We often say that the hour of death cannot be foreseen. When we say this, we imagine this hour would be in a distant future. We never thought that we would be remembering Asrar Sahab as a memory, when we were publishing his book.
Hafsa Idrees, Co-founder Daastan
An artist breathes their art. They become it. When their art is appreciated, they feel appreciated. But when their art is ignored, overlooked and forgotten, it feels as if they have faded away too. Such is the story of our beloved, Asrar Jamayee.
Who was Asrar Jamayee?
Asrar Jamayee was an Urdu poet, born in 1937 in Patna to Syed Wali-ul-Haq; a landlord who was an active member of the Khilafat Movement. A once renowned and sought-out poet, Asrar Sahab’s life took a drastic turn when he was shockingly declared dead by the Government of India. What followed was years and years of struggle for recognition and basic human rights. But while he suffered, his awe-inspiring determination in the face of adversity and his excellent poetic works made him friends with people who loved him and continue to do so.
Daastan has had the honour of being one of those who could play a little role in Asrar Sahab’s life. We helped bring his work “Tanz Paarey” to life. And two days ago, we received the heart-breaking news of him finally passing onto the other world. The 83-year-old poet took his final breath on April 4th, 2020 in a small home in Delhi. His death is, indeed, a huge loss not only to mankind but to Urdu language too. We, at Daastan express our immense grief on this sad occasion and pay tribute to the legend who deserved more by bringing to you his story. A story we shall never forget.
Asrar Jamayee’s Life
Asrar ul Haq who adopted the pen name Jamayee, began reciting his poetry at a young age upon his teacher, Dr Hussain‘s advice. Jamayee lost both his parents while he was still struggling to establish himself. He was thus forced to quit college and return to Patna where he opened a coaching institute for engineering and medical sciences. But this unfortunate course of action resulted in a bloom in his poetry.
Jamayee wrote four volumes of poetry books and kept reciting at Mushairas and soon his work earned him a name. Asrar was awarded a Prize by the 1st President of India, Dr. Rajendra Prasad. His satirical expression along with the crisp sherwanis he often wore, became his style statement across the country. He not only scored among the commoners but also inspired various Chief Ministers and big names like Rajiv Gandhi and President Abdul Kalam, who later invited him as a guest on one occasion.
Rekhta recently payed tribute to Asrar Jamayee through this video:
Downfall for the Urdu Poet
In a sad turn of events, Jamayee soon found himself in adverse conditions. He lost his only property, a room inJamia Nagar, Delhito local thugs. In 2013, due to a government fault, Jamayee lost his pension upon being stated dead in official records. He spent his final years trying to prove his existence to the government officials. Arre, an Indian Website covered his story while Jamayee made rounds to be recognized as a living person.
During this time, in a car accident he fractured his hand but could not go for surgery due to lack of funds. Having no family of his own and brother Iqbal Yousaf who never supported him, Jamayee spent his last breaths in tragic conditions.
No matter how much value his words contained, there was very little that he could now trade them for. In 2018, The Wire held an interview with the old poet who talked about his life and struggles:
The hardships he faced for himself, he bore without complain. He wished nothing for himself but a respectable place and for his writings to be recognized. His only desire in these last days, was to publish his work. Abhijit Khandkar, a regular visitor and close friend of Jamayee Sahb’s caretakers, writes:
“A man who never even once wallowed in self pity when there was every reason to. Even when we had to raise funds for his ailment and daily needs, we had to guise it in a way as he still wouldn’t take money or cash directly from any of his visitors, such was his self respect. All he asked for, was an honest listener, to whom he could read his poetry. “
Abhijit Khandkar, a close friend of Asrar Jamayee
Books and Awards
Asrar Jamayee wrote several books as a satire on politics inculcating hindu traditions and legends. Ram Darshan is one of these political commentaries that talk about society and return of Ram. His collection of books include Shayare Azam, Attare Azam, Baghe Daraz, Zarbe Kalaam, Khale Jibraeel, Murghane Hijaz, Dili Darshan, Bharat Darshan and Ram Darshan. Although deserving, Jamayee never received awards like the Padma Shiri or Urdu Academy Award, perhaps due to the lack of political support that he inherited. In Jamayee’s own words, the worth of an artist is :
We are honored to have helped a true legend in these last, most sorrowful days of his life. Daastan with the help of Jamayee sahb’s fans in both Pakistan and India, published his book titled ‘Tanz Paaray‘. Daastan’s Urdu Editor Ms. Qudsia Jamali, digitized Asrar Sahb’s book. The book’s cover design, publishing and distribution was done by Daastan. The beautifully written poems that were long awaiting a roof over their head just like their creator, were finally given the shelter of a book. The journey of these torn, dusty sheets lying dormant beside the man who had once recited them to crowds of hundreds, reached their destiny by being published.
