People love to hate him! They label him vulgar, cheap etc. But for me, Manto was a man with exceptional talent. I still remember, I read his story while browsing randomly on the internet and man it was goose-bumping stuff! The title “Thanda Ghosht”, itself was enough to give you an adrenalin rush. The story had everything; romance, fury, emotions, separation and of course sex- after all it was Manto stuff. I got sort of addicted to his stories since then, and believe me they take you to a different level every time you go through them.
Manto’s stories may appear to be quixotic at times, but with the creative hat on- they do make sense. My gut feeling says Manto was too deep to comprehend for the people of Pakistan. His story “Khol-Do” which demonstrates the atrocities of women, the barbaric act of men- was taken as a piece that will instigate people to rape! Saadat Hasan Manto once announced in public- “If you find my stories dirty, the society you are living in is dirty. With my stories, I only expose the truth”.
A man of Kashmiri origin, Manto was an iconoclast personality. He used to say- “To be a Kashmiri is to be handsome. And to be handsome, I don’t know”. Normally spotted in a white shirt or kurta, Manto had immense calmness on his face. Manto was an ardent wine lover and it is believed that it was his love for wine that brought about his early demise. Although he had all the fun elements in his stories, but on closer study and introspection you will find a flood of emotions. It was his unique style of masquerading emotions as desires!
I personally feel the partition in 1947, gave him tremendous sorrow. This can be easily felt in his classic satire on partition- “Toba-tek Singh”. The protagonist, who is a lunatic Sikh, finds it impossible to believe that “Hindustan” and “Pakistan” are two separate nations. He denies living in either of the nations and prefers dying on an unknown land between the borders of the two nations.
“… इधर-उधर से कई अफ़सर दौड़े आए और उन्होंने देखा कि वह आदमी जो 15 बरस तक दिन-रात अपनी दाँगों पर खड़ा रहा था, औंधे मुँह लेटा है-उधर ख़ारदार तारों के पीछे हिंदुस्तान था, इधर वैसे ही तारों के पीछे पाकिस्तान ; दरमियान में ज़मीन के उस टुकड़े पर जिसका कोई नाम नहीं था, टोबा टेक सिंह पड़ा था.” – Saadat Hasan Manto.