During my recent visit to Pakistan, I was finally able to procure the unabridged version of Tilism Hoshruba. My brother, an avid reader and collector of all things rare, was able to order a seven-volume reprint edition for me.
Republished from the original version by Sang-e-Meel publications, these volumes are printed on very light paper and thus were easy to pack in one of my bags:) The volumes now adorn my office and are a constant reminder of the most magical part of my life as a student at Military College Jhelum (MCJ).
I read the children’s version of this epic before 8th grade and both my brother and I grew up imagining the magical world of Um’r Ayyar, his arch enemy Afrasiab and all the other magical aspects of this long and exciting tale. But it was in the boarding school, MCJ, in 9th grade that I hit the mother lode of magic: I found all seven original volumes of the Tilism in our library. I spent my entire 9th and 10th grades reading these seven volumes.
The adventures of Um’r and his supporters like the Queen Sorcerer Mah Rukh Sehr Chism and Bahar, and their opponents Afrasiyab and his queen Hairat always transported me to a world far away from the every day harsh realities of the boarding school life. While reading the epic at that time might have been a form of escape for me, the experience also gave me the habit of reading for pleasure which later transformed into reading for deep learning and understanding. So, here I am with the same old epic almost forty years after I first read it still feeling the same excitement in opening the first volume and skimming through the first few pages.
The first volume of the original Tilism is now available in English.
Musharraf Ali Farooqi, who has begun the work of translating this epic describes it as follows:
The world’s first and longest magical fantasy HOSHRUBA (1883-1893) was compiled in the Urdu language by two of its greatest prose writers. Spread over eight thousand pages, it reached the summits of popularity and acclaim never attained by any other epic in the history of Urdu literature. But the richness of its language and its length deterred translations for more than 125 years.
So, if you are a fantasy fan, please do try the translated first volume and then let us celebrate this greatest and the most magical of all epics together!!
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