Saturday, November 01, 2008

Verse for Humanity in the Times of Terrorism

Lately I have been posting less poetry on this blog. Going through a collection of verses, I had recently stopped at this Nazm. The language is simple and the poem has barely six lines.

In English, these lines may at first glance seem too ordinary. But for a poet like Fazal Tabish, who is known for his complex poetry, it is an unusual verse. Specially for a writer who considered humanism as supreme ideology, there must have been some reason that he chose to write these six lines, which is neither in the traditional format of ghazal nor the rhyming Nazm, which he was immensely capable of.

nahi chuni maiNne ye zamin jo vatan Thahri
nahi chunaa maniNne voh ghar jo khaandaan banaa
nahi chunaa maiNne voh mazhab jo mujhe bakhsha gayaa
nahi chuni maiNne vo zabaaN jismeN maaN ne bolnaa sikhaaya
aur ab maiN in sab ke liye tayyar huN
maarne, marne par

Fazal Tabish

I didn’t choose the country where I was born
I didn’t select my family, my clan
I was given no option to decide upon my religion
And I didn’t choose my mother tongue either
But for all of them I am ready
To kill...

Read this Nazm in Urdu and Hindi scripts.
Why did he write it in the first place. He could express the feeling in umpteen ways. Yet the divan ends with this prose-poem. He passed away long back. Though communalism, regionalism and casteism had begun gripping the nation, those were still the times when everything was not lost.

Fazal uses no flowery language here. May be it is because he had seen that the so-called educated, the learned, the ones who can play with the words and decipher complex poetry, are capable of greater damage by twisting words.

Perhaps, he felt that there will be times when even the simplest of questions will become the hardest to answer. In his divan, 'Roshni kis jagah se kaali hai', it is the last Nazm that has no title.
Read more of his ghazals.