By Siraj Wahab
Published in Arab News on Sunday, April 13, 2008
It was a night to remember for hundreds of Urdu lovers who packed the International Indian School auditorium in Jeddah on Thursday for a grand "mushaira" or poetry-reading session organized by the Khak-e-Taiba Trust.
In attendance at the well-organized event were some of the best names in Urdu poetry from India such as Waseem Barelwi, Azhar Inayati, Taher Faraz, Raees Ansari, Jalil Nizami, Asrar Jamae and Johar Kanpuri. They provided the audience with a veritable feast of couplets that are sure to remain in their hearts and on their lips for some time to come.
In their beautifully crafted lines, the visiting poets talked not only of love, which is what Urdu poetry essentially is all about, but also of war, of pathos and poverty, of cultural decadence and the pangs of separation, of riots and politics and even of the so-called clash between East and West. The poets omitted nothing of concern to an average Indian and Pakistani expatriate in the audience for whom life away from home is a constant struggle and an everyday challenge.
Many eyes, therefore, went moist when one particular poet, Taher Faraz, took the audience on an emotional journey recalling all the good memories associated with one's mother or "maayi" as he called her. In his lines, Faraz tried successfully to convey how she would wait in freezing cold for her son to return home in the middle of the night, and how on other occasions she would scold him one moment and envelop him in the warmth of her bosom the next and how she would treat him to sweets wrapped neatly for him in the folds of her "sari".
It was seasoned poet Azhar Inayati who took the "mushaira" to a new level with many exquisite couplets. The ones that particularly found great favor among the audience were:
Ye Aur Baat Ke Andhi Hamare Bas Me Nahi
Magar Charaag Jalana To Ikhtiyar Me Hai
Khudkushi Ke Liye Thoda Sa Ye Kaafi Hai Magar
Zinda Rehne Ko Bahot Zehr Piya Jaata Hai
Is Aadmi Ne Bahot Qehqahen Lagaye Hain
Ye Aadmi Jo Larazta Hai Muskurate Huwe
Isi Liye Ke Kahin Unka Qad Na Ghat Jaaye
Salaam Ko Bhi Wo Darte Hain Haat Uthate Huwe
Huwa Ujala To Hum Unke Naam Bhool Gaye
Jo Bujh Gaye Hain Charagon Ki Lau Badhate Huwe.
Inayati then launched into a ghazal dealing with the traditional values of the East and how they are under attack today:
Jab Tak Safaid Andhi Ke Jhonke Chale Na The
Tehzeeb Ke Darakht Bhi Itne Gire Na The
Pehle Bhi Log Milte The Lekin Ta'aluqaat
Angdayi Ki Tarah To Kabhi Toot-Te Na The;
Unke Ke Bhi Apne Khwab The Apni Zarooraten
Haumsaaye Ka Magar Wo Gala Kaat-Te Na The
Pakke Gharon Ne Neend Bhi Aankhon Ki Chheen Li
Kacche Gharon Mein Raat Ko Hum Jaag-Te Na The
Rehte The Daastanon Ke Maahol Me Magar
Kya Log The Ke Jhoot Kabhi Bolte Na The
Inayati was fantastic, but Taher Faraz was the hero of the night. He kept the audience spellbound with his beautiful poetry rendered in a style suggestively reminiscent of the legendary exponent of classical ghazal, Khumar Barabankvi.
Baandh Rakha Hai Zehn Mein Jo Khayal
Usme Tarmeem Kyun Nahi Karte
Besabab Uljhanon Me Rehte Ho
Mujh Ko Tasleem Kyun Nahi Karte
Zindagi Ka Lamha Lamha Motabar Kar Dijiye
Aap Apne Gham Ko Mera Humsafar Kar Dijiye
Aap Bhi Makhmoor Hain Main Bhi Thakan Se Choor Hoon
Aisa Kije Mera Qissa Mukhtasar Kar Dijiye
Zindagi Ke Khushk Sehra Mein Bahar Aa Jayegi
Apne Ashkon Se Mere Kandhe Ko Tar Kar Dijiye
Raees Ansari, who conducted the mushaira, tackled some interesting issues in his couplets. For instance:
Dar-o-Deewar Sukhan Karne Lage Hain Humse
Ab Tere Shehr Se Hijrat Bhi Nahi Kar Sakte
Itne Majboor Hain Is Ahd Ke Budhe Maan Baap
Apne Bachchon Ko Nasihat Bhi Nahi Kar Sakte
Neza Nahi Badla, Koyee Khanjar Nahi Badla
Qaatil To Badalte Rahe, Ye Sar Nahi Badla
Pehle Ki Tarah Aaj Bhi Ghar Jalte Hain Mere
Sarkar Badalne Se Bhi Manzar Nahi Badla
Mumkin Hai Kabhi Dhoondne Aa Jaaye Wo Mujhko
Maine Isee Ummeed Pe Ye Ghar Nahi Badla
Johar Kanpuri tried in his own way to explain how Islam had nothing to do with those who mistreat women.
Uska Islam Se Rishta To Nahin Ho Sakta
Jisne Aurat Pe Sitam Dha Ke Qayamat Ki Hai
Chauda Sau Saal Ki Taareekh Utha Kar Dekho
Humne Jango Me Bhi Aurat Ki Hifazat Ki Hai
Asrar Jamae provided welcome relief with his lighter lines. There were howls of laughter when he said:
Begum Ne Ek Din Kaha Naukar Ko Badtameez
Usne Diya Jawab Ke Kamtar Nahi Hun Main
Madam, Zara Tameez Se Batein Kiya Karen
Naukar Hoon Aapka, Koyee Shauhar Nahi Hoon Main
Qatar-based Jalil Nizami's two couplets found particular favor with the audience:
Mah-e-Nao Dekhne Tum Chhat Pe Na Jana Hargiz
Shehr Me Eid Ki Tareekh Badal Jayegi
Itna Saj Dhaj Ke Ayadat Ko Na Aaya Kije
Warna Kuch Soch Ke Ye Jaan Nikal Jaayegi
The first couplet is very popular but not many knew that it was by Jalil Nizami.
All good things have to come to an end and this "mushaira" too did after five hours with no break. But not before the president of the mushaira, Waseem Barelwi, recited choicest couplets in his inimitable style:
Laga Ke Dekh Le Jo Bhi Hisaab Aata Ho
Mujhe Ghata Ke Wo Ginti Men Reh Nahi Sakta
Main Chahta Bhi Yahi Tha Wo Bewafa Nikle
Use Samajhne Ka Koyee To Silsila Nikle
Earlier, Indian Consul General Ausaf Sayeed, who was the chief guest, congratulated the Khak-e-Taiba Trust for the excellent "mushaira" and announced that the Indian Consulate would organize a World Urdu Conference in the first week of June. He called Urdu a language of love.
The poets were introduced to the audience by Aleem Khan Falki. Afsar Faheem, the trust president, and Shameem Kausar, its chief patron, thanked the community for all the help it extended in supporting the caravan of Urdu in Saudi Arabia. Sheikh Ahmad Al-Hamrani came in for special praise for his support to the event.