ILF carried on the tradition of the Urdu mushaira by inviting around 20 poets representing both the younger generation as well as the masters of verse to recite their ghazals and nazms. The gathering was presided over by Kishwar Naheed and moderated by Shakeel Jazib. The poetry narrated was diverse both in structure as well as in content. The poets brought to life the brilliance of Urdu poetry and captivated the large audience with their couplets, ghazals, and nazms that spoke of beauty, love, peace, struggle and the purpose of life. Romantic ghazals and resistance nazms both were appreciated by the audience.
Shakeel Jazib started the mushaira off with a selection of verses from his ghazals that spoke of loyalty and betrayal in love. The verses had glimpses of melancholy as well as hope. The nostalgia of foregone moments that lovers experience was beautifully captured by Jazib thus:
“Umr bhar ki chahaton ka goshwara aik tha
hum kissi kay aik thay koi hamara aik tha
Aj baithhay kar rahay hain aik ik pal ka hisaab
woh bhi din thay jeena aur marna hamara aik tha.”
Imran Aami’s poetry was particularly well-received by the audience. He employed the traditional symbols of sleep, dreams, flowers and breeze to manifest the splendour of his beloved in a familiar yet novel way. Some of his verses are a sharp and appropriate commentary on the existing socio-religious dilemmas we are facing today.
To lighten the mood Jazib called Rehman Faris next. His ghazals represent the romantic tradition of Urdu poetry that is famous for not only admiring the beauty of the beloved but also the madness of the lover. Such as, for example:
“Ehd-i-wafa se kis liye khaa’ef ho meri jan
Kar lo keh tum nay ehd nibhana toh hai nahin
Woh jo humain azeez hai kaisa hai kaun hai
Kyoon poochhtay ho hum ne batana toh hai nahin
Woh ishq toh karay ga magar dekh bhaal ke
Faris woh teray jaisa diwana toh hai nahin.”
Asim Bakhshi has a unique style of his own. The selection of his subject and the words chosen to express his thoughts on the subject are philosophical as well as literary. In order to be able to fully appreciate his verses, the reader or listener should be well-read.
The highlight of the mushaira was poetry rendition by Fahmida Riaz. Her poem ‘Palwashe Muskura’ was written as a dedication to Palwasha Bangash, daughter of the late Mazdoor Kisan Party leader Afzal Bangash. This poem talks about the lives of revolutionary leaders and their legacy. Through this poem Riaz emphasised that the message of socialism is still relevant for the oppressed masses. Her second poem dealt with the convention in Pakistan where any poet who dies is eulogised by ascribing noble and nationalist thoughts to them. She wrote the following poem to challenge this ‘norm’ and requested her mourners not to inflict this atrocity on her:
“Yaaro bus itna karam karna
Pas-i-marg na mujh pay sitam karna
Mujhay koi sanad na ata karna deen-daari ki
Mat kehna josh-i-khitaabat mein darasal yeh aurat momin thi
Mat uthhna saabit karnay ko
mulk-o-millat say wafa-daari
Mat koshish karna apnaa lain
hukkaam kum-az-kum laash meri.”
Organising such mushairas is a great service for the promotion of Urdu poetry as these opportunities give young poets a chance to present their art to a larger audience and get acknowledgement from renowned poets and critics.