Is newspaper column an art or science? Probably a column doesn’t fall in either of these two categories that have been traditionally in vogue to define diverse, though not antagonist, serious productions of the human mind. A column doesn’t qualify to be termed as some ‘serious production of the human mind’, though it has become an essential part of ‘journalistic production’ since its inception. It is hastily written in response to some newly-emerged event or daily happenings of general interest or bearing socio-political significance. So it fails to achieve the ‘autonomy’ that we are prone to attach to serious scholarly or literary writings. A column’s meaning, significance and even its life and destiny rest on the fate of those short-lived events or ephemeral matters that impel or inspire the columnist. Fortunately there have always been a few gifted people who defy general rules by setting new examples. Intizar Husain is among those few whose newspaper columns have not become redundant; their meaning and relevance seem to have surpassed the momentariness of events. His columns don’t just describe events in the context of political norms. Instead he gives his impression steeped in the insight that he had derived from his vast study of literature, culture, history and mythology of the world.
October 2017, volume 41, No XLI