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Urdu Poets on Independence /Partition

Urdu Poets on Independence


With the ray of imagination poets of a given time visit the deeper corners of human feelings where even sun is unable to penetrate. They see it all, endure the pangs and then reproduce the sentiments in black and white through verses. The fervour of independence affected mostly all poets of the time. A few were euphoric over the prospects of breathing the free air, many others were melancholic due to communal turmoil. The confused Poet, who mainly wrote in Urdu, the most prevalent language then, cried with anguish. Dr. PRITAM SAlNl traces some such poets who knew no geographical boundaries.

Urdu, being the lingua franca of undivided India, was a vehicle for expressing the patriotic thoughts and sentiments of freedom loving writers. It served this purpose well from the 'Home Rule' to the 'Complete  Independence' phase of India's struggle for independence. The stalwart Urdu poets like Chakbast, lqbal, Lal Chand Falak, Zafar Ali Khan, Hasrat Mohani, Seemaab Akbarbadi, Tilok Chand Maihroom, Anand Narayan Mulla, Josh Maleehabadi, Firaq Gorkhpuri and others gave vent to their longing for freedom without a fear they raised their voice against the atrocities of the Raj and also inspired the people of the sub-continent to fight for freedom and keep the communal amity intact. Many of these poets who wrote in Urdu were born on the soil of five rivers. When on 15th August 1947, India got freedom from the oppressive British rule, her joy was marred by the division of her population on religious basis and consequent bloody communal pogrom. During those decades of forties and fifties progressivism prevailed upon Urdu literature. Urdu's progressive poets wished to propagate the socialist revolution which, according to them, was a panacea for all social ills. Therefore, they accorded a lukewarm reception to the much awaited freedom.
 Faiz Ahmad Faiz broke the ice and others followed suit, in his much-discussed poem 'Subha-e-Azadi' (Freedom's Dawn) he says: Night's heaviness is unlessened yet, the hour of mind and spirit's ransom has not struck, Let us go on, our goal is not yet reached. Faiz, who was born in Sialkot in 1911 obtained masters' degree in English and Arabic. He taught in MAO College, Amritsar for four years from 1942 to 1946. Earlier he had served in the World War ll as Lt. Cotonel and had seen the passions and plight of war. After partition he went over to Pakistan but was put in jail by the martial law regimes of Pakistan twice for writing against exploitation and oppression. Witn his matchless command over language and an elegant style he had won people's heart. Before passing away in Lahore in 1985 he had established himself well in the echelons of Urdu poetry forever. .
 Like Faiz Ahmad, Nadeem Qasimi too was disenchanted with the freedom received from the British regime. This first General Secretary of Progressive Writer's Association (PWA) of Pakistan cried in his Poem "Tuloo" (Dawn) against the atrocities inflicted on the helpless women during communal riots at the time of partition.
“Torn breasts covered with curled locks of hair
see the Tajs of chastity  sinking down.
It is sfrange divine favour granted fo us,
we are bestowed with the sun with gabble look.
Born in Auga, Sargodha in 1916, Qasmi was a versatile author and wrote short stories, plays, essays. He was also a columnist, a critic and a poet. With simple language using similes he would move hearts of his readers.
Freedom struggle and its outcome remained a common thread in almost all Urdu poets of the time. ln his poem 'Mufahmat' (Compromise) Sahir Ludhianvi denied the fact that on 15 August, it was the real freedom. This is not the happy celebrations but a tamasha, lt is the procession of robbers in a new guise, these fine chandeliers hung high by the gloom, are lit after extinguishing a thousand fraternal lamps.
Sahir kept the name of his home town with his title. This man from Ludhiana became a celebrated poet in his lifetime. His association with Hindi films gave him fame although his anthology 'Talkhiyan' fetched him recognition in the literary circles also. He became known for his romantic songs which preached compassion and love for humanity. Many of these are still favourites of the masses. Depicting horrors of war in his long poem 'Parchhaiyan' Sahir imagined a society without war and violence. ln the same vein, after eye- witnessing the implacable blood bath and butchery of the communal fiends Naresh Kumar Shad asked in his poem 'Azadi' (Freedom) : How can one unfurl he flag of our free India, On the devastated buildings reduced to debris, and standing near the corpses covered with shroud of blood, sing the happy songs of freedom's festivity ?
