Fareeha Bukhari

It is not necessary that every individual could become famous by virtue of his profession. Instead, there are so many examples that a thorough professional soul could not get fame after retirement but emerged as legendary because of his extra-curricular activities. In this regard, the glaring example can be quoted of Mushtaq Ahmad Yousufi, who by profession is top banker but became popular in Pakistan because of his humanity and humourist. The nicety of his satire laced with an unlaboured and pure Urdu idiom is his specialty that distinguished him from others in the specific field of Urdu literature.

As being a humourist, a general perception about Mushtaq Ahamad Younusi is that he must be very talkative and witty but in reality, he is very serious, responsible and sober person. When he used to start his talk, there were a number of moments where his humour did its usual cut and the audiences are split into smiles and laughter as he knows well how to make proper use of Urdu words at a given time. For example, whenever his humour get closer to crossing the thin line of vulgarity, he masterfully disguised it with his choice of literary words in such a way that the meaning stayed intact but created huge giggles amongst his listeners.

Most of the writers of our age also praised him on using his proper Urdu idioms and words. For example Ibn-i-Insha, who was himself a great Urdu satirist and humourist, wrote about Mushtaq Yousufi that “if ever we could give a name to the literary humour of our time, then the only name that comes to my mind is that of Yousufi”. Another great scholar Dr Zaheer Fatehpuri is of the view that ‘we are living in ‘Yousufi era’ of Urdu literary humour.’

There is no doubt that Mushtaq Yusufi is by nature a humourist and not a banker who plays with the language and paints a picture of man. He keeps all the styles including pre-modern, modern and post-modern. It is said that writer Rasheed Ahmed Siddiqui is called pre-modern; Pitras is being considered as modern and Yusufi is post-modern. Rasheed Ahmed Siddiqui generally writes on cultural trends and style of living such as Tanga and Charpai. The language used by him is narrative and he paints the picture of our society in a very realistic way and without exaggeration.

It would be not out of place to mention here that modern humour writing begins with Pitrus Bokhari. He wrote light essays and used elevated modernised language. He is a modern humour writer influenced by Western literature and not deeply rooted in our culture. His light essays such as Bicycle, Lahore ka Geographia and other essays present his individualised style different from other humourists.

There is no doubt that Mushtaq Ahmed Yusufi is a humourist with unified sensibility. He combines pre-modern, modern and post-modern sensibility in such a way that no other writer can paint the picture of man and society as he has painted it. His objects of humour are man, society and nature.

Born in Rajhastan India in 1923, he joined Muslim Commercial Bank in 1950, he then joined Allied Bank Ltd in 1965 as Managing Director and in 1974 he became President of United Bank Ltd. In 1977 he became Chairman of the Pakistan Banking Council. Recognising his distinguished banking services, he has been awarded with Quaid-i-Azam Memorial Medal. He was also awarded Sitara-i-Imtiaz by Government of Pakistan.

Though he is considered to be a top humourist, he just wrote four books: (1) Charagh talay (1961), (2) Khakam ba dahn (1969), (3) Zarguzasht (1976) and (4) Aab-i-gum (1990).

His first book Charagh Talay is so famous and popular that so far more than 11 editions of the book have been published. It has a foreword titled ‘pehla pathhar’ written by the author himself plus 12 satirical and humourous articles while his second book Khakim ba-dahn have. 14 editions published. This book has eight articles in addition to a foreword written by the author.

His third book Zarguzasht has 11 articles in addition to the foreword titled, ‘Tuzk-i-Yousufi’ whereas his fourth book, Aab-i-gum is dedicated to his children, Arshad, Sarosh, Rukhsana and Seema. It contains five articles in addition to the foreword.

There is no doubt that he is an amazing writer who forced his readers to laugh loudly. We are lucky indeed to be living in the Yousufi era!

(The writer is Head of Urdu Department, Punjab Colleges, Lahore)