in both Pakistani as well as in Australian settings just like his previous work.
This type of literature is available in other languages like English, French, German, Arabic, Sanskrit and Persian but not of good standard in Urdu.
This work to some extent can be compared to that of Shakespeare, Buddha, Milton, Saadi, Alexander Selkirk and Wordsworth.
Living in Australia where time is a precious commodity, in addition to earn a living and raise your family, to create high-quality literary work in a language other than English is indeed a great achievement.
On top of that Rehan is professionally an IT person with full-time job as well as a producer of SBS Urdu service that I understand consumes a lot of his time. Under these circumstances, to be creative in both prose and poetry in the Urdu language is indeed beyond belief.
His great literary accomplishments simply prove his love for the Urdu language, his devotion to his cultural background and his service to our multicultural Australian society.