KARACHI: “Sirajul Haq Memon made me a courageous man, and I am proud to say he had my back.”
A renowned writer, columnist and fiction-writer, Amar Jaleel, admitted to an audience full of literary luminaries that he won’t be the writer he has become if it was not for Memon. Nearly all of Sindh’s literary geniuses gathered at Karachi Arts Council on Sunday afternoon to remember their inspiration, who passed away earlier this month.
Apart from Jaleel, Memon’s other contemporaries and fans said that he was an era in himself, who had excellent command over writing and editing in the Sindhi language. Everyone agreed that men like Memon are hardly born anymore.
Apart from being a writer, Memon was a journalist, a lawyer and a former editor of Sindhi daily Hilal-e-Pakistan. “I was just a story writer but he encouraged me to write columns for daily Hilal-e-Pakistan,” recalled Jaleel. “We used to work for seven years and he always stood by me.”
The daily newspaper was owned by the then prime minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who asked Memon to refrain from criticising him too much. Memon was, however, not bothered by these pressures. He encouraged Jaleel to write from his heart. “Arrest warrants were issued against me but he did not leave me alone.” “The influential people did not like my columns, but he would reply to them that he can stop publishing the paper but not my columns,” another renowned writer Noorul Huda Shah recalled fondly. “People like him made a Sindhi civil society and portrayed the image that Sindhis are basically educated.”
“For me, he was a Devta. You are still alive and we’ll continue your vision,” promised Memon’s son, Arshad Siraj. Jaleel also suggested Memon’s family compile all the editorials he wrote between 1972 and 1977 because he believed they are a historical masterpiece.
Appreciating Memon’s work, Sindh’s acting governor Nisar Ahmed Khuhro said that he was a great literary person. “Renowned Sindhi writers, poets and intellectuals have come to remember him today and this shows that the society is waking up,” he added.