Mujtaba Hussain: An immortal pillar of literature

By Huma Hussain

Hyderabad: The world knew him as the professional humourist who always prioritized helping the needy over anything, but I knew Mujtaba Hussain as the obstinate yet determined, humble and exemplary person he’s always been. To every jalsa he’s been to, from him narrating his ironic stories to the crowd applauding his wit, he was loved and reputed by many. He’s always been the man behind the pen, a leading influencer, the man with a treasured intellect, but to me, he was my guide, my life-giver, my ‘Abba’. He breathed his last right in front of my eyes, leaving not just the family he so lovingly established in shambles but also the entire Urdu world that worshipped his limitless talent and work.

The tall racks overloaded with books in his room never fascinated me, our walls decorated with prestigious awards never intrigued me, the number of phone calls he’d get on a daily basis never interested me, until now. His accomplishments could offer him a very lavish life, yet he preferred my siblings and I over everything that an ordinary man could only dream of. Despite having a well-settled life in Delhi, he flew back to Hyderabad permanently just to ensure my siblings and I were well nurtured with ideal values and knowledge.

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Mujtaba Hussain aimed to contribute to community

All his life, Abba aimed to contribute to the community in every way possible. He was a breathing example of a ‘perfectionist in the making’. He was known for being ahead of his time. Abba has always been the first person to push my cousins and I to pursue our ambitions, encouraging us even for the meagre efforts we put in. Everything from his strict punctuality rules to his silly quarrels with my grandmother, he’s been a mentor for all my cousins every step of the way. Everything we are, and I speak on behalf of all my cousins, we owe it to him. Whenever he got the chance, he’d begin reciting stories he’d make up in his head or his experiences that he was sure would cause ripples of laughter around the room.

He had the ability to walk into a room and grab the attention of many, he had the opportunity to take advantage of his prominence, yet he always reacted to it with his signature wit blended with humility. His incredible creativity and tolerance never let his popularity clash with his personal life. He spent majority of his life outdoors, always looking for a new opportunity to work more, to provide more. Every time he returned, the drill would begin; “Who called on the landline when I was away,” he would ask
me. How much I wish I could tell him the number of admirers that ringed my father and his very own phone after the news of his death was circulated. How much I wish he’d be reminded of his esteem and position in the eyes of millions one last time. How much I wish I’d told him that I was one of those admirers and will continue to be one even when I get to meet him again someday.

His charisma had worldwide impact

His charisma had a worldwide impact, his death not only reunited every enthusiast of his from across the globe but also the detached bonds that was beginning to become the remains of our family. Expecting the feeling of loneliness to visit us when he expired, we were showered with tremendous amount of condolences from people whose life was influenced by Abba instead. The action made us realize our position in a larger family that was created just by Abba’s existence. Grief was accompanied by a sense of understanding and relatability, that’s how easy Abba made it for us. As difficult as it was for me to witness his demise, I wouldn’t have had it otherwise. Knowing him on its own was an honour let alone be constantly bestowed by his unconditional love and support.

Not many can live after their death, but Abba seems immortal. He’s warmed so many lives, his legacy lives on. He’s the immortal pillar of not just literature, but the eternal bonds he’s created across the globe. His departure was a terrible loss, but it was also a chance for us to reborn for the Mujtaba Hussain we’ve all known. May his soul rest in peace. May we all gain the acknowledgement he received, at least some of it. Until next time, Abba.

By Huma Hussain (Granddaughter of Mujtaba Hussain)

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