Annual of Urdu Studies, v. 7, 1990 p. 49.


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REALITY - FICTIONAL AND SPIRITUAL

The latest phase of Urdu fiction can be denominated as spiritualistic, although many writers would resent being classified in that category.

This happened some time back in the case of Qurratui Ain Haider when she was on her most recent visit to Pakistan. She expressed her resentment at being described as mystically inclined. She said in an interview that she was never "too mystically inclined." This may be interpreted as meaning that she is "somewhat" mystically inclined, though not "too much." And this is proved by her further remarks in the interview. (Dawn July 15, 88).

She insists that "I look at things through my intellect, my mind, but not spiritually." But as regards the character of the Peer in her new novel, "Gardish-i-Rang-i-Chaman", she puts forward the excuse that he is a real person: "And I tell you he is a fascinating character. He is definitely highly spiritual. You can't after all say that there is nothing beyond matter."

Qurratui Ain Haider perhaps seems to be saying that there is a world of matter and there is also a world of the spirit, and we cannot but recognise both even though merely through our intellect. This deistic position was assumed by many Victorian intellectuals who were scientifically inclined and at the same time would not like to be regarded as out and out materialists. Some of them continued to maintain this half way house position, but a great many went steaming ahead to full fledged spiritualism, and ended up in theosophy and table thumping.

Generally speaking the spiritualistically inclined among our fiction writers have not been able to present an integrated image of their world; the materialistic part of it remains somewhat disjointed from the spiritual level. One moment you find them writing, lost in the style of the socialist realist school, and the very next moment you have them describe their spiritual character perform the miracle of appearing simultaneously in two or three cities, or healing the lepers, or bringing the dead to life.

But there is another level of spiritualistic writing which has made its appearance more recently. It is more integrated, and may be described rather as metaphysical. Here the writer seems to have brought together his experience of contemporary social existence, of historical developments in a particular region, of political conflict in a country, and at the same time of the objective and subjective, intellectual and emotional, rational and psychic levels of the beings of his characters. And none of the aspects of this kind of fiction is found to be at cross purposes with the other. They all appear integral to one another and organically related to a single centre of consciousness. An example of such a piece of fiction is the novel "Inkhila7"

Annual Of Urdu Studies, #7

49


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