Urdu literature has suffered a setback with the recent death of Prof. Baig Ehsas, one of the leading short story writers of Hyderabad. A fortnight ago another noted writer and professor, Fatima Begum Parveen, breathed her last. Both were writers of no mean repute and dominated the Urdu literary scene for decades.

Prof Ehsas, who headed the Urdu department at the University of Hyderabad, was a Sahitya Academy awardee for his short stories collection - Dakhma. He was the third Urdu writer from Hyderabad to get this prestigious award. The other two being: Revolutionary poet, Makhdoom Mohinuddin, and novelist, Jeelani Banu.

The 73-year old writer was ailing for quite some time and died at the Asian Institute of Gastroenterology plunging the Urdu literary circles into the gloom. Both products of the Osmania University, Dr. Fatima Parveen, and Prof Ehsas contributed a lot to the promotion of the Urdu language and have left behind a rich legacy of literature.

An unusual writer, Prof Ehsas took to the medium of the short story to portray life around him. For him literature was a means of arousing public consciousness about ills of society. The narrative in his short stories is realistic and serious as he doesn't believe in aimless romanticism. He employs different techniques of narration to make his characters memorable. His three collection of short stories - Khusha-e-Gandum, Hanzal, and Dakhma stand out for the depth of observation and diversity of experiences. He also published a collection of literary essays titled Shor-e-Jahan. Prof. Ehsas bagged the Sahitya Academy award in 2017 for Dakhma, meaning tower of silence.

In his award-winning book, Prof. Ehsas focuses on the problems of middle-class Muslims caught in the dilemma of conservatism and modernity. He uses allegorical and symbolic techniques to delineate the persona and social problems of the community, particularly in and around Hyderabad. Stories like Sange Giran, Chakr Dev, Dard ke Khime, Dakhma and Rang ka Saya are poignant and provide an insight into human nature.

Noted Urdu humorist, Mujtaba Husain, ranked Prof. Ehsas among five great short story writers of the present times. A distinguishing feature of his short stories is their exclusivity and unique treatment of the subject.

During the lockdown period when all activity came to a standstill on account of the pandemic, Prof Ehsas kept the Urdu literary scene alive by organizing a weekly online program- Bazgasht. In this program works of well-known writers and poets are read out followed by a detailed analysis and discussion. The program continues and thanks to Prof. Ehsas Urdu lovers stay connected digitally.

J.S. Ifthekhar

J.S. Ifthekhar is a senior journalist with nearly four decades of experience. Ifthekhar cut his teeth in journalism at the Indian Express before he moved to The Hindu. He was also associated with the Siasat Daily, Telangana Today, Deccan Chronicle, Onlooker magazine, Newstrack, Detective Digest and a few news agencies. He has written on different subjects and aspects of Hyderabadi life. However, his passion remains literature in general and Urdu poetry in particular. He is equally concerned with culture, heritage, civic affairs and problems confronting the man in the street. As a journalist he has taken up cudgels on behalf of the underprivileged and many of his stories in The Hindu saw the government promptly taking corrective measures. Ifthekhar has authored two books - Hyderabad - The Nawabi City on The Move and Haj - The Spirit Behind it. He has also translated two books from Urdu to English. Currently he is working on his third book - Poets and Writers of Deccan. Loves to write and writes to live. Can't imagine doing anything else.

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