Ghulam Abbas (Urdu: غلام عباس ) was a short story writer. He was born in Amritsar, India and died in 1982 in Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan.
His short stories have a distinct style in Urdu literature. His short stories AAnandi and Overcoat earned him international fame. His fame is purely because of his literary genius. He became popular without associating himself or depending on any of the literary movement or group. Aanandi, JaaDay ki Chaandni and Kan ras are his famous books containing remarkable short stories.
What fascinated him more than any other thing was human nature and how it responds to stress and emotion and the many pangs that life subjects us all to. Most of his stories were short on action and plot because his real purpose was to reveal the inner working and evolution of the character rather than tell an exciting tale.
His influence in Urdu short story writing has been both long and deep. In his short stories he often exposes shortcomings, weaknesses and hypocrisy in human beings. But his tone is never sarcastic or venomous. He does not like affection and pretension but he never makes fun of the people having these shortcomings. Nor does he aim to bring any social revolution. His observation is keen and his knowledge of human psychology is deep. His diction is simple but effective. Jaray Ki Chandni (Moonlight in Winter) is the best known book of Gulam Abbas and contains many of his most famous stories.
He was a great admirer of the Russian short story tradition and loved the work of Chekov and Gorky. However the writer he most admired and modeled himself on was Maupassant.
His love of poetry, specially Urdu poetry was abiding and deep, but he never ventured into it himself seriously. Once he was asked why and he said that he had tried it several times privately, but was never satisfied with the quality of his work so he destroyed it without showing it to anybody. In the same way he was meticulous with his short stories. He could spend hours on a single page, culling, culling, culling, cutting, cutting, cutting. His goal was a page without even one unnecessary word or, for that matter, punctuation mark.
His family originally came from Afghanistan in the mid-19th century, as a result of political upheaval related to Dost Mohommed. They settled first in Ludhiana and then moved to Amritsar and later Lahore. He spoke several languages including Persian, Punjabi, Urdu and English. His family's tribal affiliations were with the Sadozai but he simply called himself Ghulam Abbas without adding any tribal titles or trappings.
He was a Muslim and loved his heritage, but was not an ardent practitioner of the faith. In fact he was deeply suspicious of religiosity which he regarded as a particularly dangerous form of educated ignorance. He believed in the right of people to live out their lives as they wished to so long as they did not infringe on the lives of other people. For this reason he disliked theocracy of any kind as he felt it would eventually lead to political dictatorship and intellectual darkness.
In 1967 he wrote a short story called Hotel Mohenjodaro which visualised the consequences of theocratic government as it might apply to Pakistan. The result was a tale, darker in spirit than his usual skeptical but gentle unveiling of human absurdity and pain. It visualised a society blighted and damned by obscurantism and religiosity where every creative and productive endeavour is stilted and stunted by ignorant mullahs and people live like captive fish in a stagnant and stinking pond. In 1979, with the coming to power of the mullahs in Iran the world got to see what such a state would be like. Nearer to home, the social atmosphere in Pakistan during and after the time of Zia ul Haq and the rise of religiosity that accompanied it was very close to the vision of Ghulam Abbas. One may well wonder if the story was an artistic creation, or more in the nature of a vision, a phantasmagoria from which one awakes shuddering that such things might yet be.
Ghulam Abbas was married twice. His first wife was called Zakira and he had five children with her including four daughters and a son. His second wife was an English woman named Christian (renamed Zainab) with whom he had a son and three daughters. She died on February 19, 2009 in Karachi, Pakistan. One daughter, named Mrs Mariam Shera founded the school in Pakistan, Froebel Education Centre which is located in Clifton.
His other children, all of whom are resident abroad, are mostly in Canada. His eldest son, a medical doctor, Dr. Ali Sajjad Abbas, died in 2007 in western Canada of a heart related ailment.