The song of the reed

May 11, 2019

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HIJAZ Naqvi reads out verses from Rumi’s Naynama while (right) a calligraphic artwork in praise of the venerable Maulana.—White Star
HIJAZ Naqvi reads out verses from Rumi’s Naynama while (right) a calligraphic artwork in praise of the venerable Maulana.—White Star

KARACHI: Rumi holds a special place in the hearts and minds of poetry lovers all around the world. His Sufi disposition, though it is hard to define, doubly endeared him to his readers, particularly in the post-9/11 violence-stricken atmosphere. Another aspect of his creative soul is the melodious Persian language in which he wrote his verse. It is in this context that an event called ‘Baang-i-Nai — The Call of the Reed’ at T2F on Thursday evening assumed a great deal of significance.

The programme was divided into four parts. In the first, Hijaz Naqvi recited an excerpt from Rumi’s Masnavi in Persian and Ms Soomro, sitting next to him, read its English translation. Next up was a video showing a dialogue between Shams Tabriz and Rumi. Thirdly, Arieb Azhar sang bits from the kalaam. And then there was a delightful exhibition of calligraphic art based on the same work by artist Rashid Ali Sajjad. He had taken lines or verses from Rumi and turned the audio-textual beauty into a visual delight.

It all, however, started with renowned social activist Naeem Sadiq informing the audience, which hadn’t turned up in a number, on Rumi’s background. He said Maulana Rumi was born in Balkh in the 13th century. Later, he settled in Konya in Turkey. There he took to reading and writing poetry and became one of the greatest poets of the Sufi tradition. He is popular worldwide because his work is not meant for one particular region but belongs to the whole of humanity.

‘If you go to Turkey and not to Konya, it seems unusual’

Mr Sadiq said if you go to Turkey and not to Konya, it seems unusual. The dance that’s associated with the particular tradition (whirling dervishes) still attracts audiences. He then read out the following two lines:

Bishnu az nai chun hikayat mi kunad
Az judaeeha shikayat mi kunad
[Lend your ear to the flute, it tells a story
And wails about the pangs of separation

It made him point out that the programme was about hikayat and shikayat [of the reed getting separated from the reed bed.]

Then came Hijaz Naqvi and Ms Soomro in front of the audience and read out, in Persian and English, respectively some three dozen lines from the famous Naynama (reed’s song).

This was followed by a video of an exchange of dialogue between Rumi and Shams Tabriz. One felt that the English translation that was being done by a young lady in between the scenes by stopping the video intermittently broke the rhythm of the dramatic piece because it made the video look like a combination of abrupt sequences.

In the end, Arieb Azhar sang the Persian verses.

Published in Dawn, May 11th, 2019