The smile on his face upon holding his last book was priceless and we shall cherish that for a lifetime. Daastan is proud to have been a part of this journey.
You don’t know the extent of joy you gave him by publishing his work. He would show it to every visitor so proudly. The copies he would keep by his side. He wanted to publish more and visit Pakistan again. That now remains…
Apart from helping Jamayee publish his book ‘Tanz Paaray‘, Daastan worked closely with Karan, the founder of Arre. In a radio interview hosted by the Co-founder of Daastan, Ms. Hafsa Idrees, she talked to Karan about his work and the condition of Asrar Jamayee Sahb.
Ms. Idrees penned her condolences for the late Asrar Sahab,
He had the most amazing, courageous strength and tenacity that every single person who ever came in contact with him could feel. We all know he went through so much in the past years, from being falsely declared dead to the struggles that followed. Things that would have broken a lot of people but never Asrar Sahab. He carried on gracefully because he knew he had to be strong for the people who were going to follow him and his legacy. Rest in peace, Asrar Sahab.
Hafsa Idrees, co-founder Daastan
Daastan had been working with Karan and Asrar Jamayee in these past years which developed a very special bond between both parties. It is due to our emotional attachment to the departed soul that we are left in deep sorrow upon his death. Syed Ommer Amer, the founder of Daastan expressed his feelings in a recent Facebook post that read:
” We will miss you. Forever. I promise that every year, we will keep your legacy alive and tell the world about you, your work and the life you lived ”
Syed Ommer Amer, founder Daastan
Our Cofounder Sidra Amin, through whom we connected with Asrar Jamayee and Karan, shares an equally strong bond. She conveys her despair in the following words:
“It is heartbreaking to know about Asrar sahab’s demise because we couldn’t give him anything in all this time. He needed financial help for his health and living conditions, but we couldn’t manage to do any of it. Heck, we couldn’t even get on another call with him. I am happy he had his poetry books, his smile, and love of people when he went away. I am glad that he wasn’t as lonely in this time as he must have felt when he was wrongfully declared dead earlier. Rest in peace, Asrar sahab“
Sidra Amin, co-founder Daastan
Ms. Qudsia Huzaifa, the lady who digitized Asrar Sahab’s book, Tanz Paaray expressed her views by stating
It was an honor for me to work on his work and it was my dearest wish to meet him… I am not a great author or a poet who can pay a tribute to him however based on what I read, I want to say that ‘Every word written by the father of humor is complete in itself and carries secrets within which serve as an institution for other poets’.
We value these hand-written notes sent to us by Jamayee during our correspondence over his recent book, Tanz Paaray on which we were working.
In this meek attempt to keep his legend alive, we at Daastan pay tribute to Asrar Jamayee sahb and take comfort from the fact that his soul must have finally found the peace and comfort which this temporary world could not offer. We hope that Urdu language and Urdu lovers keep his poetry alive, if not while he lives then at least while he rests, we must remember him!
