KARACHI, Sept 7: It was one of those rare events when poetry aficionados get to hear quality poems and intellectually stimulating discussions in one programme. The occasion was a tribute to distinguished poet Dr Pirzada Qasim Raza Siddiqi organised by the Anjuman Taraqqi-i-Urdu at its office in Gulshan-i-Iqbal on Saturday.
The audience listened with rapt attention to Dr Qasim’s nazms and ghazals preceded by a brief talk on his thoughts on literature and society.
Dr Qasim began by lauding the organisers for bringing together a stellar group of literature lovers under one roof. He said the Anjuman was doing a commendable job for the cause of the Urdu language, because Urdu was one of the very few things that signified national harmony (qaumi yakjehti). He said Urdu was our need (zaroorat) and we should do everything in our capacity to preserve and promote it. He said there was a time when versatility in people (for example, an engineer or doctor’s penchant for literature) was appreciated. Today one-dimensionality had crept into our lives. He argued positive values in society were transferred through people, not via courier services. “We should realise the importance of projecting our soft image that could be achieved through literature, culture and language.” Throughout his literary career, he added, he had tried to keep himself connected with people and that was why they were the epicentre of his poetry.
Dr Qasim then recited his poems. He started off with a hamd and followed it up with two nazms — Lamha and Ishq Kahani. The first ghazal, which was very well received, he presented was:
Ye merey loag hain, maeri faza hai, main nahin hun
Agar ye sub hain to kis ne kaha hai main nahin hun
(These are my people, my environment, not me
If that’s true then who doubts my existence?)
Two couplets from another high-quality ghazal:
Ik naey khwab ki sarshaari thi jab aankh khuli
Hua maaloom ke baidaari thi jab aankh khuli
(It was the joy of a new dream when I woke up
Then I realised I had already been awake)
Wohi bistar, wohi main aur wohi bikhrey huay khwab
Bahami rasm-i-azadaari thi jab aankh khuli
(The same bed, me, and the same scattered dreams
It’s a collective act of mourning when I woke up)
Prior to that, Dr Shadab Ehsani said he had never seen a more cultured and thinking person than Dr Qasim. One could talk with him on any subject under the sun. Dr Ehsani said Dr Qasim reminded him of Mir Dard. Also, he added, he had great command over the technical side of poetry.
Dr Fatima Hasan touched on Dr Qasim’s reticent nature and commented that the poet’s silence became his voice in his poems. She said three words — beauty (husn), exquisiteness (nafasat) and etiquette (saleeqa) — defined both his poetry and personality. She said memory (yaad), oil lamp (chiragh) and darkness (teeragi) were the major metaphors that Dr Qasim employed in his ghazals. She said his poems were not traditional but they had conscious linkages with tradition.
Prof Raees Alvi said he had known Dr Qasim from the time both were students at Karachi University. He remarked that lucky were those verse-wielders whose couplets had become proverbial; and Dr Qasim was one of them.
Poet Sarshar Siddiqi said he was one of those persons who had praised Dr Qasim even half a century back. Referring to an earlier speaker’s argument, he lamented that after Dr Farman Fetehpuri’s demise there’s no one who could replace him.
Aftab Ahmed Khan presided over the event, while Javed Manzar conducted the proceedings.