City Libraries – Jigar Muradabad Library, Paposh Nagar

Yeh Ishq nahin aasan bus itna samajh lijeye
Ek aag ka darya hai aur doob ke jaana hai

Urdu ghazal reached new heights in 18th and 19th centuries due to a constant stream of great poets like Meer, Firaq, Dagh and Hasrat. They lit up Mushairas in subcontinent and captured the imagination of masses, making Urdu Ghazal popular. Jigar Muradabadi continued that tradition in 20th century and considered to be a link between past and present of Urdu Ghazal. He was born in Muradabad in 1890 and later moved to Agra where he worked as a traveling salesman, selling optical eyewear. He had traditional training in Arabic and Farsi and he picked up poetry as a passion. Jigar chose to stay back in India after independence but visited Pakistan several times. He was awarded Sahatya Academy Award for his services to Urdu poetry. In Karachi, a road and a library was named after him. This is the somber story of library in Karachi which was dedicated to him in 1997.

Jigar Muradabad Library is in Block 5 Nazimabad and can be accessed through Paposh Nagar or Riaz uddin Ahmed road. The streets in the area get narrower as you diverge from the main road. It is located adjacent to a community park which despite being in dire condition is popular with residents of the area. We find a lot of families basking in winter sunshine on a regular working day in December. That fast disappearing art of leisurely basking in winter sunshine!

We can see the wall of library from the park which was full of political graffiti. we exit the park and reach library’s gate, which looks unwelcoming. Unsure of our steps, we enter the main hall and find two people going through Akhbar-e-Jahan. There were only few chairs and that too were broken. There was a staircase which connected two small rooms on 1st floor which were locked and had few bookshelves inside. We strike conversation with the people there who have been visiting the library primarily as a hangout place. They tell me about the dire condition of the library which has not been dusted for ages and had no water. They show me the bookshelf in the main hall which did not even have a daily newspaper.

There are two foundation stones at the entrance of the library. The library was inaugurated as ‘Baldia Karachi central library Nazimabad 5’ in 1988 and later it was renovated as ‘Jigar Muradabadi Library’ in 1997. The original design of the library is compact but aesthetically pleasing with one hall and a librarian room on ground floor and two small rooms on 1st floor for accommodating books. There are benches, lamps and several neem trees outside and it looks like that it must have been a beautiful setting when the library was inaugurated. However years of negligence gives library a desolate condition now. Benches, lamps and windows are broken and looks like that the library has not received any kind of books in a long time. Library is still open to public thanks to a librarian who manages it. We don’t find him there during our visit but I can imagine his limitations. Libraries are slowly becoming irrelevant and the whole proposition needs to be rethink-ed and re-branded. It is sort of a chicken and egg situation. Investment will come only if people take interest and people will take interest only if library is good enough. Libraries such as Jigar Muradadbad still can offer a lot to the community. Their biggest asset is the space which is becoming more valuable everyday as residential spaces around them become more congested. With more ownership and public-private partnership, these libraries can become a great communal space. Something worthy of being dedicated to a great Urdu poet.


Categories: City Libraries

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