Mushtaq Ahmed Yousufi's last published work Mirages of the Mind traces an arc of nostalgia between Pakistan and India. Its main characters-Indian Muslim immigrants to Pakistan-reminisce about and long for an impossible return to their pre-Partition life in India. The book's lightly fi... ctionalized anecdotes, both humorous and poignantly sad, form a treasure trove of the arcana and subtle differences of twentieth-century Muslim life in the subcontinent. A cultural memoir, multi-layered biography, and anecdotal chain, Mirages of the Mind chronicles a milieu that has all but disappeared. Its narratives portray the hardships, heartbreak, and humour of colonial north-Indian Muslim life and its subsequent forms in post-colonial India and Pakistan. The book's central character Basharat serves the role of a wise fool-equally ridiculous and full of penetrating, bizarre sense. Basharat's tales about his friends paint a rare, and perhaps the last, authentic picture of the literary and cultural life of South Asia's Urdu speakers. The first Urdu anthologies recalled the lives of poets exclusively in anecdotes. With Mirages of the Mind, Mushtaq Ahmed Yousufi rekindles this form and briefly illuminates the beauty of a culture that is fast receding into the darkness of the past.
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