Remembering Faiz Ahmad Faiz in these trying times 

On his 108th birth anniversary, poetry lovers in New Delhi gathered to celebrate the life, times and works of Faiz Ahmad Faiz

Photo Courtesy: Social Media
Photo Courtesy: Social Media

Girish Shrivastava

Recently, poetry lovers and youth enthusiasts celebrated the 108th birth anniversary of the most prominent revolutionary poet of our subcontinent, Faiz Ahmad Faiz, at a New Delhi bookstore. The event featured discussions, ghazals, music and mushaira by young participants to commemorate the legendary Urdu poet’s poetry on love and romance, humour, satire, life, politics and revolution. The programme was themed on one of his light-hearted treatise on love & life, “Kuchh Ishq Kiya, Kuchh Kaam Kiya” and had on the dais noted writer and Professor of Hindi, Abdul Bismillah of Jamia Millia Islamia, credited to have edited Faiz’s first definitive and comprehensive collection in Hindi titled, “Saare Sukhan Hamaare” (All My Writings, 1987).

The evening of “Kuchh Ishq Kiyaa, Kuchh Kaam Kiyaa” witnessed some very interesting and educative interactive session under the discussion forum led by Bismillah. Through his understanding of Faiz’s life, time and progressive revolutionary politics and poetry, he enlightened the young minds who were awestruck and amused. He brought alive the euphoric fervour of the Progressive Writers’

Association, conceptualised by the legendary Sajjad Zaheer and spearheaded by the likes of Premchand and Faiz to awaken the masses against imperialism, slavery and all sorts of fundamentalism. Faiz’s poignant verse “Hum Ke the hare Ajnabee, itnee mudaraton Ke baad, phir banenge aashna Kitnee mulaqaton Ke baad (Even after such a long association, we remain strangers. How many meetings would it take us to become friends again),” is particularly relevant today.

The role of poetry today is multi-tasking and challenging violence, disbelief and terrorism. When our long cherished shared legacy stands destroyed and when media and political jingoism are all ‘hand-in-glove’, working against social harmony and peace, poetry alone is the ultimate saviour as it leads us towards some revolutionary and futuristic ideas of a new world

The evening successfully brought alive some moments of awakening full of humanism and revolutionary optimism among the youth. Bismillah, in his trademark humorous style, emphasised on how poetry should be treated today to purge our anger and vengeance toward one another. The role of poetry today is multi-tasking and challenging violence, disbelief and terrorism.

When our long cherished shared legacy stands destroyed and when media and political jingoism are all ‘hand-in-glove’, working against social harmony and peace, poetry alone is the ultimate saviour as it leads us towards some revolutionary and futuristic ideas of a new world. Faiz Ahmad Faiz’s poetry is a living testament to humanism today.

There is little doubt, in the wake of the Pulwama terror attack on Indian security forces, when cross-border geo-politics is in the grip of a volatile and chauvinistic nationalism and war mongering is on the rise, that we need to read the revolutionary poet more than ever before.

Let’s remember these lines from Dawn of Freedom: “This blemished light—this dawn devoured by light—Surely this wasn’t what we have all been aching for. The Heavy darkness of night hasn’t yet lessened. The moment of salvation hasn’t yet come for our hearts. So let’s keep going—for that destination has yet to come

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