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Published in the 16-30 Jun 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Literature rescues man from murky world of crime

Sajid RasheedLife passes through vicissitudes. Opportunities knock at the door of almost every man. Some take a wise decision and make name, fame and fortune. Others miss the chance and take a wrong way altogether. 

There was every chance in Sajid Rasheed's life to become a gangster. Due to his sharp temperament people of the mohalla had abandoned him. 

A few yards away from the house of Arun Gawli, the notorious underworld king, Sajid lived in a dirty slum. Chances were that he would become a hooligan but as against the common perception he grew up to become a litterateur and social activist.

The first collection of his short stories was published under the title Ek Chhota Sa Jahannum (A Small Hell).

Speaking about his journey to becoming a writer, Sajid said, "I was harbouring a resentment within me which I turned towards literature". I made pen my weapon. His novel Ragon Mein Jami Barf (Ice in the Vein) was published at the age of 20. The novel was written against the backdrop of Emergency. It earned him the anger of his father. 

A literary meeting convened in a hotel recently to discuss about his book, Ek Chhota Sa Jahannum, was attended by about a dozen litterateurs.
Making a critical study of the novel a Birmingham-based novelist had commented, "Your prose is very good but it has all Muslim villains which appears to be a Hindi film's sad ending." Reacting to the comment Sajid had made a quick remark saying it was a baseless accusation. I was born and brought up at a time when Muslims had hold over Mumbai's underworld. Karim Lala, Haji Mastan and Dawood Ibrahim were underworld kings. Arun Gawli, Rama Naik and Babu Reshma were just pigmies. 

Sajid had the unrestricted permission to visit Mastan and Lala. In his view Mastan was a generous person while Dawood was close-fisted. 

Speaking about his days spent with Dawood, Sajid says, "We were studying in Ahmad Sailor High School in seventh standard. Dawood was a cute but naughty boy. I never thought he would one day become a don. He left the school and went into the murky world of crimes." While Sajid developed a keen interest in literature and started reading Tolstoy, Chekhov, Maupassant, Mantu and Rajendra Singh Bedi. 

In 1990 his school mates expressed the desire to have a get-together in Dubai but he refused. Besides Urdu, now he writes in Hindi also. His works have twice won him literary awards. 

Sajid also contacted Hindi film industry and television, though he maintains that the Hindi film industry is just a world of outward show. 
A man who has followed into the footsteps of a litterateur like Ali Sardar Jafri could not have a liking for Hindi films.

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