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KARACHI: A full moon, a discerning crowd and a cosy atmosphere provided a perfect setting for the top-notch mehfil-i-mushaira held at the Aga Khan University’s CIME courtyard on Friday night.

It was a one-of-its-kind occasion as the poets who gathered for the programme were some of the brightest names in Urdu literature, and a few of them are seldom seen participating in mushairas (poetry symposia).

Presided over by eminent poetess Zehra Nigah, the event, as per tradition, began with the (relatively) junior poets reciting their ghazals. Be it a younger versifier or a seasoned poet, the quality of the kalaam throughout the event never came down. Yes, there were moments when the daad (verbal appreciation for a verse) wasn’t forthcoming, but on the whole the daad was hearty, encouraging the poets to stay on stage for a little more than they were required to.

For example, Basir Kazmi, son of the late Nasir Kazmi, took a bit more time than expected, largely because of the cheers that he received from the audience. Among many, he read out the following two lines:

Is qadar hijr mein ki najm shumari hum ne

Jaan laite hain kahaan koi sitara kum hai

(Separation, from you, made me indulge in star-gazing, so much so that now I know which one is missing from the firmament)

Abbas Tabish read out quite a few ghazals. This verse is taken from one of them:

Ab to mil jao ke bekaar huay jaate hain

Haath chhune ke baghair, aankh ziyarat ke baghair

(Meet me, for they have been rendered useless: Hands, without touching you: eyes, without looking at you)

Sabir Zafar earned applause for his couplet:

Hamari jaan hai jaani, to jaey

Magar yeh dil ki veerani to jaey

(Even if I lose my life I must get rid of the heart’s desolateness)

Naseer Turabi’s presence in the mushaira gave an additional flavour to it. To boot, he was very well received by the audience which seemed to be familiar with his work, especially with his ghazal which was a few years back used as part of a television play’s soundtrack. He began by reading the following couplet:

Milney ki tarha mujh se woh pal bhar nahin milta

Dil uss se mila jis se muqaddar nahin milta

(We don’t meet for an instant I long for someone not fated to be mine)

Amjad Islam Amjad too was warmly greeted by poetry lovers. He read out some of his known nazms and ghazals, including the one which has the verse:

Wo merey naseeb ki baarishein, kisi aur chhat pe baras gaeen

Dil-i-be khabar meri baat sunn, usey bhool ja, usey bhool ja

(The rain that was destined to make my life verdant fell somewhere else, listen, my clueless heart, just forget her, just forget her)

Anwar Shaoor raised the level of the audience’s involvement by reciting some delightful ghazals, typical of the colloquial style that has now become his trademark:

Jab koi saath chhoot jaata hai

Aadmi toot, toot jaata hai

(When a relationship is let go of man breaks into pieces)

Dr Pirzada Qasim changed the mood of the mushaira by virtue of his rather cerebral kalaam, elevating the event to a different level. Notice these two lines:

Yeh waqt saare zamaanon ka khoon chaat gaya

Magar yeh hijr, isey beet jana chahyey tha

(Time has sucked the blood out of every era and yet the pangs of separation refuse to go away)

Kishwar Naheed began with her acclaimed nazm Yeh hum gunahgar auratein. She also presented a couple of ghazals. Here’s a verse:

Apni be chahragi chhupane ko

Aaeney ko idhar udhar rakha

(To hide my facelessness I kept the mirror away)

Prof Sahar Ansari, before reciting his kalaam, acknowledged the fact that after a long time a mushaira had been organised at an educational institution. He also pointed out that the participating poets were not often seen together at a single function. He read out a few of his ghazals. An example from one of them:

Ajeeb hotay hain aadaab-i-rukhsat-i-mehfil

Ke uth ke woh bhi chala jis ka ghar na tha koi

(Strange, when a festive occasion ends even a homeless person has to bid farewell)

Finally, Zehra Nigah enabled the mushaira to reach its zenith by treating the audience to splendid pieces of poetry. She recited some of her popular poems (Jangal ka qanoon, Main bach gaee maan, Ab to kucch aisa lagta hai etc) and a few ghazals. Her opening two lines were:

Ab dekhyey to pursish-i-ahwaal bhi nahin

Aur sochyey to aisa bura haal bhi nahin

(It seems no one inquires into circumstances but if you think, it’s not that bad)

Others who took part in the event were; Ambreen Haseeb Ambar, Aqeel Abbas Jafri, Ahmed Navaid, Inam Nadeem, Safdar Siddiqui, Jawed Saba and Farhat Abbas.

Published in Dawn, March 27th, 2016