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Renowned poetess Zehra Nigah mesmerised poetry buffs at the CD (Sukhan-i-Zehra) launch of her poetry in her own voice. —White Star

KARACHI: If you were not there, count yourself unlucky. Renowned poetess Zehra Nigah mesmerised poetry buffs for an hour or so at the CD (Sukhan-i-Zehra) launch of her poetry in her own voice at the Arts Council on Tuesday.

Prior to the poetess’ recitation of ghazals and nazms the CD, produced by Shahida Ahmed and Aziz Ahmed, was formally launched by writer Mushtaq Ahmed Yousufi.

While Shahida Ahmed shed light on the making of the CD, Dr Asif Farrukhi read out a paper on Zehra Nigah. He included a comment from writer Intizar Husain’s article on the poetess in which he had mentioned her first appearance at a Lahore mushaira in the 1950s and the instant acclaim she received despite the presence of Jigar Muradabadi in the mushaira. Dr Farrukhi touched on her mellifluous tarranum and said that her soft and gentle style of poetry was reflective of her congenial personality. Although, according to him, she initially became famous for her ghazals, with the passage of time she earned the reputation of a remarkable nazm writer with gems like Chandni Ke Phool and Mulaem Samjhotey Ki Chador. Her poems on Karachi and the 2005 earthquake that jolted Pakistan’s northern areas were indicative of the collective element in her poetry, he added.

Zehra Nigah’s brother and noted satirist, Anwar Maqsood, quipped that when he was young he thought that his maternal grandfather (who was a poet and pupil of Dagh) used to write poems for Zehra. It was when the grandfather passed away that he realised his sister was a good poet. He mentioned a mushaira held in Jacob Lines (Karachi) in which poet Jigar Muradabadi made an appearance. The public wanted to hear Zehra Nigah’s poetry even after Jigar had left the microphone. And Jigar sahib graciously allowed her to recite her poetry.

After Anwar Maqsood’s speech, Zehra Nigah was requested to read out her poems. She began with a ghazal one of whose couplets, Wohi aik wada-i-be yaqeen, wohi aik jumla-i-dil nasheen/Mujhe intizar bhi tha buhat, mujhe aitbar bhi tha buhat (That uncertain promise, that beautiful phrase/I had waited for it, I had believed in it), was particularly appreciated by the audience.

She followed it up with the nazms Virsa and Khwab-i-Firdaus-i-Bareen. The latter was a poignant and sensitive commentary on the present explosive situation in the country. Then someone from the crowd asked the poetess to recite her famous poem Jungle Ka Qanoon, and she obliged. Feeta Chalta Rehta Hai beautifully captured the essence of a society whose ills were exacerbated by the frenzy whipped up by the media. A couple of ghazals were up next.

In the end, writer Intizar Husain, who presided over the event, lauded Zehra Nigah’s creative prowess. He said it was difficult to pen poems on the kind of tumultuous happenings that had engulfed our society, but Zehra did so very well. The fact that even decades after her arrival on the literary horizon her poems sounded and read just as fresh spoke volumes for her greatness, he said.