Today I sat myself down and read N.M. Rashid out loud to myself… in a clear, loud voice like I was at some poetry recital, a mush’irah, and there was a room full of people sitting in front of me. Afterwards I felt fulfilled and satisfied with my performance. The best thing is, that nagging feeling of loss went away leaving me happy and relaxed.
When I was doing my Masters in Urdu Literature and Language, N.M.Rashid was our favorite – I loved Jilani Kamran too but he was my late night companion. When everybody was in their beds and the house had settled down for the night, I would pick up his collection of poems, “Astanze” and read the poems I could read without opening the book or turning the page. That was me, just for me.
And N.M.Rashid? He was for everyone. Between classes, suddenly Zafar Iqbal would start reciting Rashid which would lead to his “Hasan, Kooza gar” (Hasan, the Potter) and suddenly we would have an impromptu poetry recital. Hasan the Potter, everybody’s favorite!! If Shehzada Hasan was on the grounds and spotted a small, passionate group doing “wah, wahs” he would be there, joining us in no time… time to watch out for reading mistakes. He was a stickler for spelling and pronounciation.
Oh blessed are the days when we were young and such “aflatoons” (self-appointed intellectuals).
A few years back someone sent the English translation of “Hasan, Kooza gar.” It was amazing how the translator had captured the inner beauty, the essence the pain and longing in the original poem. I asked who the translator was, but my friend didn’t know. It was just perfect. Flawless. As if it was actually written in English. I had to know who was so good in this field. I mentioned it on my web site and asked if anybody knew. After some time I got an email with this information: Dr. Prichett. She had translated this poem. Shabash Ms. Pritchett, well done, hats off to you!! I had the privilege of talking to her a couple of times in the past, but that was a long time ago and though I wanted to call her again and talk about her excellent work, I never did.
Now for some time I was again under Hasan Kooza gar’s » spell. I wanted to read it. I can read. Yes sure I can read but I didn’t want to read it alone, I wanted to share it. Who with?
Chunan qeht saale shud ander Damishq
Good old Sa’di… “this year the famine in Damascus was so bad…”
So today I read “Hasan Kooza gar” to a room full of invisible people…