Urdu Literature: His life`s work

Published December 6, 2009

He bows to his wife and says

Not just metaphors, the entire poetry of mine
Is set aside when she is present

This is a somewhat unusual dedication of Sulagtay Khaab, the first collection of ghazals by Haider Qureshi, an active exponent of Urdu literature living in Germany.

The 54-year old poet has published five anthologies of ghazals, nazm, and mahiya. His two collections of short stories, two collections of pen sketches, one book of inshaiya (light essays) and a travelogue of his pilgrimage to Makkah are ample proof of his being a prolific writer.

Eleven of his books along with some other writings have recently been gathered included in a literary journal titled Umre-La'haasil ka Haasil (The outcome of futile life),.

Haider Qureshi was born on January 13, 1952 in Chenab Nagar, Punjab. The Seraiki-speaking poet's favourite subject in school was Urdu. His maternal uncle, Habibullah Sadique, is also a poet and while growing up Qureshi was greatly impressed by his melodious voice.

By the time he was a student of class IX, Qureshi started writing his own verses.

Soon after matriculation in 1968 he wrote his first romantic story. At the time he was also working at a sugar mill.

Later he earned a Masters degree in Urdu. He wrote his first ghazal in 1971 which appeared in Weekly, Lahore, some time in 1972. He participated in his first mushaaira in 1974, under the auspices of Bazm-i-Fareed, Khan-pur.

He later laid the foundation stone of Halqa-i-Arbab-i-Zauqu-i-Khanpur with Nazr Khaleeque, A.K. Majed and Jameel Mohsin.

Besides playing a dynamic role in regional literary activities he also participated actively in the Anjuman Insedaad-i-Shoara, Khanpur to unmask fake poets. He is still a deadly enemy of pseudo-poets.

In 1978 he launched a literary journal called Jadeed Adab at the cost of his wife's ornaments which he sold one after another and continued the magazine until the last of the jewels went to the goldsmith.

However, he revived the journal from Germany after a lapse of several years.

A strong supporter of Urdu mahiya, Haider has gained not only friendship, but also enmity for his extraordinary efforts in the area.

He is the pioneer of the mahiya on correct meter movement. To my surprise, he asked me to write an article in English on the history of Urdu mahiya.

With his full support, I was able to pen an article titled Mahiya - Language of Love which was published in the daily Dawn of April 25, 2004.

Haider's poetry is a rich blend of traditional Urdu and the local lingo. In it one can find numerous examples of 'linguistic liberty'.

He is perhaps the only living poet who deliberately uses an old Punjabi dialect in Urdu ghazal.

Not only my dreams are left virgin,

but your wishes too,

remain unfulfilled

He believes in Roe'be-Husn, the stunning impact of beauty

I have no courage to look at her directly
Better gaze at her while
she is lost in herself

The poet is well aware of the fact that notoriety is the fate of love

How tables have been turned in love affairs!
We had to become nobody,

for someone had to become famous

The dream viewer does have a complaint too

Having filled my eyes with burning dreams of hers,
I was made awaken,

even in the dreams

However, he knows very well how valuable dreams are

How can I open my eyes, as I know that
All dreams get decayed when eyes are open

When we seek a new diction with the novel use of old and much repeated words, phrases and metaphors, Haider does not let us down. Here is just one example of his creativity

She tried to avoid me sometime, so I showed reluctance as well
Not a single lotus bloomed in the 'lake of modesty'

The use of simple words, avoidance of complexity and creating a unique environment are praiseworthy. Be it ghazal, nazm or mahiya, the locale is visible in most of his poetry.

He is one of the few selected Urdu poets whose poetry has been translated into Arabic. An Iraqi admirer has posted a translation of one of his poems on an Iraqi website.

Short story writing is yet another form of catharsis for Haider. He mixes the ordinary narrative style with symbolic or somewhat abstract art.

One can see a galaxy of events, personal experiences and sharp observations in his two collections. Recently an Indian writer translated his short stories into English. One hopes to see the book appearing soon.

Pen sketches are a favourite pastime, as he proves his skill in it more briskly than he does in short stories.

Meri Mohabbatein, his first anthology of pen-sketches is full of lively expressions, deep observations and bittersweet memories. He openly admits his errors and blunders wherever they peep into his writing.

Through his writing, we are able to see a true picture of the late Mirza Adeeb who once asked him to let him visit the romantic land of Cholistan and never said, 'Oh, I'm the author of Sehra Navard ke Khutoot. Don't you tell me about its magic.'

He has contributed positively to the promotion of inshaiya in Urdu. Faaslay-Qurbatein, his collection of inshaiyas is full of interesting light essays on various topics.

His careful treatment of each subject is commendable. He has also authored a book on the patron of inshaiya, Dr Wazir Agha.

Six books including a research-oriented thesis for his M.A. have been published about the works of Haider Qureshi, besides five special sections dedicated to him in esteemed literary journals. Above all, he is the greatest supporter of premier Urdu literary websites.



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