English in private schools in India, later at Sher bourne School, Dorset, and finally at Oxford, where he received his initial exposure to Marxist ideology. He received his B.A. (Hons.), then returned to India. He refused to sit for the Indian Civil Service examinations, abandoned Euroopean-style dress in favor of handloom cloth, and set about learning the finer points of Urdu, his first language, in which he was almost illiterate.
Sajjad Zaheer and Ahmed Ali, the two most experienced writers in the group, had been discussing the possibility of bringing out a collection of their short stories. The number on hand was not sufficient, so in order to increase it, the four friends "decided on an evening to write a story each within a day."^ Thus the total number of pieces was augmented to ten, and the book was ready for publication.
Angara consists of five stories by Sajjad Zaheer, two each by Ahmed Ali and Rashid Jahan, and one by Mahmuduzzafar. The first one in the collection, Zaheer*s nTnd nahiN StT ("Sleep Does Not Come "), sets the general tone not only for his other stories, but for those by the other authors as well.- Written in a style which is best characterized as siream-of-consciousness, this piece is an interior monologue of a lower middle-class man who drifts between sleep and sleeplessness at night. The author opens the story with onomatopoeia to depict the sounds of the night and continues to punctuate the narrative with this device throughout the story. The humming of mosquitoes and the call of night bird are thus used to connect the external, real world with the psychic state of the character. As such, this piece is notable as an attempt to apply stream-of-consciousness to Urdu short story writing, though the influence of James Joyce and Virginia Woolf is rather patent. The content of this interior monologue, however, detracts seriously from this form, for Zaheer has his character comment on a wide variety of social customs and mores, especially the Islamic religion, in a particularly denigrating and heavy-handed manner. While intended to be satirical, these remarks are obvious in their intent, lacking in subtlety, and, as such, are rather transparent in their function, which is, quite simply, to shock. Consider, for example, these comments, which are typical of the general tone of this entire collection vis-a-vis Islam:
A prophet found escape through migration. No one knew what the poor prophet did on this occasion. Women had also made his life hell. Then what am I? 0 God, why did You create woman? How can a poor, weak person bear the burden of this trust on his shoulders? And I know what will happen on Judgement Day. These same women will create turmoil there too, will show such coquetry and will wink in such a way that poor Allah Himself will start to scratch His beard.c)
The attribution of such sexuality to God is, of course, blasphemy, however tacitly implied.
Another of Zaheer's stories, jannat kT baSarat ("Vision of Heaven"), is more explicit in its sexual theme.0 It is this