KARACHI: Eminent poet Rasa Chughtai died from some heart ailment at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre on Friday night, the president of the Arts Council, Karachi, told Dawn. He was 89.

His funeral prayers will be held at Taj Masjid, I Area, Kor­angi No 5, after Zuhar prayers on Saturday.

Rasa was born in 1928 as Mirza Mohtashim Ali Baig in Sawai Madhupur district of the Indian state of Rajasthan. He was stuck in an Indian camp in 1950 and arrived in Karachi several months later — in 1951 — because of the volatile situation both in India and Pakistan.

After migrating to Pakistan he got a job in the Treasury department. He opted for early retirement in 1977 and joined daily Hurriyat, where he worked till 1989.

In an interview with this writer in 2008, he admitted that he did not want to leave India. “I had become an alcoholic. My parents were deeply religious and I didn’t want to embarrass them any longer. I even told my wife that she was free to decide whether she could get along with me and my addiction,” he said. In other words, he could part with anything in the world but alcohol.

Writing mostly in short metres and simple Urdu, Rasa was one of the most popular poets of Karachi. The major part of his poetry comprises ghazals, gham-i-rozgar (the anguish of life) and gham-i-yaar (the pangs of love).

In his youth he composed highly emotive verses such as: Kaun dil ki zuban samajhta hai/ Dil magar yeh kahan samajhta hai; Tere aanay ka intizar raha/ Umr bhar mausam-i-bahar raha. And his most-quoted couplet: Sirf maneh thee haya banday quba khulnay talak/ Phir tau woh jan-i-haya aisa khula, aisa khula.

Published in Dawn, January 6th, 2018

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