Saadat Hasan Manto (1912-1955) was a short-story writer, a dramatist and also a translator from Punjab. Today the people of the sub-continent are celebrating his 100th birth anniversary highlighting his significance in the India-Pakistan partition era. Art councils in Pakistan, press clubs, and literary clubs are organizing festivals to remember his legacy and his importance in today's society.
Manto's basic contribution to Urdu literature (with respect to partition) is that he considered the killing of thousands of Hindus and Muslims during migration as a massacre of humanity rather than of any single religion. He said:
Don't say that a hundred thousand Hindus or a hundred thousand Muslims have been massacred. Say two hundred thousand human being have been slaughtered.
This was Manto's message at the time when religious division was at its peak. People were divided – rather isolated – on religious differences and did not consider killing a major crime against humanity. In such times, Manto rose as a messenger of humanism in the subcontinental literature. He wrote dramas like ‘Toba Tek Singh’ (name of a village in Pakistani Punjab), in which he highlighted the miseries of partition.
But is Manto relevant today? Yes! He definitely is relevant. His criticism on the hypocritical societal values, his attitude towards social taboos and ethos [ur], and his whimsical remarked towards United States makes him a living legend. Manto, as Zahida Hina rightly says, was a visionary.
Manto's writing can today help Pakistan to come out from the abyss of fundamentalism and extremism which is increasing day by day. The cultural and political crises which Pakistan is facing today were seen years ago by Manto in his article ‘Allah ka bara fazl ha’ (God's benevolence is infinite).
Social media was flooded with comments regarding Manto's life and his work.
B. P. Singh praises Manto with the following words:
Perspicacious man, a real human being, I have acted in one of his plays in India, and truly I follow some of his writing religiously. If the mankind seriously follows his writing spirit, the world really will become a heaven! True homage and salute to a nice person ‘Manto’.
@navedjaved: Remembering a prolific writer and a genius of his times, Saadat Hasan Manto on his birthday- RIP Legend!
@osamamotiwala: Saadat Hasan Manto, although you are just a memory, but some memories last forever. Shine on you crazy diamond.
Manto was never frightened from expressing his thoughts. He had to go to court for his writings. But, Manto only wrote what he saw. Nazir Ahmed Minto comments:
Manto only wrote what he SAW,…… and which those people did not want too see !
Naveeda Valentina tweets:
@NaveedaV: Janam din mubarak (Happy Birthday) Saadat Hasan Manto! A man who pulled no punches indeed. *jaam chalkaoing*
Manto is being given overwhelming coverage in Pakistani media (for English see: DAWN, THE NEWS). This fact is praise-worthy enough to be quoted. Although fanaticism has risen in the soicety, but Manto's voice still lives on.
Ahmed Shakeel tweets:
@Ahmed_Shakeel: It is heartening to see birth centenary of short story writer in Urdu Saadat Hasan Manto finds wide coverage especially in non Urdu media.
Manto died on 18th January 1955 at the age of 43. His thoughts will always be with us. Vivek Martolia comments:
manto sahab amar rahenge hamesha ke liye , he is alive in his stories.