One peculiar aspect of A. Hameed’s work was his suspense and adventure fiction. He wrote dozens of thrilling novels packed with supernatural, haunted places, trapped or wandering spirits, sorcerers, magic, secret agents, commandos on missions against Israel and India and heroes scaling the length and breadth of earth. Such fiction may not have any literary standing but nevertheless it was extremely popular with young readers and made A. Hameed , the favorite writer of a whole generation.

In early 1990s, television producer Hafeez Tahir had a fascinating idea for a television serial for children. The problem was that no writer was willing to write a fantasy play for children. When he discussed the idea with A. Hameed , the latter was absolutely thrilled and expressed his willingness to write. The child inside A. Hameed made him write hundreds of episodes of Ainak Wala Jinn (Bespectacled Genie), the most spectacularly popular children’s show in the history of Pakistan. Childhood in 1990s was just not complete without Ainak Wala Jinn. The whole country remained glued to television screens when it was telecasted. It was a fascinating story of a child who becomes friends with a genie. There were djinns, sorcerers, witches, evil and good spirits and even an old hag of a granny of all djinns. Its characters Charlie Mamoo, Nastoor, Zakoota Jinn, Bill Batori and Hamoon Jadugar became household names. This phenomenal show made a permanent place in public memory. It ran on Pakistan Television for three years between 1993 and 1996. Since then it has been repeatedly telecasted. More than two decades later, its characters, dialogues and punch lines are still popular.

After retiring from Radio Pakistan with no pension or retirement benefits, A. Hameed could not think of doing anything for living except writing. Kishwar Naheed once wrote that in her whole life she has seen no other writer running his household solely with the royalty of his writings. She also added that A. Hameed writes romantic stories in the morning, takes rest after lunch, spends some time with his family and children in the afternoon and writes suspense and adventurous fiction till late night. A. Hameed was also awarded the Pride of Performance, one of Pakistan’s most prestigious civilian awards.

For decades, A. Hameed had a complete page of Nawai Waqt’s Sunday magazine to himself. The column was beautifully named Baarish, Samavaar, Khushbu (Rain, Samovar and Fragrance). A small illustration of the title also appeared on the page. Over the years, he wrote romantic novels, adventure fiction, travelogue and memoirs on Baarish Samavaar Khushbu. Perhaps his greatest contributions to Urdu literature were his extensive writings on the culture and traditions of old Lahore and the golden age of Urdu literature . A. Hameed was a first hand witness of the literary world of Urdu for more than half a century. He had seen the rise of Faiz and fall of Manto with his own eyes. Literary giants like Sahir Ludheyanvi, Munir Niazi, Ahmad Rahi, Ashfaq Ahmad, Ibne Insha and Nasir Kazmi were among his closest friends. He had been a part of the historic years of Pak Tea House. A. Hameed started writing his memoirs, without a structure or format in 2003. For some years to come, Baarish Samavaar Khushbu sang songs of a beautiful past and recalled a long lost world which was made of beautiful, creative people. An extensive nostalgic literature was created in just a few years. A. Hameed put his heart into remembering days gone by. In his characteristic romantic style, he gave away a wealth of authentic information in his essays. No one has so extensively documented life and times of so many Urdu writers and poets and memoirs of the literary world other than A. Hameed . Selected essays have been compiled in different volumes and even translated in English, but a major part of his memoirs has not been published in book form and exists only in the archives of Nawai Waqt.

A. Hameed with wife Rehana

A Hameed’s final years were difficult. It is said that he used to write twelve hours a day. His fingers had been disfigured from writing so much. In his final days, he couldn’t lie down on his bed and used to sleep on the chair instead. When he was able to finish a book in a few months, all he earned were a few thousand rupees. However, financial difficulties couldn’t make him a miserable man. Money was never important in his life. He believed in living a most natural life. His needs were very simple and few. He used to eat very little. His beloved wife Rehana was by his side. She was a true soul mate. She not only understood but was madly in love with the romantic inside her husband. She used to make him tea the way he liked it. Tea was one of the dearest things in A. Hameed’s life. In early summer days, Rehana would collect Arabian jasmine from the garden and put them in a plate in his room. In autumn, she would pick up a dry leaf from the courtyard and place it on top of the papers on his writing desk. His greatest wealth was his dreams. He could still dream and that was all that mattered to him and his wife.

A Hameed’s health started deteriorating slowly. He appeared fine but his lungs were giving away. In February 2011, he was admitted to Jinnah Hospital, Lahore for treatment. His condition kept worsening until he had to be taken under intensive care. He was given life support when his lungs stopped working. For more than a month, he lay unconscious in the intensive care before passing away in the early hours of 29th April 2011. Sadly, the news of his death was overshadowed by the royal wedding celebrations of Prince William and Kate Middleton, the future Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.        

Illustration of Baarish Samavaar Khushbu

A Hameed was not just a writer. This one man was a school of thought in himself. His soul was made of beauty and love. It found its expression in literature. He was a natural story teller. To him there was nothing worth noticing in life but beauty. Even when life wasn’t fair, he wrote about its beauty. He taught his readers how to feel, to dream, to have an eye for beauty, to find meaning in little things, to appreciate the abundant but ignored beauty of nature at our disposal and last but not the least to be human.

“To live in a hut and dream is better than living in palaces and having nothing to dream of”, he wrote on Mustansar Hussain Tarar’s autograph book back in 1956.

Continued….