By Pooja Garg Singh
“Mere Dil, Mere Musaafir
Hua huqm phir saadir”
(My heart, my traveler
It has been decreed again)
I read “Merey Dil, Merey Musaafir”, the famous Faiz nazm about exile, and found home. I loved how easily he juxtaposed heart and traveler in the same line, imbuing both words with the qualities of the other. That was twenty years ago. One has left many houses behind since then, a few inhabited loves and some translated notion of the being one thought one was. But Faiz remains. With his political poetry and more political romance. In my small clutch of his books, I have lugged around three continents, the territories assigned to love, land, and loss come together in the seamless mesh that life is.
Ki manzil abhi nahi aayi”
(Let’s keep moving
For the destination has not come yet)
It may well be him talking about our endeavors to untie his poetry, one sublime layer by another. And yet he is more water than flower in his thoughts; at once clear and transparent, but with that sense of mystique which makes us look over the next bend in the river that his ghazals are. One comes to him for the resounding thought, but stays on for the spellbinding beauty. His poems imbibe his own brand of mellifluous lyricism with the humanist values that he stood for.
“Karey na jag mein alaa-o tau sheyr kis masraf
Karey na sheher mein jal thal tau chashm-e-nam kyaa hai”
(What good is a verse that does not light up the world?
What good a tearful eye if it does not wash away the city?)
In this Café Dissensus issue on Faiz, we bring together essays on Faiz’s life and on his poetry of love and protest. The essays, stories, and poems in the second half of the issue are inspired by Faiz’s poetry.
Ali Madeeh Hashmi shares an excerpt from his forthcoming biography on Faiz, to be published by the end of the year.
Saba Ahmad meets Salima Hashmi, Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s daughter in Lahore. She reproduces her conversation here for us.
Kanwaljit Singh, the noted actor, talks about his love for Faiz and recites his poetry in a video conversation with Azam and Akbar Qadri.
Neelesh Misra, the popular storyteller and Bollywood lyricist, in an interview with me, discusses influence of Urdu poetry and his take on Faiz’s nazm in a song for Vishal Bharadwaj’s film, Haider.
Nirali Kartik, the popular singer, talks to Arundhati Dighe about her rendition of Faiz’s poetry and Shankar Tucker’s compositions.
Zafar Anjum writes about Faiz and his years of exile in his essay.
Mosarrap Khan discusses Faiz and his stance on 1971.
Vinita Agarwal discusses Faiz and his poetic flavors.
Bhupinder Singh gives us a lingering account of his association with Faiz.
Sunayana Kachroo discusses the inherent optimism of Faiz’s vision.
Gorvika Rao wonders what Faiz would say to AAP in her write-up for the issue.
Anirudh Kala harkens Faiz in his story, Speed.
Saon Bhattacharya recalls Faiz in her story, Dawn of Freedom across Churning Padma
Rashida Murphy takes memories on a Faizsque journey in her story, Brass Bells
Goirick Brachmachari takes his cues from Faiz’s poetry and makes them his very own in his poems in this issue.
Pooja Garg Singh is a US based writer and poet. Her poems and essays have appeared in Eclectica, The Missing Slate, The Aerogram, The Feminist Wire, The North East Review, Boston Coffee House, The Brown Critique, Muse India, Cafe Dissensus and elsewhere. Pooja is Reviews Editor for Jaggery, a South Asian Literature journal based out of Chicago. She is also Poetry Editor for Open Road review, a popular online journal based out of India. She is part of Mandli, a motley group of story writers from India who write for radio, television, movies, and other media formats. An ex-journalist, Pooja worked with various publications such as India Today Group and IDG. Currently, she runs a content company, WordTree which can be reached at www.wordtree.in. Pooja is passionate about the use of poetry as therapy. The Woman Inc Poetry Project is her initiative in that direction. More about the project at www.thewomanincpoetryproject.com. She is currently involved in writing and working on a film that looks closely at gender violence. Everyday and Some Other Days is her first collection of poems. She is at http://www.poojagargsingh.tumblr.com
For more stories, read Café Dissensus Everyday, the blog of Café Dissensus Magazine.