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Poet Saqi Faruqui dies

January 20, 2018

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SAQI Faruqui
SAQI Faruqui

KARACHI: Renowned Urdu poet Saqi Faruqui passed away in London on Friday after a long illness. He was 81.

He is survived by a daughter.

Faruqui was born on Dec 21, 1936 in Gorakhpur, India. In 1952, his family migrated to East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and a few years later shifted to Karachi. Here he did his BA and became the editor of a monthly magazine Nawai-i-Karachi. Later, he went to England where he settled for good.

Faruqui was a prolific poet who was known for his aggressive attitude both towards life and literary appreciation. He published several collections of ghazals and nazms, the first of which was Piyas Ka Sehra. The book was an instant hit and earned him a distinct position in literary circles. Some of his other books are: Radaar, Surkh Gulab Aur Badr-i-Munir, Behram Ki Wapsi, Ghazal Hai Shart and Zindah Pani Sacha (complete works with published and unpublished poems). The book A Listening Game was a translation of his poems by Frances Pritchett, selected by Shamsur Rehman Faruqi.

Talking to Dawn, poet Iftikhar Arif said, “All through his life, he avoided using clichés. He was the most representative of our modern poets, N.M. Rashid and Majeed Amjad included. Though his ghazal was no less unique, it was in the genre of nazm that he neither had a predecessor nor a successor. He was well-versed in western literature as well and was influenced by Ted Hughes’s animal poetry. He wrote poems on turtles, dogs and rabbits and they were all very serious poems replete with sarcasm. No other poet is parallel to him.

“Saqi also dabbled in making paintings. He made abstract paintings. As for his aggressive critical essays go, they need a serious reading. He was aggressive in attitude even in his writings,” Arif said.

About Faruqui’s humour and wit, poet Amjad Islam Amjad said: “He was one of our immediate seniors, but the kind of affection that he showed towards us didn’t make us feel that he was a senior. He had this peculiar sense of humour and wit. I still remember that when my daughter got married, he phoned her, congratulated her but added that he was a better poet than her father. The last time I went to England I wanted to see him, but since he had been unwell for a long time, he said he didn’t want his friends to see him in that condition and would rather like them to remember his face the way they were accustomed to seeing.

“Saqi burst on to the literary scene in the late ‘60s and had contemporaries such as Nasir Kazmi, Munir Niazi, Mushtaq Ahmed and Jamiluddin Aali, yet he was able to have his own distinct identity as a poet, especially in ghazal writing,” Amjad said.

The following is one of Saqi Faruqui’s verses:

Main terey zulm dikhata hun apna matam kerney ke liyey

Meri aankhon mein aansu aaey teri aankhein nam kerne liyey

[I expose your tyranny to wail about my state of being I got teary-eyed so that your eyes well up]

Published in Dawn, January 20th, 2018