Doctors and bad handwriting go hand in hand. Prescriptions scribbled by them can be read either by the doctor himself or the medical store guy. But, this physician begs to differ. What he writes can be read by anyone and with pleasure. The art of medicine consists in amusing the patient while nature cures the disease.
Dr Abid Moiz seems to do just this. While his diagnosis takes care of the physical ailments, his humorous writings delight patients no end. Even as he feels your pulse, he tickles a funny bone which leaves you in splits. Over the years, he has mastered the art of wielding the stethoscope and pen with equal ease. With ten books of satire and humour, and 21 books on various aspects of medicine, health and nutrition, he has contributed immensely to Urdu literature.
“By profession I am a doctor, by passion a writer and I am madly in love with my mother tongue Urdu,” he remarks.
While he earned livelihood as a nutritionist, he uses his leisure time for promotion of Urdu. Dr Moiz has every reason to smile as he takes a look at his career and passion during the last four decades. He has been successful on both fronts. His contributions to science and medicine are immense. Finding a woeful lack of literature on these subjects, he authored popular science books in Urdu. In simple and lucid style, he explains various health disorders which the common man can understand. His books on nutrition and health – Diabetes Ke Saath Saath (Along With Diabetes), Chiknai Aur Hamari Sehat (Fats and Our Health), Cholesterol Kam Kijiye (Reduce Cholesterol ), Ramzan Aur Hamari Sehat (Ramzan and Our Health), Haj and Health have gone into several reprints. For the large number of Urdu readers, these books are a ready reckoner. They explain in simple terms how to stay fit as a fiddle.
But, he chose tanz-o-mizah (satire and humour) to quench his literary thirst. Those who know him confess that he is more of a humourist than a dour-faced doctor. Apart from writing, he also shouldered the responsibility of editing Urdu journals and worked for their promotion. For nearly two decades, he served as the overseas editor of Shugoofa, the monthly humour magazine. Today, Dr Moiz is ranked among the top few Urdu satirists. He has been so successful as a writer that he is widely known by his penname, Abid Moiz. Only few are familiar with his real name – Syed Khaja Moizuddin.
A bookworm, he spent most of his time in the college library. No wonder his first article was appropriately titled Library main chand ghante. There was no looking back thereafter. His humorous write-ups were published in reputed journals and newspapers in India, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Some articles were also translated into Hindi language. Readers eagerly looked forward to his humorous columns in Shugoofa, Kitab Numa, Aaj Kal, Shadab, Rabta, Afkar, Charsu, Urdu Digest, Urdu Magazine and other journals.
Dr Moiz’s tryst with humour writing started way back in 1977 and continued up to 2010. When he took up a job in the Ministry of Health, Saudi Arabia, in 1987, he continued to indulge in his passion. He is among the few Hyderabadi writers who have contributed immensely to tanz-o-mizah in Urdu. Though a doctor by profession, he is a humorist at heart. Endowed with a fine sense of humour, he finds out funny angles in almost everything. Even his conversation is laced with wit and satire. “Urdu language is so sweet that people have stopped using it, lest they attract sugar ailment,” he remarks sarcastically to underline the declining patronage for the language.
Dr Moiz’s writings not merely tickle the funny bone but forces readers to think over the message between the lines. For instance, the article Sherwani Aur Shaadi is a good commentary on the radiant past, bleak present and hazy future – a result of moving away from language and culture. In a funny way, he ridicules the blind aping of everything western.
His story Sag Gasida is a real rib-tickler. It gives an in-depth account of the travails faced by victims of dog bites. Being a physician, Dr Moiz writes about the way his tribe question terrified victims and try to elicit information concerning the canine. He dramatises the trauma experienced by the family of a dog bite victim and the way they wait with dread for him to die – barking and crawling on all fours.
Dr Moiz has mastered the talent of weaving funny stories out of everyday events. He has written columns on such mundane things like Chai Ya Thanda, Nashta Aur Akhbar, Ghurbat ke Faide (benefits of poverty). Interestingly, his writings have kept pace with the changing times. Stories like E-Zamana and Alu Chips Se Computer Chips Tak are proof enough. Dr Moiz’s book Wahan Ki Baat is a compilation of hilarious articles written by him while working in Saudi Arabia. He beautifully captures two things eagerly awaited by expatriates in the article – Chitthi and Chhutti (letter and leave). Though one can speak on phone anytime but the pleasure of reading missives from home is quite different.
Baat hoti hai phone par laikin
Kutch alag hi maza hai chitthi main
The unique thing about the writings of Dr Moiz is that they come like a breath of fresh air. One can read them again and again without losing interest. Books like Wah Hyderabad, Arz Kiya Hai, Ye Na Thi Hamari Kismat, Baat Se Baat, Phir Chidi Baat, Urdu Hai Jis Ka Naam, Farighul Baal, and Ayee Gayee Baat pack a lot of fun.
This prolific writer now prefers to call himself a ‘retired’ tanz-o-mizahnigar – something unthinkable. Writers never hang up their pens. No, it’s not the writer’s block nor want of creative energy that is behind his decision to call it a day. It is lack of patronage from the government that has made him take this extreme step much to the shock and chagrin of readers.
The Telangana State Urdu Academy has turned down his candidature for the literary awards not once but several times. Not that awards and recognition have not come his way. Dr Moiz has bagged prestigious awards like Muhibb-e-Urdu award from Bazme Urdu, Riyadh, Nishane Imtiaz, Anjuman Froghe Science, Delhi, Nishane Azad award from Maulana Azad National Urdu University. But, sadly, his own Telangana State has ignored him.
While several of his books have run into second and third editions and published even in Pakistan, the Telangana Urdu Academy doesn’t see any merit in them. Whatever, Urdu lovers want Dr Moiz not to give up. As the great poet Mirza Ghalib says:
Na sataish ki tamanna, na siley ki parwah
Gar nahin hain merey ashaar main maani na sahi
(I care not for praise or prize If my couplets have no meaning, so be it)