KARACHI: Despite the distracting ear-splitting sounds coming from outside of the Karachi Press Club, friends and admirers of journalist, poet and musician Musadiq Sanwal gathered and shared their memories of the late Sanwal at the launch of his poetic verses Yeh Natamaam Si Ik Zindagi Jo Guzri Hai and a music CD at the club on Saturday.
Musadiq Sanwal, former editor of Dawn.com, died after a long battle with cancer in Jan 2014.
Poet Harris Khalique first recited Sanwal’s poem ‘Koi Gham Nahin’, after which he briefly spoke on his life and work. He called him ‘Renaissance Man’. He said the fact that he was familiar with many languages enriched his expression as a creative person. He said that apart from tenderness and compassion, his poems carried an element of irony.
Writer Asif Farrukhi read out a paper titled ‘Natamam Zindagi Mukammal Kitab’. He said he and Sanwal had common friends. He first got to know of him when Sanwal was involved with a theatre group. He was a deep thinker and man of action (amal ka dildada), he said. He pointed out that his poetry had two streams: one was influenced by Faiz Ahmed Faiz and the other by N. M. Rashed.
He rounded off his speech by reciting Sanwal’s poem ‘Janab-i-Wajdan’.
Sheema Kermani said she met Sanwal in 1991 for the first time when both were doing stage plays. On his singing ability, she said he had a voice which did not need a microphone.
Zaheer Kidvai reminisced about the days when Sanwal used to visit him in his office and sing songs in his distinct style. In that regard he mentioned his rendition of Mirza Sahiban which, he said, brought tears to a couple of listeners’ eyes.
Writer Mohammed Hanif began his speech by referring to the voices emanating from outside of the club’s premises unsettling the launch’s proceedings. He said had Sanwal been alive he’d have asked what those people wanted. Tinged with sarcasm, he remarked that there was no one in the audience whose voice could drown out the voices of those who were holding a rally.
Mr Hanif said he had known Sanwal since the time when both were not married. Sanwal was of the view that every person should be familiar with art (any of its genres), and if that were possible, the world would have been a better place to live in, he said. He told that attendees that Sanwal’s music was available on Soundcloud.
Arshad Mahmud said music was the common interest between him and Sanwal. He’s in love with it, so was the late poet and musician. Mahmud also presented, through students of the National Academy of Performing Arts, a musical composition of his that he set to one of Sanwal’s poems.
CEO of the Dawn Group of Newspapers Hameed Haroon said it was both a celebration and commemorative meeting for which Sanwal’s friends had gathered. He said Sanwal’s life should be celebrated for his ideals, music, verse and singular clarity of thought for the propagation of culture in this country. He recalled the time when Sanwal had spoken on Madame Noor Jehan on City FM 89. He said the late artist belonged to that passionate young generation of Punjab of the 1980s and ‘90s which was influenced by Noor Jehan. Calling him a man of integrity, he also touched upon his career as a journalist where he was able to “inspire his team”. He lauded Sanwal’s wife, Shehla, for keeping her husband’s sacred flame alive”.
Shehla said the occasion was a celebration. She said apart from his published work, there were many other works, including pieces for theatre, that he had written. She generously offered that whoever wanted to use them could do that. She said Sanwal never talked about his illness or death. He was busy editing his material even the night he was admitted to hospital for the last time.
Wusutullah Khan conducted the programme which was interspersed with Sanwal’s poems and songs in his own voice.
Published in Dawn, December 20th, 2015