Saadat Hasan Manto was a Pakistani writer and is considered one of the best short-story writers in the whole of South Asia. He was born into a middle-class Muslim family on May 11, 1912 and is known for his unique style of writing in literature. Through studying the work of western writers he learned the art of short story writing and so in his early 20s translated Russian, French and English short stories into Urdu and achieved a great success. He used to write an entire story in one sitting, with very few corrections. It is both astonishing and inspiring that such a modern writer was alive at the very birth of Pakistan.
Here are the facts that will throw some light on the iconic and revolutionary writer’s life:
Manto lived for just 42 years and had done a lot of work. He wrote 230 stories, a novel, 67 radio plays, 70 articles and a couple of sketch collections. He also worked for All India Radio in 1941, where he authored most of his radio plays.
As his second nature, he was more of a rebellion, as was the only person to step up and assist a magician in a fire walking drill when he was a teenager.
His career began with translating a few of the most popular French and Russian stories in Urdu. He first started of translating the Victor Hugo’s ‘The Last Day of a Condemned Man’.
Manto failed his matriculation exams three years consecutively then in 1934 he went to study further and so he enrolled himself in the Aligarh Muslim University.
His Style of Writing
He had a very simple, yet powerful and honest style of narrating a story. Most of his popular stories are based on India-Pakistan partition and many of them had a spine-tingling end to them that left a lasting impact on the reader. So, due to his writing style and lack of censorship, he faced many accusations which claimed his work to be obscene but not even once convicted.
Charged for Obscenity
Manto faced multiple trials for obscenity in his writings in both India and Pakistan for ‘Dhuan,’ ‘Bu,’ and ‘Kali Shalwar’ in India before 1947 and for ‘KholDo,’ ‘Thanda Gosht,’ and ‘Upar Neeche Darmiyaan’ in Pakistan after 1947 where he was fined only in one case. For the charges of obscenity he said “I am not a pornographer but a story writer”.
Manto suffered from chronic abnormal anxiety and lived under the perpetual fear that all close to him hated him secretly.
He stood on trail six times, thrice before and thrice after the partition on different occasions for obscenity, but wasn’t convicted even once. During one of his trials in court, he popularly said, “A writer picks up his pen only when his sensibility is hurt.” He penned his magnum opus ‘Toba Tek Singh’ while he was being treated at a mental asylum this shows his sheer dedication and love for what he does.
Migration to Pakistan
In 1948, Manto chose to migrate to Lahore (in Pakistan) from Bombay (in India). After shifting to Pakistan, he kept writing for the next 7 years. Manto had liver cirrhosis and succumbed to it in 1955.