I grew up in nature's lap, among the trees and birds, in Jawai, a small town near Aligarh. Then we moved to Hapur near Meerut. There I discovered the works of Noon Meem Rashid and Faiz Ahmed Faiz, and a whole new vista opened in front of me. After completing my masters in Urdu from Meerut College, I had to face the Partition. In such times, the individual ceases to matter and you have to go along with the tide. This is how I reached Lahore. Once there, I was excited about experiencing life in the 'city of the elders'--in the city of Faiz Sahib and Mukhtar Ali. I grew up among two civilisations. If on one side, there was Muharram, on the other was Ram Lila. Both these streams of culture were inextricably linked to me. So it was very difficult for me to disown one. As a student in Meerut College, there were many political influences but I always preferred to read and wanted to write about what was going on around me. I finally decided to go west when all my friends, with whom I discussed poetry, left. Once in Lahore, I began editing a literary journal called the Nizam which was initially being published from Bombay. Then I had a brief stint with the Urdu weekly, Afaq, before joining Mashriq where I put in 35 years. In the beginning, people like the great Faiz Sahib helped me get a job and Mukhtar Ali encouraged me and praised my early scribblings. Under their patronage, I blossomed as a writer.
In 1947, the Muslims of India had seen a dream of a new beginning. After half-a-century, you know that the dream has gone sour. It is extremely painful to come to terms with this fact but we have to.