CURFEW IN KUFA*
by Linda Wentink
. . . the last hour will not come before . . . the end of a man's whip and the thong of his sandal speak to him. ... , Hadith
. . . "Thrust in your sharp scythe, and harvest the clusters of earth's grapevines, for its grapes are overripe," So the angel swung his scythe on the earth and gathered the fruit of earth's grapevine, and threw it into the great wine press of God's wrath,„ Revelation. 14. 18-19.
. . . and he whispered to me, speak softly, or speak not at all, for the harvest of heads is ripe and there is curfew in Kufa. . . . The grapevines are laden with clusters of grapes and the harvest of heads is ripe, . . the Buddha fell silent. When he was silent for a long time the disciples were worried lest again the time to be silent had come. When the wise become silent and the thongs of shoes speak. This is the time for the thongs of shoes to speak. ^ Bastl. pp. 221-222.
Intizar Husain is a symbolic writer. Always, his symbols have cultural and archetypal validity; overwhelmingly, they are of religious significance. The religious and cultural ideal he has continually sought in his fiction is that of harmony:
harmony between man and man, and harmony between man and nature. This state of harmony and community is symbolized by the small town or pre-industrial city he described so often in his fiction written during the fifties. Significantly, this world of myth and wonder exists only in memory, and is seen solely through the eyes of childhood. While he seeks in memory the community of the village, he finds in reality the anomie of the modern city torn by war and civil strife.
Each of the major historical events which has had an impact on the writing of Intizar Husain has been symbolized,by the fall of a city. In his first novel, Cand Gahan (1953), the devastation of Partition is symbolized in the fall of Delhi, which is compared with the Delhi of 1857. His first
*Intizar Husain. Bastl. Lahore: Kitab Ghar, 1980*