It is with great sadness that I learned that a great Urdu dramatist, novelist and intellectual, Ashfaq Ahmed has passed away. I always thought of him and his wife, Banu Qudsia, as the gentle, wise uncle and aunt of Urdu. I met him on a few occasions and remember, with great fondness, his kindness.
I used his short story Gadaria [The Shepherd] in my class this spring and it got an amazing reaction from all the students. It is the story of Pundit Chintaram, a scholar of Persian and Arabic, who tutors an affluent son of a Muslim. When the riots break out, and the Pundit is surrounded by a screaming mob demanding that he recite the kalimah, he simply asks: Which one? In that tale of people crossing political, cultural and religious boundaries, that sentence stayed with me for a long time. A mohajir himself, Ashfaq Ahmed arrived at Walton Camp along with a million other refugees and made Lahore his home. Partition and the horrors done in the name of religion and state were mainstays in his literature. He gained his popularity from his teleplays, Eik Muhabbat Sau Afsanay and Tota Kahani on PTV.
You can read a better obit here. My thoughts and prayers go with his family.