Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Urdu's poet laureate Ahmad Faraz passes away

Ahmad Faraz, who was considered the greatest living poet of Urdu, is no more. The poet of 'romance & rebellion' died in Islamabad at the age of 77. He was ill for a long time but the news has come as a jolt to poetry lovers and fans of Faraz.

His name is familiar to even those who have little interest in poetry and literary. In an era, when poetry is losing its status in the society, Faraz's couplets are still recited in conversations in drawing rooms, at the pan shops in the dingy bylanes and teenagers embellish their love letters with his poetry.

Even in my early years in the school when I had no interest in Urdu poetry, I had seen girls writing his couplet on their friends' notebooks at the end of session

ab ke ham bichhde to shaayad kabhi khwaaboN mein mileN
jis tarah sukhe hue phool kitaaboN mein mileN

In teenage years, it was common to hear the couplet (incidentaly of the same ghazal):

tu khuda hai, na mera ishq farishtoN jaisaa
donoN insaaN haiN to kyuuN itne hijaaboN mein mileN

Who hasn't even heard of the famous ghazals like:

ranjish hii sahii, dil hi dukhaane ke liye aa
aa phir se mujhe chhoD ke jaane ke liye aa (Read)


sunaa hai log use aankh bhar ke dekhte hain
so uske shahar mein kuchh din Thahar ke dekhte hain....

He was in the true sense a poet of masses. But not just a poet of romance and love. A poet, whose revolution didn't stop in his divan, rather a crusader who fought against oppression, raised his voice against injustice and never shied away from taking on the establishment. During the regime of Ziaul Haq, he was arrested and had to later leave his country.

main bhi chup ho jaaunga bujhti hui shama'on ke saath
aur kuchh lamhe Thahar aye zindagi.....

We prayed the same when the rumour of his death came recently when he was admitted in a hospital in America. Lekin zindagi Thahri nahiiN. Alas!

A fighter to the core, Faraz remained the angry soul and during the Mushrarraf rule, he returned the civilian honour Hilal-e-Imtiaz to protest the removal of judges and the curbs on civil agitations.

This Pathan poet never compromised in life. Syed Ahmed Shah, who was known as Ahmed Faraz (1931-200*), had become a legend in his life time. He was fortunate that he earned not just fame but also money from his poetry, and at his own terms.

muddatein yaad rahengii ye baateN haamriyaaN....