We have included information about Jamayee to the best of knowledge. If you have any more information about the late poet, do share it with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This year, Daastan completed 5 years of bringing good literature to Pakistani readers! Starting in 2016, with only a vision and an intense passion, Team Daastan worked tirelessly, day and night to revamp the literary community and bring the love of reading and writing back.
Now we’ve finally reached the 5 year mark and it called for celebration! We at Daastan threw a Literary party to celebrate a milestone in our journey towards creating a better informed, enlightened and learned society. On the very first day of the new year, when hopes and dreams fly as high as the sky, the founder of DaastanMr OmmerAmer along with his team celebrated the efforts that shaped what Daastan is today. At this memorable occasion, people were invited to showcase their talent through performances and interactive talks were held to further our vision. Let us have throwback at an unforgettable memory!
Held at the National Incubation CenterIslamabad, Daastan’s fifth birthday was an enjoyable interaction between the representatives of Daastan, authors, students and journalists. The event began with reminding our spectators, the vision behind Daastan, our journey from where it all started, the hardships we faced and the position we now hold at a local as well as global level. A fun online quiz based on contestant’s knowledge of Daastan was also played. Mr. Ashraf, one of our panelists, won the quiz!
In an attempt to promote local languages and talent, we encouraged our participants to perform in their local languages. Some immensely beautiful songs were hummed and the variety showcased was commendable. Our newly launched OST Rabba was also played to acknowledge the efforts of our diverse team.
A discussion was held on the ‘Past, Present and Future of Publishing in Pakistan’, our esteemed panelists Mr. Ashraf Baltistani, Mr. Abdul Samad Ms. Aleena Khan and Ms. Khunsa Naseer, contributed considerably. It was discussed how the influence of this revival of Publishing in Pakistan had an impact in the respective fields of all the panelists. Daastan’s role in this revival of the publishing industry and the future prospects created henceforth, were highly congratulated and acknowledged.
Happy 5th Birthday, Daastan!
What’s a birthday party without cutting a delicious cake, right? Ending on a sweet note, our Founder Mr Ommer Amer cut a cake and everyone got a chance to personally interact with our team, the authors and the spectators. We hope to keep growing and sharing this bond created on and through the love of Literature. If you share our passion and want to contribute with us on this vision in any capacity, sign up with us at Daastan and become a part of our journey!
Mused is an attempt towards a better informed society. Good content and literature is essential in making any society prosper, grow and develop. Whilst struggling with economic, political or social problems in Pakistan, we often tend to over-look the root of the cause; little intellectual growth. No matter how much we strive for our economy or peace in political matters, if we do not work on our intellectual capacities and not give food to our minds, social growth will always remain stunted.
Mused– The Art of Everything
To bring about an intellectual revolution, Daastan has been working tirelessly for these past few years in developing opportunities for writers and content creators to widen the access of literature to our public. Mused is Daastan’s first Live Show, aimed towards boosting the creative industry and helping artists accelerate their growth, both intellectually and career-wise. Spanned across a number of seasons, each season of Mused deals with a separate theme. These include book writing, female entrepreneurship, creative spaces in South Asia and more.
The first season of Mused dealt with the theme “The Art and the Artist – Writing a Book.” If you missed the live show, not to worry! Become part of the discussion by watching the session here
The Host– Miss Summaiya Naveed
Mused is hosted by Daastan’s Editor, Ms. Summaiya Naveed. Summaiya is a published writer with a particular interest in poetry. She is an English Literature and Linguistics grad in the making and has worked for the Pakistani literary community as both an editor and a content creator. She is one of those passionate writers who possess the courage to submit to whatever circumstances they are faced with while pursuing a career they love. Through Mused, she is bringing together artists from all creative communities into a single space.
For the first episode, we received an energetic and were able to reach 1000+ viewers. Here is a quick summary of what the discussion was.
What we talked about
The agenda for the first episode was 3-fold.
