Being a keen student of literature, I had always been fond of identifying the writer’s characteristic features displayed in their plots, characters, themes, language etc. And although initially UA had interested me through her use of diary pages, I later became inquisitive of a few recurring elements that leaves a deep trace of the mysterious writer on her work.
Writers often get their inspiration from certain events, as is evident from literature of different eras (during the 1930’s depression, world wars, Pakistan movement etc), but in case of UA, her ‘characters’ hold the prominence, even when her plots are undoubtedly beautifully woven into art pieces, with logical events and conclusions. My curiousity lies more in her characters!
There are a few recurring characters in UA’s stories, even when the circumstances that they face are not. The first one of these is the strongest of all and seems to have had an impact on UA as a real person. The first time I had come across this person was in the character of Mama Jan in ‘Lahassil’. This character has such a huge presence that it overshadows all the others in this particular story. She does not just seem to be an inspiration for her daughter’s paintings but for the writer’s story as well. “It cannot be anything but a real character only with a made up story,” is what I have always thought. Shades of the same person are visible in other characters of UA. The most prominent features of this character are that it is a strong woman, undergoes a personality change over time, an overview of her entire life is available, influences a young strong willed girl, has dominant motherly instincts, has borne pain with patience… ( Saba in Meri Zaat Zara e Benishan, Husn e Jahan in Alif, Saiqa in Thora Sa Asmaan, Aisha in Qed e Tanhai)
Another recurring character in UA’s stories is that of a younger girl. Although strong headed and confident, this girl is almost always influenced by the older recurring character. The story of this character doesn’t progress in great detail after a certain age. However of late UA seems to have developed a stronger affinity with this character as well, presenting her with deeper insights and maturer thoughts. Usually paired with this girl is a male character, having a silent or spiritual connection with the older female character. This character is more profound and realistic in his thoughts.
UA’s strength displayed in her characters has improved manifold over time. Her experiment in portraying 4 protagonists at the same time in Man o Salwa is beautifully handled. Also the portrayal of negative characteristics in numerous characters, each a justified part of the society, in ‘Thora Sa Asman’ is also an example of her mastery. In ‘Alif’ she has taken her expertise to another level of excellence by giving each and every character a personality and background that makes them all alive and not just relevant to the main plot.
Hope to read more from the writer in future and observe how she experiments with her own writing style in portraying different characters.