Born in 1969, Munawar Shakeel who mends people’s shoes aims at mending many people’s hearts with his writings. Munawar is a full-time cobbler (working as a cobbler for 3 decades) and a part-time newspaper seller in the small town of Rodala, located in Jaranwala, Faisalabad. However, lesser people come to him to get their shoes repaired, most of them come to listen to the verses and writings from his 5 award winning books!
Strange as it may sound, Munawar has been writing from the age of 13. His first book, Soch Samandar was published in 2004. He writes in Punjabi and all his books consist of ghazals and poetry. His poetry talks about the discrimination lower groups are subjected to, their miseries and plights.
“I want to speak for the lower classes through my poetry, and those things which cannot be said directly, I want to say them through verse.”
Innu kinne paani ditta, innu kinne boya aey
Patthar de jo seene uttey, boota ugya hoya aey
[Who watered it, who sowed it,
The plant that grew on a heart of stone]
This great poet, who lives in the shattered surroundings around him, lost his father in early childhood and was deprived of any formal education or resources. In such tough circumstances, Munawar bought a few books and taught himself to learn through reading them. Now he can not go to bed if he doesn’t read for at least 4 hours after work.
“Thus, I purchased books myself and started reading. The habit is so ingrained now that I can’t sleep if I don’t read for four hours daily after work.”
Here’s an account of Munawar’s other four published award-winning works:
Pardes Di Sangat (second book), published in 2005;
Saddiyan De Bhait (third book), published in 2009;
Jhora Dhap Gawachi Da (fourth book ), published in 2011; and
Akhaan Mitti Ho Gaiyaan (fifth book),published in 2013.
In Munwar’s family, cobbling is a family business. He saves money to get his books published.
“I make Rs250 to Rs300 daily by selling newspapers at local shops, and repairing shoes. From this money, I set aside Rs10 daily for getting my books published.”
Munawar is a member of popular literary groups including, the Royal Adabi Academy, Jaranwala and the Naqeebi Karvan-e-Adab. He has been awarded with accolades from organisations like, Ashna-e-Saandal Bar, Pakistan Writers’ Guild, and Punjabi Sevak.
He believes that a poet’s task is to understand every emotion and pain of the humanity. He writes all his books in Punjabi.
“Punjabi is the mother tongue of Punjabis, and it is their right to be taught in this language. It is the job of the government to promote Punjabi and all regional languages.”
Munawar is not ashamed of being a cobbler. His objective behind writing is purely different. He does not want fame. glory or popularity.
“There is glory in hard work. I have no shame in repairing shoes, but I want people to be more aware, and I want them to read books so we can also stand in the ranks of developed nations.”
His teacher in literature, Ghulam Mustafa Azad Naqeebi thinks, people in suburban areas have all the abilities and talents, the only thing they miss on is resources.
Munawar’s sixth book, Taanghan that consists 112 ghazals will be in the market by December, 2015.
If you wish to buy and read Munawar Shakeel’s award-winning books, you can send an e-mail at email@example.com with your name, address, and phone number.
This story is originally written by Rizwan Safdar for Dawn