1. Tips on Improving your Language
The episode began with how to improve your expression. For this, Summaiya explained to us the difference between informing and expressing. She emphasized the need to express in a way that the reader feels engaged and can relate to. It was also advised to use simple basic vocabulary so that the essence of the work was highlighted and not covered up by complicated vocabulary. She explained how in the manuscripts she had come across as an editor, most writers try to plant in fancy words and phrases to make the text look more professional which often backfires because there is little sense made by merely attaching enormous words for simplistic feelings.
Another mistake she pointed out was the use of clichés in writing. This, she explained, creates a boring image and suggests un-originality on part of the writer. To improve expression, shesuggested extensive reading to explore further expressions and using writing prompts to develop writing skills.
2. Preliminaries of Book Writing
Thesecond idea discussed was the Preliminaries of Book Writing. Summaiya pointed out that when writers are inspired by some idea, most of the time, they just start writing instantly without pre-planning the material. By laying down a rough timeline of your story and sketching out the main events that will take place, the story achieves greater finesse. Thus, she suggested making a journal and keep filling it with the events of the story. Decide before hand how the story will start, reach a middle and what will happen at the end.
After setting up a fair idea of the timeline and events, start building your characters. A very good idea of doing this, Summaiya explained, was to put your characters in different situations and see how they will act upon it. Get to know your character before telling the reader who he/she is. After characterization, came setting. She talked about the importance of the time and place of your story and developing the characters accordingly. Lastly, tone and genre were extensively discussed. Summaiya describes that each genre has a specific tone which should be maintained throughout the story. The tone is vital since it is what through the tone that the reader will connect and be a part of the story.
3. The Confidence to Self-Publish
Lastly and most importantly, we discussed the lack of confidence in many writers when it comes to publishing their own work. Summaiya encouraged writers to put their work out there and emphasized on the need for Pakistani writers to contribute in this social development of their society. She also assured new writers that even though their book might not reach the kind of fame they had imagined, they should not beat themselves up about it. Pakistan’s literary space is still young and evolving and it will take time for us to get to the point where our writers reach international recognition. But this must not dishearten you and your strife should go on. Pakistani literature needs you!
Moreover, joining literary communities on social media was another suggestion made. This will widen your exposure and allow you to explore and be inspired by other struggling or contemporary writers. Through these communities you can also take part in literary activities and improve your skills. We were lastly reminded that we ourselves are our biggest hindrance and also our biggest supporters. Which role we play in our journey is entirely our own choice.
This sums up our first live session of Mused. We hope that you enjoyed the first episode and we look forward to bringing more informative sessions to keep the healthy debate active and alive. If you feel you share our passion for literary development in Pakistan and want to work on our mission, sign up with us at Daastan. Let’s grow together!
During the mid-summer of 2018, before Daastan Naama app was made available to the public through Google Play Store, an extensive marketing campaign was conducted on social media websites. The campaign, recorded under the hashtag of #OneOftheFifty, gained so much popularity and garnered an astonishing amount of traffic. People from all around the world wanted to be featured on Daastan Naama. Our team was constantly being asked questions to find out what it is that needed to be done to become a part of #OneOftheFifty. Speculations bloomed about who these celebrated authors were, how they were selected, and what is it that they were a part of.
Creative posters were designed which had the picture and name of the author, along with the title of their work which was to appear in Daastan Naama. The posters were titled with hashtags of #Top50AuthorsYouDontKnowAbout and #OneofFifty, which created a buzz in the whole community of Daastan over what was coming. Eventually it would become clear that the work of these authors would be uploaded to the app in the style of poetry recitals and podcasts. This innovative twist on sharing their work brought it to life, and that too in their very own voice.
