Malik Ram an internationally-known authority on Ghalib is a versatile man of letters. A legend in his own life-time, he has a remarkable capability to deal with many subjects. He is, at the same time, an essayist, a biographer, a memoir-writer, a literary critic, a research scholar as also an authority on Islamic literature and culture and, it is in this capacity that he has won applause on his work from eminent Muslim scholars in India and abroad including the late Maul ina Abaul Majid Daryabadi (India) and the late Professor Yusuf Saleem Chishti (Pakistan);
Malik Rim, author of a large number of standard literary works like Zikr-i-Ghalib, Talamizah-i-Ghalib, Ayar-i-Ghalib, Qadeem Delhi College, Aurat Aur Islam and many others is at present busy with a work of classical nature with a tremendous magnitude. This is “`Tazkirah-i-Muasireen', four volumes of which are out by now. The first volume deals with the life and works of those Urdu poets, writers and scholars who passed away during the period 1967 to 1971; the second with those who left this earthly abode in 1972—1973; the third with those passing away in 1971975 and the fourth volume with the life and works of those who departed from us for good during 1975 and 1977.
While all these volumes and even those to follow form a part of one single whole, each one of these volumes has a separate entity and is complete in itself without being described as a part of the other one.
The fourth Volume of “Tazkirah-i-Muasireen”, under review at present, is a Sahitya Akademi award-winning volume and deals with the lives and works of 52 prominent Urdu writers. More prominent of them are of course Syyed Mohammad Jafri (Pakistan), Josh Malsiani (India), Rasheed Ahmad Siddiqi (India), Tehseen Sarwari (Pakistan), Krishan Chandra (India), Shyam Mohan Lal Jigar Bareilvi (India), Kirpal Singh Bedar (India), Ibrahim Jalees (Pakistan), Jan Nisar Akhtar (India), Kashfi Multani (Pakistan), Abd-ur-Razzaq Qureshi (India), Mohammad Usman Farqaleet (India), Mulla Wahidi (Pakistan), Syyed Waqar Azeem (Pakistan), Mubariz-i-ud-Din Rifaat (India), Makeen Ahsan Kaleem (Pakistan), Malik Nasrullah Khan Aziz (Pakistan) Rasa Jalandhri (Pakistan) and Jai Krishan Chaudhri Habeeb (India).
Memoir-writing in Urdu has an age-old tradition. But memoirs written in the early period were not memoirs in the true sense of the word. Most of these memoirs have dealt only with poets and after writing a sentence ot two about the name, parentage, date of birth and place of birth, even that too without full 'erification, the memoir writers have given a selection of their couplets. These memoirs are, therefore, more or less compilations of poems by the departed poets. Although further research has brought to light a number of new aspects of the lives and works of these poets, n )t a word has been added to these memoirs. And these are still Being used, with the incomplete information contained therein, is the source material by the students of Urdu. Also for a very long time no new book of memoirs of Urdu writers has appeared in India or Pakistan with the result that the gap already existing has widened in the sphere of Urdu literature.
Malik Ram deserves compliments from the Urdu world for embarking on a project which will fill this void to a great extent and guide the students of Urdu language and literature, desirous of working on any one of the writers dealt with in this book or the period to which these writers, scholars and poets belonged.
“Tazkirah-i-Muasireen” is a work of encyclopaedic nature and the writer has taken pains to collect material about these literatures from various sources including their relatives, pupils, friends, files of old magazines and newspapers and also notes prepared by Malik Ram himself during their life-time. In many cases he has also referred to the writings left by the deceased himself. The work has also involved long travels on the part of the author in search of the source material and eventually to lend authenticity to what he wrote. The author while writing this volume has also depended on his memory as some of the men of letters about whom he has written, were personally. known to him. The book has become all the more valuable and authentic as the author has indicated in it the source of his information.
The volume under review like Malik Ram's other works, is a specimen of beautiful Urdu prose. A diligent reader of this book would note that the author does not join independent clauses by a comma, does not un-necessarily break a sentence into two, prefers the active voice to the passive one, omits needless words and avoids a succession of loose sentences. Not only this. He puts his heart and soul in his prose and comes very close to his reader leaving no scope for communication-gap.
Malik Ram’s prose is vigorous and concise. Not only that his sentences contain no un-necessary words, his paragraphs contain no un-necessary sentences. To quote Professor William Strunk Jr. “a drawing should have no un-necessary lines and a machine no un-necessary parts”. However, this should not lead a reader to misconstrue that Malik Ram avoids all details and treats his subject only in out-line. No in the case of his prose every word tells. His prose is a specimen of cleanliness, accuracy and brevity in the use of language.
“Tazkirah-i-Muasireen” published by Maktaba-i-Jamia, Ltd. New Delhi, is a valuable addition to the Urdu literature on memoirs produced so far. We the students of Urdu language and literature eagerly wait for the volumes to follow in this series.’’
Prof. Jagan Nath Azad