14 June, 2021

Versus Manto

Mohammed Hanif on the much celebrated and much reviled author, who would have been a hundred today

Versus Manto

Congratulations on your 100th anniversary. “What is there to celebrate,” you ask. “I am dead. And why are you, the judges of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, my eternal tormentors, celebrating my birthday?” We need to talk because you might be dead but your books are still published in many different editions, some on very fancy paper. I saw one edition with a price tag of 750 rupees. Now don’t start calculating how many pints of the good stuff you could buy with that kind of money. Not a drop, sir. Or maybe a quarter of that foul stuff that contributed to your demise.

If you were writing today, and specially if you were writing in English, you could go to all the literary festivals and drink all the free booze you wanted. But they probably wouldn’t invite you because before and after drinking their booze you’d rant against the festival organisers, you’d raise questions about the sponsors’ parentage. Just like you maligned us judges. Having made your acquaintance while you were in...

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