the essence

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 ยป 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…

4 thoughts on “the essence

  1. Chunan qeht saalay shud Ander damishq
    keh yaraaN faramosh kardend ishq

    you obviously have not forgotten ishq and that says that this Damishq is still safe from famine.

    Nice post.


  2. Riffat Ji, it took me some time to respond to your reflections. The main reason was that I had not read HASSAN KUZAGAR. When I left Pakistan in 1960 I was 19 and Rashid sahib had not come into intellectual vogue. We were inspired by Sahir and Jalib. Not even Faiz Sahib had reached us. But then I have come through Science classes and not Arts; thus my relation with Urdu adab is personal not academic. Between 1960 and 1983 there was no Urdu — that is age before electronics. Radio was the only medium available in England and then Sweden.
    Anyhow I have spent the last two days listening to Zia Mohyeeden reciting Hasan Kuzagar. He is a great narrator and his voice captured the magic of the poem; but for me, unfortunately, not its meanings. The Persian vocabulary, however decorative, remains outside my reach. I had even an imaginary Hasan the Potter sitting beside me. Considering he also originated from Lahore he did not grasp much of the poem either. I wish I had asked one from Tehran to help me out!
    Today, after the third session with Zia, I am more into the poem and probably share some of the pleasure you must have had when you recited it to yourself.
    I read that to have gone into a temporary recline. Well, I wish you good concentration and writing: Hope to hear from you when you find it fit to reach us. Keep well and stay happy!
    7 March, 2012

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