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Thursday, November 08, 2007

A long night and a riot of memories ...

Two nights ago I lay down and listened to some old müshaaerees - as Asghar Bhai (Reminder to myself: I need to do a Podcast on him soon!!!) and I used to call the little impromptu sessions we held at my house in the post '71 days. The following couplet from Athar Nafees's amazingly poignant ghazal seemed so relevant after having spent the day thnking about the General's latest faux-ly:

dam-ba-dam ba∂h rahee hae yeh kaesee sadaa
shahr vaalo süno

jaesay aae dabay paaooñ saelé balaa
shahr vaalo süno

I stopped the tape right there and whisked out an old vinyl of Julie Felix to hear, after a really long while, that beautifully powerful voice sing just this verse].

And then I went nuts - shunting between the protest songs of the 60s and 70s (Seeger, Dylan, Baez, Zappa, Joplin) and the Urdu poetry recitals from
Müshaeraas and Müshaaerees. I revelled in the voices of:

Aesay dastoor ko, sübhé bay-noor ko,
maeñ naheeñ jaanta, maeñ naheeñ maanta
(On Pakistan's constitution)

Jalaa ke mish'alé jaañ, ham jünooñ sifaat chalay
Jo ghar ko aag lagaaey hamaaray saath chalay

and the lilting ghazal tüm say ziyaadah that is one of his most popular pieces.

Ham to shaaer haeñ, ham sach naheeñ boltay
(A brief nazm that is also part of his commercially released album).

Maeñ raat aesay jazeeray mayñ tha jahaañ müjh ko
Har ayk talkh haqeeqat milee gümaañ ki tarah
(Along with Professor Shoor Alig's "Mayra Maahaul", this nazm tells it like it is!)

Vaheedah Naseem:
Abhee to aashiaanay jal rahay haeñ aatashé gül say
Sabaa yeh aag daaman tak teray laaee to kyaa ho ga?

(How many today recall her Ayub-defying political verses? or have even heard of her? The aatashé gül phrase is a reference to Ayub's election symbol - a Rose - and the fiery rampage his son, Gohar, created in Karachi to celebrate that dictraitor's victory ... an incident also captured inimitably by Faiz in two of his very moving pieces.)

and the two wonderful Mohsins:
[M] Bhopali:
Güzray thay isee tarah kabhee daar say khüd bhee
Daykhayñ yeh khayaal aap ko kab tak naheeñ aata

(A shayr he had addressed to Bhutto when, as Martial Law Administrator, ZAB had started arresting dissidents. Mohsin Bhai later dropped reciting this shayr, saying that the 'daar' reference made it painful after Bhutto was hanged.)

[M] Ehsan
Faqeehé Shahr nay kaaghaz ki kashtiaañ day kar
Samandaroñ ke safar par kiyaa ravaanah hamayñ

and, of course,
Faraz, reciting his superb classic, Mohaasirah:
Meray ghaneem ne müjh ko payaam bhayja hae
(Uff. Who could listen to this amazing bit of poetry then, without wanting to be part of the heroic defiance it portrayed?)

Maybe I shoud digitize some of these and provide audio links to this post soon? Is there enough interest?


Oh ... here's the opening shayr of Shoor Sahab's nazm, in case some of you are unfamiliar with the works of that radical poet:
Payambar Ahraman-zaadoñ say larzaañ haeñ jahaañ maeñ hoon
Yahaañ Laat-o-Habal kaa'bay ke darbaañ haeñ jahaañ maeñ hooñ


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Blogger Raza Rumi said...

wah wah

What a superb journey you have provided us through the high poetry of resistance!
Yes please there is much interest - please do create the audio links. That would be fantastic!

Adaab Arz hai

08 November, 2007 14:45

Blogger sabizak said...

I would love to hear them on audio. Nothing can beat the pleasure of listening to poetry

08 November, 2007 16:28

Blogger Quizman said...

Thank you for your wonderful post. Please post the audio versions.

In case, you are not aware, former AMU students have a website where they've uploaded many such audios & videos.

08 November, 2007 23:03

Blogger Quizman said...

Also, hear clips here:

08 November, 2007 23:04

Blogger Quizman said...

Hmm.. thanks for the Ayub Khan reference. I found a related Time Magazine article (circa 1965) here.

09 November, 2007 23:01

Blogger Astarte said...

Right verse at the right time and pat you can change minds as quickly as the speed of light. (A friend of mine always listens to the war songs night before exams :).

Please do upload the audio, (it's a bit difficult to read roman urdu)

All the best.

10 November, 2007 00:31

Blogger Sidhusaaheb said...

Thanks for this post!


11 November, 2007 01:41

Blogger iFaqeer said...

Posting a link on Urdu ke Naam:

11 November, 2007 15:48

Blogger Paktea said...

This is such a beautiful post with choicest verse.
We'd like to cross post it at

Please do visit this young blog-magazine.


11 November, 2007 16:29

Blogger Ben said...

am a typical product of this generation who has no cultural roots and whose only identities are borrowed ones. the worst thing is that even when people like me realize our standing, we are unable to do much about it.
its been quite some time since i have been searching for all the long gone fascinations; mushairaas, our own music, poets, writers.... all the tranquilizers for the chaos inside. but so far the only traces that i have found are websites like yours.
there's a lot that i want to say but for now i will just content myself by thanking you for existing.
this is a proof that those stories were real and not just a stroke of imagination.
will keep on coming back for more, with lots of questions and confusions. hope you will bear with me :)

13 May, 2008 19:57


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