Gen Zia’s era taught writers to stand up for truth, says Sindhi writer Noor ul Huda Shah

“Though many people believe the tenure of military dictator Ziaul Haq was the darkest period of literature and literary work in Pakistan, I think it was an era which taught writers to take a stand for the truth and not to be afraid of difficulties and jails,” said eminent Sindhi writer Noorul Huda Shah on Wednesday.

Ms Shah was speaking at the Pakistan Academy of Letters (PAL) during an event titled ‘Meet a writer over a cup of tea’.

She said writers of the past did not stop writing the truth even when they were flogged or put in jails.

“The writers of today are not familiar with these difficulties and are scared if they are told they will be sent to jail. Writers need to transform themselves according to the story and have to feel like a murderer, a feudal lord, victim and other characters which the writers of today are not doing. Maybe that is the reason books written now do not leave an impact on readers,” she said.

Ms Shah said she had started writing novels after Abdul Kareem Baloch asked her to write a drama for him.

“I said I don’t know how to write a drama. Mr Baloch sent me a script and I said I got a headache reading it. He then sent me an essay by Sindhi drama writer Mumtaz Mirza which was about dramas. After reading the essay, I wrote two dramas,” she said.

The dramatist said she had met a woman in Karachi who said her family was against the marrying off of daughters and that her daughter was allowed to marry after her son watched Ms Shah’s drama titled Jungle.

Speaking about her latest short story, Doors of Paradise, she said the story is about a conversation between a suicide bomber and his mother. After he detonates a bomb and gets to the door of paradise, the bomber is convinced he has done a good deed and will be rewarded. However, his mother says she gave birth to a human and cannot imagine how he turned into a terrorist.

The bomber was in the end asked to go away from paradise along with all his body parts.

PAL Chairman Prof Dr Mohammad Qasim Bughio said Ms Shah has always highlighted social problems and written splendid and unique TV dramas. He said a number of her dramas including Tapish and Ajayab Ghar were considered master pieces in their time and that her collection of short stories are also of great significance.

Originally published in Dawn, July 20th, 2017

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