Each author in the spotlight had something unique to add to the app. The very first one was Ms. Kayenaat Hameed Khattak, an English poetess whose poem “God is Great” was chosen for the app. The next author was Ms. Dania Shah, whose Urdu humorous prose “Muhabbat ki Shadi” found its way up, followed by Urdu prose of Ms. Durre Shahwar Ali. Other English poets featured included Ms. Waneeza Zia, Ms. Momina Latif, Ms. MaryamMr. Hassan Naqvi, Mr. Saad Ahmad, Ms. Maryam Arshad, etc. Mr. Morgan Melhuish, from the United Kingdoms, also contributed an English poem. Another very curious and pleasant feature was the addition of two Pashto poems by Ms. Spugmai Alee Khattak, and also a poetry piece in Punjabi by Mr. Abrar Nadeem, an award-winning author and script writer for PTV. A Punjabi play was also contributed by Ali Usman Bajwa.
Want to have a trove of literary goodness on your phones? Download the app now! Sign up with Daastan and get updates on all our upcoming literary activities.
The members of Daastan are immensely proud of the way the company has scaled beyond even their wildest imaginations. It has been such a pleasure to watch the way it inspires not only them but thousands around the country. How artists step a little ahead of the game, and bring to the stage all the creativity that was hidden in them for ages before they tapped it. Daastan doesn’t just excel at the play of words, but rather it is a digital hub of activity. It is always on the lookout for carving out niches which can help the creatives get more involved with us. We look for opportunities to attain greater reach for those who we have already published. It was one such drive which led us to do the next big thing for Daastan.
Seeking the Digital Avenue
The internet presence of Daastan started from Facebook. From there, it went on to take over all of the major digital media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram. What followed was Daastan’s very own website, and then, Qissa’s self-publishing portal. All of these mediums were received enthusiastically by our followers, and praised heavily in the public by the critics. Over the years, our team made it a point to strengthen our digital presence, providing professional and aesthetic upgrades to Qissa, and Daastan’s website for each new venture as it came along. And so, after having mastered the internet through most of the digital avenues that are offered, only one was missing – a mobile application.
It struck the team that most of their readers’ time online is spent on the phones rather than PCs.To increase our readership and make the work of our writers readily available, we must also provide it on their phones – much like any other eBook they would be reading. And so, the team dived headfirst into bringing this idea to reality. In July of 2018, Daastan Naama finally hit Google Play Store. Bursting with literary goodness, Daastan was now available just a touch away. The app’s interface was divided into two portions. One featured all the fiction published under the banner of The Stories Untold. The second was an interesting feature which had the poetry and other works of almost 50 authors, vocalized and brought to life by their own voice.
If you haven’t checked it out yet, download it on your mobile phones from Play Store now!
Only a journey of three short and sweet months into the launch of Qissa, Daastan’s Facebook family grew to ten thousand strong. It was a momentous achievement for us. Not only were we touching the lives of thousands of people offline, but our reach had also crossed the 5-digit mark. The team that worked day and night felt invincible, and were aiming for heights that grazed the highest of mountains and then went a bit further. Along with the feeling of happiness though was attached a feeling of responsibility. The executives of the company understood that from then onward, every little thing they would share with their community would have to be one which contributed positively in the life of all their readers.
Our Journey Continues on Facebook!
And thus, began the second phase in the journey of Daastan growing its Facebook family. The page not only serves as the central social media hub for Daastan, apart from its websites, but is also used as a breaking-news room for the company. It features all the news of happenings from both inside and outside Daastan, letting our community know about our achievements. The crowd funding campaigns that Daastan became famous for, which helped bring the work of their authors to print, are now also all held on Facebook.
We Know We Make An Impact
Our Facebook serves as a way for us to interact with the community. We eventually hired social media representatives who would post questions and anecdotes that helped keep the conversation flowing. Daastan also utilized this resource by sharing each and every opportunity that came their way through their friends. Daastan coined its very own hashtags such as #AchievementUnlocked, which was later adopted by many companies for sharing their accomplishments with their social media gang. And so, a couple years after the first monumental breakthrough in the number of followers, Daastan saw that their reach had doubled to twenty thousand. Looking back now, it seems that it wasn’t only the numbers that grew so remarkably, but also the impact.
Want to keep up with all the exciting news and opportunities? Follow us on our Facebook page!