FAIZ, SAHIR AND VERSEby HUMRA QURAISHI February 22 2023, 12:00 am Estimated Reading Time: 3 mins, 19 secs
Humra Quraishi revisits two of the best known poets of this subcontinent, Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Sahir Ludhianvi.
Both who were born years ago in the season of spring and wrote verse that pierced through the darkness their times spelt, resonate today more than ever.
What destruction, unimaginable disasters!
Images of the earthquake hit regions of Turkey and Syria rattle and un-nerve. One stares in disbelief at the scale of the tragedy. And, feels immense sorrow and pain while calculating the loss to the people of the two countries.
Even in India, when the month of February is said to be spring time and promises bahaar, there isn’t much to celebrate. The destruction in historic townships and settlements of Turkey and Syria somehow resonate with the fear of what may befall upon us as one looks around and watches the politics playing out dangerously, the absolute siege over mainstream media and the chaos that is spreading wider day after day. The cracks in mighty structures and the demolition of huge cities in other parts of the world is symbolic in many ways.
Faiz Ahmed Faiz’ verse comes to mind:
This moment is to mourn the death of time/The river of the sky has paused/And near the banks of horizon/The moon-ferry of the gloomy hues has anchored/All the ferrymen, all the stars/Have disembarked/On the shore of the earth/The leaves are gasping for breath/The winds are dozing off/The gong has issued the order of silence/Then all voices lost in quietness…”
On the one hand it is a natural disaster that has left millions homeless, without shelter they called their own, and on the other, the mindless demolition of homes of the poor is rendering more and more people helpless. One cannot permit encroachments and then demolish them on whim. How can the government not have plans for the people it is displacing?
Nobody wants to ask relevant questions or delve deeper to the issue. Where are those authorities that sanctioned the building of the homes in the first place? Who are those land mafias that control the lives and livelihoods of so many people?
So, out here, this verse of Sahir Ludhianvi comes to mind. Its relevance stands to this day. Little do the killers getting away with murder day after day realize that drops of blood remain unmoved, unwashed and unfazed.
This is from his poem Khoon Phir Khoon Hai’ (Blood, however, is blood):
Tyranny is but tyranny, when it grows it is vanquished/Blood however is blood, if it spills it will congeal/It will congeal on the desert sands, on the murderer’s hand/On the brow of justice and on chained feet/On the unjust sword, on the sacrificial body/Blood is blood, if it spills it will take root/Let them hide all they want, skulk in their lairs/The track of spilled blood will point out the executioners’ abode/Let conspiracies shroud the truth with darkness/Each drop of blood will march out, holding aloft a lamp/Say this to tyranny’s worthless and dishonoured destiny/Say this to coercion’s manipulative intent/Say this to Laila, the darling of the assembly/Blood is wild, it will splatter and stain your garment/It is a rapid flame that will scorch your harvests/That blood which you wished to bury in the killing fields/Has risen today in the streets and courts/Somewhere as a flame, somewhere as a slogan/Somewhere else as a flung stone/When blood flows bayonets cannot contain it/When it raises its defiant head, laws will not restrain it/Tyranny has no caste, no community, no status or dignity/Tyranny is simply tyranny, from its beginning to its end/Blood is however blood, it becomes a hundred things/Shapes that cannot be obliterated/Flames that can never be extinguished/Chants that will not be suppressed.