New Delhi: Overwhelmed by the welcome they received in India, the daughters of legendary Urdu writer Saadat Hassan Manto say visiting the village where their father was born has fulfilled their age-old desire.
As both India and Pakistan celebrate Manto`s birth centenary, his three daughters Nighat Patel, Nuzhat Arshad, and Nusrat Jalal are on a special visit to India, which included a trip to the writer`s birthplace, Papraudi village in Punjab.
Interacting with women journalists at the Indian Women Press Corps, the eldest, Nighat Patel, said: "We are not even habituated to answering such questions. It is only in the last three days that we have learnt to talk so much."
Writer of stories like `Thanda Gosht`, `Khol Do` and `Toba Tek Singh`, Manto was born and brought up in undivided India and migrated to Pakistan post-partition.
Nighat described how she always wanted to visit the place where her father was born, but could not do so earlier because of visa restrictions.
"We had been to India earlier to meet relatives, or for weddings, but due to visa restrictions, we could never go there," Nighat said.
Nuzhat related how they were touched by the grand welcome they received.
"We had never seen something like this, the love we got in Punjab and in Delhi, it is unique," she said.
Asked if any of the three ever think about writing, Nighat said "Had we done so, we would have been compared to our father. And we cannot be anything close to him".
Manto, whose works had been surrounded by controversy as he challenged the social and political norms of his time, was recently awarded Pakistan`s highest civilian honour, the Nisan-i-Imtiaz.
His youngest daughter, Nusrat Jalal says the government was forced to finally reconise his work as his name refused to die long after his death.
"They must have thought his name will die, people will forget about him. But his name remained alive even after 100 years, and they were forced to recognise and honour him," says Nusrat.
Asked about the memories of their father, Nusrat explains they were very young when he died. Pointing at her sisters, she tells Nighat was 9, Nuzhat 7, and she just 5 when Manto died at a young age of 42.
However, recollecting faint memories and what they heard from their mother, Nuzhat says he was a very homely person.
"He was a rebel, but he was very homely, helped in household chores, even gave suggestions to Ammi (mother) what to wear. He loved cleanliness," she says.
She also recalls her father`s fondness for pens and shoes.
"He would tell my mother, if you make three people sit in front of me, I can narrate three different stories on then," Nuzhat adds.
The date May 11, 2012 marked Manto`s birth centenary. His daughters reached India through the border at Atari Sep 4. On their way back, Manto`s daughters will visit Koocha Vakilaan, a locality in Amritsar where the writer spent a considerable time of his life.