HYDERABAD: Speaking at the 279th urs of Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai, noted writers discussed his unique style of poetry and resistance by each character in his verses.

The urs celebration was held in the newly-conserved Besant Hall Cultural Centre the other day.

An analyst and intellectual, Jami Chandio, said that Bhitai had taken everything as character in his poetry and added that his characters like ‘Marui’ indicated the element of resistance. Jami was discussing a book of Shabnam Virmani I saw Myself – Journey with Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai.

Shabnam’s movie “How Can I forget? The Legends of Marui” was also screened at the programme.

Jami praised the author on having written the book during her field visits in Rajasthan with Kabir Pantis where she encouraged Abdul Aziz Jutt and his group of ‘Shah Jo Raag Faqirs’. He believed that the book merited to be placed as a classic on Latif.

He said Latif’s sur ‘Marui’ was both a dialogue and a monologue and added that Latif had taken everything as ‘character’ in his poetry. He said Latif had recreated the characters of folklore who had been there for centuries. He said that he had used every character as a symbol and idea for his poetry. He stated Bhitai had then aligned those characters with his ideology and thought of poetry.

He maintained that his ‘sur’ could not be discussed on the touchstone of any particular subject and that’s why any new explanation of the Latif’s poetry could never be the last. He said that his sur ‘Marui’ had different dimensions – Marui’s people, her village and her beloved.

He said she had resisted everything she did not subscribe to, adding that Marui had synchronised her existence with Malir, her people and her beloved. He said she emerged as a strong and great lady who did not compromise with her existence.

Jami said that while he himself agreed with Shabanam, but he disagreed with some points of her book as well.

Dr Sahar Gul Bhatti discussed what she described as Marui’s denial to the king who had kidnapped her and offered all perks and privileges as well as luxuries of life while expressing his affection for her. Bhatti said Marui’s denial was interesting, but it was not discussed. Mauri had told the king that he could not win her heart ‘by force’ just because he was a king. She said that Marui’s made it clear that she could not be kidnapped by the king of the time just for the fact that he expressed his love to her.

She said that then Marui compared the king’s palace with her village’ hut. She said Bhitai had dealt each character’s pain with grace, otherwise, those folk stories were centuries old. He had dealt with them in a unique and graceful way.

Dr Sahar said Bhitai had produced a narrative that a downtrodden woman could say ‘no’ to anyone and added that she exercised her right, otherwise, it was almost impossible to resist ‘luxuries’. She said her refusal was strong and dominating.

Prof Pervez Solangi touched on salient features of the book and his research on Bhitai.

The discussion was followed by a recital of ‘wai’ by Faheem Allan Faqir and other sufi singers, called Shah Jo Raag Faqirs, who recited zikr and prayers for Sindh and its people who are in distress due to rain and floods.

Published in Dawn, September 19th, 2022

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