Not only the progressive Urdu poets of Punjab but others right across the sub-continent were deeply moved and grieved the Punjab tragedy. As a result they also could not rejoice at the dawn of freedom. Jazbiin his poem 'Naya Sooraj' (New Sun) symbolically conveyed that the rays of that new sun (Indian freedom) were brightening and warming the tall trees (the rich) and not reaching the plants (common people) grown under them. Those plants had been shivering in cold since centuries.
Ali Sardar Jafri in his poem 'Fareb' (Delusion) spoke against the much publicized freedom thus : We have picked up pebbles, taking them for pearls, Bandits are laughing at us furtively. ln one of his ghazals he satirized Pt. Nehru and Edwina Mountbatten's alleged love affair: Lef us kiss the daughter of dirty foe, and call it a reward for selling the honour of our martyrs.
Majaz Lukhnavi asserted in his poem Paihla Jashan-e-Azadi (The First Celebration of Freedom). This is good tidings for revolution and not the revolution, this is the shadow of sun and not the sun, this ,s not end but the start of brave men's expedition. Here Majaz meant that it was not real but pseudo freedom. The real freedom would come when whole India would go red.
 lt will not be out of place here to mention that of all progressive Urdu poets, only Majaz advocated creations of Pakistan in his poem 'Pakistan ka Milli Tarana' (The National Anthem of Pakistan). Later on this poem was omitted from the subsequent editions of his books entitled 'Ahang' as he chose to live in India and did not migrate to Pakistan.
ln his short poem 'Masalhat' (Betterment) Kaifi Azmi told the readers: At the close of the freedom's celebration we knew, ln the name of salvation, slavery has sustained itself. Agreeing with Faiz, Majrooh Sultanpuri revealed in one of his ghazals: On Majrooh the state of my caravan in this, that lt is looted by its guide and the highway man both.
And Jaan Nisar Akhtar's agony knew no bounds when he uttred : The land of Punjab enfolded in fierce fire, A bloody sea is boiling at every step.
Jagan Nath Azad expressed the grief of migrating people of the both side who had to abandon their homes and hearths and bear the pangs of separation :
Don't ask me what happened to the lovers,
Of the spring,
Qateel Shafai, in his poem 'Baihlave' (Amusings) proclaimed in in the same stain.
We were set out for that side o horizon,
but have  reached quite another terminus.
 Josh Maleehabadi was a friend of Pt. Nehru and he  was appointed the Chief Editor of Central Government's periodical 'Akal' (Urdu) therefore he did not speak against the freedom. He however wrote much against the communal violence and denounced the murderers and rapists vehemently.
Jigar Muradabadi also spoke so but in a mild tone. There were some poets though who did welcome the dawn of freedom whole-heartedly.
Jafar Ali Khan Asar expressed it in his poem 'Ahinsa Ki Paihli Sunaihri Kiran' (The First Golden Ray of Non- violence).
 Anand Narayan Mulla expressed his joy in a ghazal thus : My dream about my country's freedom, has turned into reality in my life time.
Saghar Nizami in a long poem Ae Subha-e-Watan (O Dawn of Freedom) jubilantly said that his motherland had entered into a new era of peace and progress then.
Sikandar Ali Wazad in his poem Aftab-e- Taza (The New Sun), Aiash Malsani in Jashan-e-Azadi (Celebration of Freedom) and Siraj Lakhnavi in Yaum- e-Azadi (The Day of Freedom) have expressed their ecstasy at the dawn of 15th August.
Evidently, sentiments of poets of that period of restlessness were stirred differently. Faiz and his followers reacted like politicians more than poets. ln general, most of them were dejected since India got freedom, but its glow was marred by unprecedented communal frenzy. The poets of other Indian languages too were divided into the camps representing varied political parties and groups. To this day a sensitive and slavery are becoming stronger.
 The ambition of Mahatma Gandhi and many others like him of wiping every tear from every eye is blown to the winds as majority of our politicians today are self-seeking and are only interested in filling their own coffers. The tears of the masses are flowing in torrents instead of getting dry, justifying the fears of the poets at the time of independence fiftv years ago.
(OCR Machine Typing: E&OE)

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Farooq Ahmed said...

beautiful sher of iftikhar arif on the partion and pakistan's independence


you can check out all poets here


Sarfaraz Jal said...

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I am also writing Urdu Stories at http://www.urdustory.pk
Kindly take out some time and provide a feedback.
Thanks alot

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