MY FEELINGS,MY EMOTIONS ,MY THOUGHTS AND MY WORDS MAY 2018

OFF AND ON –  MY MAN-ON-THE-SPOT  – MUNAWAR ALI MALIK

Never saw him. Never knew him but by the name. and yet I must write about him. A sort of debt, you know. A debt of gratitude long overdue, alas, because he is no longer there at the receiving end.

Mohammad Idrees was my mentor. It was he who introduced me to The Pakistan Times almost a decade back. Not that he knew who the devil I was. The only communication between us was a letter from me. That letter accompanied a light-vein story by me. Not much of a story, to be honest. Just an amateurish exercise in letters. The letter was not a request to get the thing published. It was a request to read the thing and then let me know what it was worth.

I never got his reply. But he did let me know what he thought of the story. He got it published in the Magazine Section of The Pakistan Times.

“ I never knew you were a writer,” said one of my colleagues.

“Nor did I” was my honest retort.

“you seem to have built up a pretty effective PR with The Pakistan Times,”said another. “will you please tell us who is your man-on-the-spot?”

Don’t know him, but there is one, certainly”, I admitted. “Mohammad Idress is the name. And that is all I know about him.

I intended to make my gratitude known to him through a letter. But I don’t know why I could never write that letter.

And then, months later, I got an occasion to see him at his office. But the occasion was all I got, because he was not there. He was away somewhere, they told me, attending a sort of refresher course “ though he is far ahead of such professional grooming”, said Mohammad Saleem-ur-Rehman with a smile.

About a year later I made my second call. Again to no purpose, for he was not in his office.

“Does he come here only off and on?” I asked one of his colleagues.

“No.sir, your own visits are too  few and far between,” he said.

Yes, I want to blame, I now realize.

His appointment as Chief Editor of The Pakistan Times was, I felt, the happiest development in the changeful affairs of the newspaper.

“Happy news, isn’t it?” I wrote to the magazine editor.

“Yes”,he wrote back, “For the first time in my career feel at home where I am.”

This time I can’t miss him. I surmised, thinking of my next visit to Lahore.A Chief Editor is too busy in his office to go gallivanting about the city.So this time I am sure to find him there.

“well”, said Fate with an ugly lee,”but I know what I know”

And so, one morning, they told me I’ll never see him. It was a shock too strong for words. Inspite of my distaste for Shelly some of the lines in his Adonais seemed very relevant to my sorrow. I wished I could write something of that sort. But I never could.

I know his death should have come as a personal loss to all who knew him intimately—his PT colleagues and Tea House cronies in particular. But was the loss mourned as it ought to have been?

Curt obituaries appearing in newspapers are nothing deeper than a matter of form. The writer community was never so shock-proof as it is these days. Apity, isn’t it? Sahir’s death went unnoticed. Siraj Munir was disposed of with a barely audible groan. The grudging notice Idrees got was hardly commensurate with his merit.

Few people know that a book of Tea House columns by Idrees was published last year by a friend of his. The only notice it was allowed to receive was a restricted opening ceremony in the premises of The Pakistan Times.the book, Night Was not Loveless, was then given such loveless treatment that it was neither offered for review to newspapers nor was it put on the stalls for sale. On that occasion, it was offered to buyers on the spot on payment of Rs.375 per copy.

Mohammad Idrees was never a pennywise man. Had he published the book, It would have been given away to quite a few people who knew him. But his friend who published the book offered it only at full price and only through few conduits. This is like stifling a voice that was ever strong, bantering and rang with laughter. The killing of the book, for a price, was hardly the tribute to a man whose voice rang loud and clear, minced no words, and hid no rancour.

 

 

OFF AND ON  –    MY MAN-ON-THE-SPOT   –   MUNAWAR ALI MALIK

 

Never saw him. Never knew him but by the name. and yet I must write about him. A sort of debt, you know. A debt of gratitude long overdue, alas, because he is no longer there at the receiving end.

Mohammad Idrees was my mentor. It was he who introduced me to The Pakistan Times almost a decade back. Not that he knew who the devil I was. The only communication between us was a letter from me. That letter accompanied a light-vein story by me. Not much of a story, to be honest. Just an amateurish exercise in letters. The letter was not a request to get the thing published. It was a request to read the thing and then let me know what it was worth.

          I never got his reply. But he did let me know what he thought of the story. He got it published in the Magazine Section of The Pakistan Times.

          “ I never knew you were a writer,” said one of my colleagues.

          “Nor did I” was my honest retort.

          “you seem to have built up a pretty effective PR with The Pakistan Times,”said another. “will you please tell us who is your man-on-the-spot?”

          Don’t know him, but there is one, certainly”, I admitted. “Mohammad Idress is the name. And that is all I know about him.

          I intended to make my gratitude known to him through a letter. But I don’t know why I could never write that letter.

          And then, months later, I got an occasion to see him at his office. But the occasion was all I got, because he was not there. He was away somewhere, they told me, attending a sort of refresher course “ though he is far ahead of such professional grooming”, said Mohammad Saleem-ur-Rehman with a smile.

          About a year later I made my second call. Again to no purpose, for he was not in his office.

          “Does he come here only off and on?” I asked one of his colleagues.

          “No.sir, your own visits are too  few and far between,” he said.

          Yes, I want to blame, I now realize.

          His appointment as Chief Editor of The Pakistan Times was, I felt, the happiest development in the changeful affairs of the newspaper.

          “Happy news, isn’t it?” I wrote to the magazine editor.

          “Yes”,he wrote back, “For the first time in my career feel at home where I am.”

          This time I can’t miss him. I surmised, thinking of my next visit to Lahore.A Chief Editor is too busy in his office to go gallivanting about the city.So this time I am sure to find him there.

          “well”, said Fate with an ugly lee,”but I know what I know”

          And so, one morning, they told me I’ll never see him. It was a shock too strong for words. Inspite of my distaste for Shelly some of the lines in his Adonais seemed very relevant to my sorrow. I wished I could write something of that sort. But I never could.

          I know his death should have come as a personal loss to all who knew him intimately—his PT colleagues and Tea House cronies in particular. But was the loss mourned as it ought to have been?

          Curt obituaries appearing in newspapers are nothing deeper than a matter of form. The writer community was never so shock-proof as it is these days. Apity, isn’t it? Sahir’s death went unnoticed. Siraj Munir was disposed of with a barely audible groan. The grudging notice Idrees got was hardly commensurate with his merit.

          Few people know that a book of Tea House columns by Idrees was published last year by a friend of his. The only notice it was allowed to receive was a restricted opening ceremony in the premises of The Pakistan Times.the book, Night Was not Loveless, was then given such loveless treatment that it was neither offered for review to newspapers nor was it put on the stalls for sale. On that occasion, it was offered to buyers on the spot on payment of Rs.375 per copy.

          Mohammad Idrees was never a pennywise man. Had he published the book, It would have been given away to quite a few people who knew him. But his friend who published the book offered it only at full price and only through few conduits. This is like stifling a voice that was ever strong, bantering and rang with laughter. The killing of the book, for a price, was hardly the tribute to a man whose voice rang loud and clear, minced no words, and hid no rancour.

Your words for Mianwali and Mianwalians