some say he was a rebel. the one who goes against the set norms. thats what they like to call him. rebel. but they still have confusion. just a word for such man. rebel. nah. so they search for more words. words and words. and keep searching. but couldnt find any. the language he was so proficient in. doesnt have any word worth his caliber. yet they keep gathering people to define who he was. to confine him within words. to put labels on him. to find the exactness in him. to put him in black and white compartments. yet they fail. they fail to define him.
they lost track when they tried to make a boundary around him. to limit him. to quantify him. with who he was. a rebel. a revolutionary. a literary giant. or an alcoholic. he become all of them. and he was all of them. yet they remained unsatisfied with their findings. saadat hassan silently faded away. but manto became a thing. undaunted. fearless. bold. unwavering thing. yet undefined.
i bet it cracks manto up. to see them in such toil. in such labor. i bet he hates it. such toil. such labor. and what for. to know him. to curtail him. to measure his greatness. to enclose him in their words. i bet he hates it too. and as far as i know him, had he been alive, he would have taken them to the cleaners through his mighty pen. he would have given them a shut up call already.
so who he was. that we will never know. and that what makes him who he is. that his greatness lies not in knowing who he is but who he isnt. that manto is beyond any confinement. beyond the distinctive marked lucid boundaries. because he himself blurred them. that labeling him would minimize him. his greatness. so he un-tagged himself. rebel. they call him for a reason.
i call him just manto. manto. i like it that way. it covers everything. what he stood for. and what he despised. manto. a free spirit man. manto. our manto. our gone to soon manto.
manto whose stories were often ended up in court trials. and that he still he still had the audacity to contemplate if hes better than god in story writing or not. in a rather sarcastic tone. for the uproar his stories got. the stories he emulated from gods canvas. where they go unnoticed. a commentary on his times. on our times. a timeless tragedy.
manto whose language was asked to be made presentable. like that of his contemporaries. urdu. ghalibs language. the ornate fancy flowery language of respectable aristocracy. he made it ordinary. too relevant. profane. obscene. he contaminated the language he became the greatest short story writer of. an irony of his times. of our times. a timeless irony.
manto who defined himself for us. that he will live on. that every effort of defining him in words in physicality is needless. for he doesnt have an exactness. hes abstract. that even though we try hard to limit him. he cannot be enclosed. and thus makes him eternal. everlasting. that he knew who he was. ahead of his times. way ahead of ours. and i think thats all what matters. that manto was just manto. our manto. our gone too soon manto.