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For the love of Muzzaffargarh

September 14, 2017

KARACHI: Speakers highlighted the salient features of poet and researcher Zareef Ahsan’s six books at an event held at the Arts Council on Tuesday evening.

Prof Sahar Ansari, who presided over the programme, said the fact that Ahsan had written quite a few books of poetry and prose meant that he did not choose a single direction to move in but worked hard in multiple genres. Today the tradition of tazkirah nigari (biographical memoirs) was on the wane, and Ahsan should be acknowledged for writing tazkirahs in verse of individuals belonging to a variety of spheres of life from Muzzaffargarh — the city of his birth.

Prof Ansari said he had known Ahsan from the time when the poet was a young man. He had always felt that he had a restless soul (rooh-i-muztarib) that wanted to do something, unlike today’s youth that did not have that trait.

Talking about the poet’s love for Muzzaffargarh, Prof Ansari said sometimes a writer brought a particular area into prominence. Alipur was also part of that region and an eminent writer Mumtaz Mufti had given Alipur a place in literature by writing Alipur Ka Aili. And in the same Alipur, Ahsan set up a library named after poet Aziz Hamid Madani, someone he admired. Ahsan in his writings, without any prejudices, had touched upon the services rendered by Hindu and Christian communities to Muzzaffargarh. Prof Ansari also congratulated Ahsan’s wife for co-authoring a book titled Hamarey Umrey with her husband.

Dr Pirzada Qasim said Ahsan had made his presence felt in the contemporary literary scene. He very seriously worked towards it. He knew how to keep himself busy with work related to literature, which was the reason that no less than six books of his were being launched, including poetry collections, their Seraiki and Punjabi translations and collections of Hamd and Naat. He did research work as well. For example, in one sense he had compiled the literary history of Muzzaffargarh.

Dr Qasim said it should be looked into as to what made Ahsan the kind of person that he was. In him, there was the urge and restlessness to do something. Returning to the topic of research, he said Ahsan listed all those poets who used Zareef as their pen name. As far as his poetry was concerned, six more of his collections were being compiled for publication.

Dr Qasim also read some of the verses written by Ahsan:

Ab samandar bhi aik qatra hai

Is qadar tashnagi na thi pehley

[I have never been thirstier in my life The ocean seems like a droplet]

Two more lines:

Din mein sadkon se rizq chunte hain

Raat aaey to khwab bunte hain

[We pick food off streets in the daytime At night, we weave dreams]

Zareef Ahsan gave an account of his family history. He said his ancestors travelled from Ghazni to Kabul, and from there to Rampur and Gwalior to Bhopal. When partition of the subcontinent took place, the family came to Muzzaffargarh where he was born in 1954. Although they left the city after three years, he developed a life-long association with it.

Safdar Ali Insha, Auj-i-Kamal and Qadir Bux Soomro also spoke. Rashid Noor anchored the event. The six books under discussion were: Urdu shaeri ke farogh mein Muzzaffargarh ke shu’ra ka kirdar, Muzzaffargarh hai shah para, Hamarey Umrey, Main Makkah bhi hoon main Madinah bhi hoon, Mausam mausam milde haasey and Mausam mausam mildey saan.

Published in Dawn, September 14th, 2017