I was a Bachelor's degree college student in Forman Christian College (now Forman Christian College University) in the Spring and Summer of 1977 when I bought a slim volume entiteld Maah e Muneer (ماہ ِ منیر ) which had come out recently at that time, being the latest collection of poems and ghazals by the eminent modern Urdu poet from Lahore, Pakistan, Mohtaram Munir Niazi. I remember that on some evenings, when I walked past the now defunct Panj Darya literary magazine's offices on Temple Road near Regal Cinema, I would sometimes spot an immaculately clad, grey haired, impressive looking man sitting in an arm chair enjoying the evening air in his traditional "collarless" muslin shirt and cotton shalwar (تریزوں والا کرتا اور شلوار ): this was Munir Niazi himself !
One evening, as my younger sister and I went past Munir Sahib, my sister went up to him, told him that the Urdu novelist A. Hameed was her maternal uncle, presented him her newly bought autograph book and got his autograph in the shape of one of his Urdu couplets in his own handwriting . . . she still cherishes that memory to this day.
Anyway, I would sometimes catch Munir Niazi on Pakistan Television's black and white TV transmissions where he would recite some of his poems in a gruff voice tinged with emotion and I would be swept away by the sheer magic of the words he had arranged in those short poems of his. All the traditional, classical Urdu poetry that I had been exposed to during my school days e.g. the Urdu Literature syllabus of the Cambridge University's Overseas High School Exams which we had digested over 2 years at Cathedral High School, The Mall, Lahore and the Urdu syllabus for our Intermediate degree or F.Sc. certificate program devised by Lahore Textbook Board now appeared very inadequate and tame compared to what Munir Niazi was creating right before my eyes, so to speak.
I was very impressed and swept off my feet with this blazing trail of modern Urdu poetry emanating from the personage of Munir Niazi. I still remember him sitting there in the receding evening light, the sun's dying rays reflecting off the Saint Anthony Cathedral's red brick domes. His eyes seemed to be seeing something out of this world . . . the creative vortex whirling within his soul was apparent on his angelic face . . . his whole being, clothed in meticulous white fabric seemed too good for this world !!
Here is an Urdu poem from Maah e Muneer which I used to read and re-read in those days ... I was reminded of it after seeing a beautiful Art Photograph by an anonymous photographer on the facebook timeline of my facebook friend Pervaiz Malik.