Saadat Hasan Manto is a ‘man of struggle’ who has written his agony as writings. He is an Indian-Pakistani writer from the post-colonial period who influenced his writings on the partition. Hasan was known to be in a lot of legal trouble at the time due to his writings, which were bold during those times and were considered obscene. Though he was never convicted, he was quite criticized due to his portrayal of women in his books.
However, he is also popular for one more invention and that is ‘victim card’. A dialogue appears in my mind, “is victim card ki keemat tum kya jano?” as only liberals know what victim card actually means.
When Manto played victim card for the first time
Manto migrated from India to Pakistan post-Partition in January 1948.
The film Manto ‘revealed’ why the writer left for Pakistan. Shyam, Manto’s best friend’s family is gets butchered by Muslims. A distressed Manto’s said, “What happens to bones whose flesh have been peeled off. How will you recognise if they were Hindu bones or Muslim bones; will you burn them or bury them?” An infuriated Shyam replied, “These are not characters in your story. This was my family. These Muslims should be…”
Manto then asks, “if you hate Muslims so much now, you would have probably killed me too.”
‘Yes, I would have… Shyam replied.
Shyam, then, refers to his drinking habit and says, “…Arrey tum to vaise bhi kaun sey bade Musalman ho”? Manto’s reply, “Itna bada to hoon ki mara ja sakoon”!
Then, during seeing him off ,Shyama pologsies and says, “Us din jo maine kaha, Mujhe afsoso hai”.
‘Nahi, mujhe maar kar tumhe zyada afsos hota’, hinting why he left for Pakistan.
You see, this is the Manto for you. The man played victim card very smartly and is probably the one to inspire others to how to play a victim card.
Manto’s drinking habits led him to die
On the foggy morning of 18 January 1955, Saadat Hasan Manto, died in an apartment located off Hall Road in Lahore. His death, however, was no surprise as it was his habit for drinking, which led to alcoholism, paved the way for Manto’s untimely demise.
His Lahore-based middle daughter and my mother, Nuzhat, whom he called Jujiya jee,“He could see his own traits in me, the naughtiness and bluntness that formed part of Manto’s personality,” she adds. “The way he drank was suicidal, and this is my grievance against him.”
Saadat Hasan Manto had once written, “Literature and film, in my opinion, are like saloons where bottles have no labels. I want to taste each one myself and figure out which is what. If I’m denied this by labeling, then my entertainment is considerably lessened.”
Manto has been accused of using exploitative story tropes, and female sexuality to sell books. The writer was also accused of obscenity multiple times. Reportedly, he even had to pay a fine of ₹300 to stay out of jail. He once described the female body in detail. Also, he referred ‘breasts’ as ‘breasts’ instead of using some suggestive language.
Despite being the one who kept playing victim card and left India, Manto has been ruling the literature world for a long time now. However, one must realise that he might be a great artist but wasn’t a nationalist at all.