HAFEEZ JULLUNDRI AND M.A. RAHMAN CHUGHTAI
POET AND ARTIST IN PERFECT HARMONY
A tale not told before anywhere
M.A. Rahman Chughtai was a born Lahori and lived in this atmosphere all the time. But there were others who came from other places. One such name was that of the poet and writer Hafeez who came from Jullundur to Lahore a long time back. A literary group was already here and known as the Niazmandan Lahore, and were reluctant to allow entry to someone from other places. It was M.A. Rahman Chughtai who welcomed this young man into this literary group. A beautiful letter tells us all this in the words of Hafeez Jullundri himself:
“Please believe me when I say that out of all persons alive, your existence is one of which is the greatest source of pride for me, right from the start of my creativity to this day. You were the first to eulogize me, when I came to Lahore, by not only looking at me with favourable perceptive eyes but also concrete help as well as boosting of my morale. A writer can perhaps forget everyone, but never the first source of his encouragement and as far as Abdur Rahman Chughtai is concerned, a pulsating personality of the world, whose influence is spread all over, what can one say more, except that I long to see you soon.
( Translated from letter dated 1959).
A beautiful friendship emerged between the poet and the artist. When Hafeez Jullundri took out a magazine from Lahore, it was encouraged by Chughtai and we find the title as well as contribution of a painting for publication in it. The relation went deeper. When Hafeez Jullundri started his epoch making Shahnama Islam, he completed the first volume in Lahore, and it was read by Mian Nuruddin (known as Nur), a famous voice of Lahore, in the house of M.A. Rahman Chughtai, and there were at least 100 people who attended this reading, including Hafeez Jullundri himself. The wife of M.A Rahman Chughtai recalled how difficult it was for her to cook to entertain so many people at the same time.
The relation between the two touched at many points, including the design of the Pakistani flag, when catering to the idea of a SITARA HILAL, the artist penned down designs for the Pakistani flag for the Quaid e Azam with a rising Crescent in it. A number of people had actually sabotaged the design by having it tailored as a descending Crescent. The tailor Master was a Christian by faith and had no concept of rising and descending crescent and cultural saboteurs were at work to get it done wrongly by him.
The Poet and artist were in touch all the time. He would call at our house all the time. I remember one day I came from school and he was there seated in our drawing room with my father, and I saw an English woman with him. It was one of his wife and that wife held him in great love and reverence.
The poet Hafeez Jullundri was there first on the death of the artist on 17th January, 1975, and went with the funeral to the graveyard and he is seen standing in the front row of the funeral prayers in most pictures of same. On 17th January, 1976, he was there at the first death anniversary of the artist, and recited the national anthem there, while he cursed those in power, who were trying to even undo the National Anthem of Pakistan. Amongst tears Hafeez Jullundri cried and made many in the audience cry too. There he read his last QASIDA on Chughtai artist, entitled ‘CHUGHTAI, ABDUR RAHMAN’. He would pat me on the cheeks all the time and was very proud of me. We maintained a relation till his very end, and he introduced me to his wife and daughter. The daughter was reading the News on Pakistan Television. The family is still in touch with us.