Pakistani Consul General Abdul Salik Khan, center, with visiting Pakistani poets and Aalami Urdu Markaz executives in Jeddah on Thursday, March 31, 2011.
By Siraj Wahab
Published in Arab News on April 2, 2011
JEDDAH: A range of poets from Pakistan, including some of the most famous names in the Urdu world, regaled hundreds of expatriates at a mushaira (poetry recitation evening) organized by the Aalami Urdu Markaz at the Pakistan International School in Jeddah's Aziziya district on Thursday, March 31, 2011.
Such was the interest and enthusiasm among the listeners that they remained glued to their seats in the packed school auditorium throughout the five-hour event, cheering the poets and egging them on to recite more through a chorus of wah-wahs (appreciations).
This was the fourth annual mushaira conducted by a dedicated team of Pakistani expatriates in Jeddah led by Ather Nafees Abbasi and supported fully by the Pakistani Consulate.
In attendance were more than a dozen poets. It was nothing short of a treat listening to all of them but the elderly Sarshar Siddiqui, the erudite Sahar Ansari, the genius Iftekhar Arif, the romantic Peerzada Qasim, the refreshing Saleem Kausar and the soul-stirring Dr. Khurshid Rizvi were the pick of the day. Each one of them lent their magic to making the evening one of the most memorable ones. The fact that these six poets were sharing the same stage was eminently gratifying.
They weaved their delicate thoughts in words with such precision that the listeners were left astounded at the poets’ craft. Since poets have their fingers on the pulse of society and since they are the first ones to hear the beat of bruised humanity, every listener was eagerly waiting for them to translate the trials and tribulations and the fears and frustrations through their couplets. The poets did not disappoint them.
Iftekhar Arif struck the right chord among the audience. In what can be surmised as an oblique reference to the series of drone attacks along Pakistan's border with Afghanistan, he told of the helplessness of his countrymen through his lines: "Muqqadar Ho Gaya Hai Be-Dar-o-Deewar Rehna/Kaheen Tai Paa Chuka Hai Shehr Ka Mismar Rehna; Tamasha Karne Waale Aa Rahen Hain Jokh Dar Jokh/Gir-o-He Pa Ba-Jawlan Raqs Par Tayaar Rehna."
Master wordsmith that he is, Iftekhar Arif then went on about the emptiness and rootlessness that one experiences in one's own city: "Teri Shorida Mizaaji Ke Sabab Tere Nahi/Aye Mere Shehr Tere Log Bhi Ab Tere Nahi; Maine Ek Aur Bhi Mehfil Me Unhe Dekha Hai/Ye Jo Tere Nazar Aate Hain Ye Sab Tere Nahi."
Sahar Ansari is considered to be an authority in different genres of Urdu literature. Be it poetry or literary criticism, he enjoys a unique status. A highly decorated poet, he was chairman of Karachi University's Urdu Department for many decades. His couplets demonstrated why he is revered, respected and adored with such intensity by Urdu lovers. The pick being: "Sada Apni Rawish Ahl-e-Zamana Yaad Rakhte Hain/Haqeeqat Bhool Jaate Hain Fasana Yaad Rakhte Hain; Hame Andaza Rehta Hai Hamesha Dost Dushman Ka/Nishaani Yaad Rakhte Hain Nishana Yaad Rakhte Hain."
Even at 85, Sarshar Siddiqui was at his delightful best, rendering his meaningful poems in a refreshing idiom. “Doston Se Ye Mili Daad Wafadaari Ki/Tohmaten Sar Pe Liye Phirte Hain Ghaddari Ki; Sirf Ek Shaksh Tha Jisne Mera Dil Toda Tha/Maine Kyun Saare Zamaane Ki Dil Azaari Ki; Kuchh Munafiq Bhi Mere Halqa-e-Ahbaab Me The/So Maine Bhi Unse Mohabbat Ki Adakari Ki.”
Dr. Khurshid Rizvi's couplets reflected his deep insight into the human psyche and the complexities of a multilayered life. His phraseology, his idiom, his medium and his diction were all very impressive and had an air of authority. His flawless creativity was unparalleled. "Ham Ahl-e-Junu Hain Hamen Faaregh Na Samajhna/Kar Jayenge Wo Jiska Iraada Nahi Hoga; Ab Umr Ka Anjaam Hai Ab Kaaheka Dar Hai/Jo Kuch Ke Huwa Usse Ziyada Nahi Hoga."
It was very difficult to decide to whom the evening actually belonged. However, many would agree that it was Karachi University Vice Chancellor Peerzada Qasim who was the crowning glory. He kept the listeners spellbound. His mellifluous rendering of highly lyrical couplets added to the beauty of his craft. Every single couplet that he recited was worth quoting. No wonder everyone was swooning and crooning after him. And why not? "Ab Harf-e-Tammana Ko Samaa'at Na Milegi/Bechonge Agar Khwab To Qeemat Na Milegi; Lamhon Ke Taa'aqub Me Guzar Jaayengi Sadiyan/Haan Waqt To Mil Jayega Mohlat Na Milegi; Aye Aayina Sifat Waqt Tera Husn Hai Hum Log/Kal Aayine Tarsenge To Surat Na Milegi."
Peerzada Qasim also referred to the pain and pathos of his countrymen in the current state of affairs. "Duwa Yehi Hai Ke Ab Dil Shikasta Logon Ko/Dawa-e-Dil Na Sahi Dard Aashna Koyee De; Ye Log Jaagti Ankhon Se Khwab Dekhte Hain/Ab Aise Khwabon Ki Taabeer Bhi Bata Koyee De; Koyee To Doobti Kashti Ko Laaye Sahil Par/Ye Mojeza Hi Sahi Mojeza Dikha Koyee De."
Saleem Kausar, whose fame knows no limits, was an instantaneous hit as well. He recited a number of well-crafted couplets, but the ones that the audience wanted to hear were the verses that made him a household name in the Urdu world more than two decades ago. "Main Khayaal Hun Kisi Aur Ka Mujhe Sochata Koyee Aur Hai/Sar-e-Aayina Mera Aks Hai Pas-e-Aayina Koyee Aur Hai; Kabhi Laut Aaye To Poochna Nahin Dekhna Unhe Ghaur Se/Jinhen Raaste Me Khabar Huwi Ki Ye Raasta Koyee Aur Hai."
Other poets who recited at the mushaira included Professor Inayat Ali Khan, Ajmal Siraj, Salman Gailani, Sajjad Babar, Aziz Jabran Ansari and Qamar Warsi. There were local poets, and Naeem Bazidpuri was extremely popular. So was Aalami Urdu Markaz President Ather Abbasi. Other local poets included Mohsin Alwi, Zammarud Khan Saifi and Farooq Moonis.
No poetry recitation evening can succeed without a stellar anchor. In Amir Khurshid, the organizers found the perfect choice. He anchored the evening with poise and aplomb. He introduced the poets through a selection of delectable couplets that simply whetted the literary appetite of the listeners.
Earlier, Pakistani Consul General Abdul Salik Khan congratulated Aalami Urdu Markaz President Athar Abbasi, Yasin Haider Rizvi, Syed Mahtab Ahmad, Hamid Islam Khan and other team members for organizing a successful mushaira. "The markaz has done a great job in promoting Urdu and they are carrying out a national duty. We will support them in every way," he said.