ISLAMABAD-Margala Hotel, Islamabad was the epicentre for literary minds as the 6th Islamabad Literature Festival with the title “The focus is tomorrow: Reflecting on the past” got underway.

It is two and half day bonanza, where the denizens of the capital can rub shoulders with playwrights, authors, novelists, publishers, poets in the likes of Haseena Moen, Noorul Huda Shah, Asghar Nadeem Syed, Muhammad Hanif, Iftikhar Arif and many others .

In-depth sessions on book reviews, Q&A, book launch of upcoming writers and paying tributes to those fraternity members who have left this world, fills the daily schedule of the festival.

“Bayed-e-Dr Enver Sajjad” session was moderated by Irfan Urfi whereas the discussion panel consisted of Haseena Moin, Kishawar Naheed, Ghazanfar Hashmi and Asghar Nadeem Syed.

Kishwar Naheed and Asghar Nadeem Syed spoke in length on the life of Dr Enver Sajjad reminiscing on the days when Lahore used to be a Mecca of literary activities. Syed who considers himself a disciple of Dr Enver Sajjad as well as his closest confidant, shed light on him as a doctor, a writer and director cum actor.

The speakers talked about different shades of Dr Sajjad’s life beautifully, by narrating personal experiences, events and interesting incidents.

“He had stopped writing for a very long time but never explained why. When he left teaching and moved to Karachi, he asked me to replace him at the institution and till today I am following his orders and feel so accomplished that I am teaching Dr Enver Sajjad’s class,” informed Syed.

Haseena Moin said although being a resident of Karachi, it was not a regular interaction with Sajjad sahab in the beginning but whenever he visited Karachi or I was in Lahore , I made it a point to meet him.

”He was our mentor. Once he was giving a lecture somewhere in Karachi and I went and took a seat on the back bench in his class. He refused to teach unless I leave the class or stand by him. He was such a high stature soul,” she told the audience.

Kishwar Naheed said that he used to love to talk and discuss novels, books and what is going on in an author’s mind.

“Anwar always wanted an exclusive sitting with an author he was intrigued about to explore and to understand his frame of mind,” mentioned one the speakers.

A book discussion on “The Mercurial Mr Bhutto and Other stories” a compilation of short stories essayed by Maheen Usmani, an award winning journalist was held in an adjacent hall. In her debut collection, the author has tried to give her readers a taste of multi cultural society very much existent in Pakistan but known to a few.

The hypocrisy of the social circles has been beautifully depicted in these 10 short stories.

She deserves credit for weaving the short stories so intricately that there is nothing left unanswered.

“15 minutes of Fame” peeks into a life of a middle class family where financial constraints, love affair, indifference civic obstacles and the ugly truth of the media industry for worldly gains and rat race to be number one in breaking news competition is tragically narrated.

Usmani’s last story in the book is titled “baby” and it is indeed an eye opener for the readers. “Baby” talks about child abuse, but in this story, the victim is a young boy whereas the molester is a grown woman. Yes, the writer has dared to challenge the clichés of the society.

–The writer is a freelance contributor