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Monday, July 02, 2007

Attiya & Abro

The rains, the roads, the warning messages running on the strips that now take up more space than the video on TV screens, all made it difficult for many people to reach T2F for the event. Several phoned to ask for postponement, but there were enough in the audience and it would have been ridiculous to send back those who came despite the conditions. So we struck a deal with Attiya Dawood, who promised us another session very soon. Within the next 3-4 weeks, in fact. (Which is how long Abro's excellent canvases that complement Attiya;s poems, will also be on exhibit. (More about him in my next post as soon as I return from the SOL/YLC in Lahore). A session with Attiya is always a treat. For first-timers, it holds a bundle of surprises. An outspoken and very powerful feminist poet, in Sindhi and Urdu, she is also a great raconteur and, unlike her passionate, fiercely sad poems, her retelling of her life is full of wit and an honest humour that is hard to capture in a report to those not present ... although the rebelliousness comes through in everthing she writes, says and does. Suffice to say, if you missed this time, do make it the next. The multifaceted Asif Farrukhi, writer of stories and poems in English and Urdu, has translated Attiya's Book, now sadly out of print --- (Good News: OUP will soon be releasing her autobiography. How soon? "As soon as it is released from Abro's clutches, " says Attiya.) --- Her recitations were occasionally followed by Asif reading from his wonderful translations. Her personal favourite among her own poems is "To My Daughter" - which she recited in Urdu and Sindhi (at the request of Babar Ayaz). It is reproduced here, with Abro's painting that accompanied it in in the original publication. Click on the image to make it more readable. And here's Asif reading his own translation of the poem.} Attiya's blood-curdling poem on the rape of a 2-year old child - "Baykaar Khilaunay" - is offered here in translation:

DISCARDED TOYS Today in my courtyard The setting sun is a spear’s distance away. The earth, like my heart, is brandished metal. Snatching the soother from my baby daughter’s lips, Some monster has poured all the world’s horror into her life. I had never waged battles against anybody: Then why was the Karbala re-enacted for me? The court is in session and the judge is Listening to everybody’s statement. A beast stands in the place marked for the accused, I have cut my breasts and fed them to this beast. All of you good souls who offer me sympathy, Give me but a handful of words So that my lips may utter a lullaby To make this suckling infant wounded by the arrow of lust Smile in her sleep once again. When I kiss her as she lays asleep She wakes up screaming. What Hell has been unleashed on this innocent one That even on her father’s chest, In her mother’s arms, She writhes like a chicken with its neck sliced? Can the counterfeit coin of this country’s law Ever buy for me a toy Which I can use to appease My little daughter As she sleeps on the red-hot coals of pain? O God of mine ... When I will come to face you, Holding my daughter’s discarded toys And blood soaked underthings, Tell me, To balance the Scales of Justice What will YOU put on the other side?
Is there anyone who is not struck numb by the power of her words? Had it not been for the conversation that followed the readings, with Abro joining in and being his strong silent self except for a sentence or two that required industrial-strength coaxing (his view: "I speak only through my work."), we'd have gone back shaken to the core. Attiya's arrows hit home, everytime! All of Attiya's writings, in Sindhi and Urdu, with English translations, are now on the Web.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

To balance the scales of Justice the Man in hell.

02 July, 2007 12:12

Blogger Sidhusaaheb said...

For no apparent reason at all, I was reminded of the following lines after reading the blog post:

Aankh bhar aayi agar
ashkoN ko meiN pi looNga
Aah nikli jo kabhi
HothhoN ko meiN si looNga
Tujhse waada hai kiya
isliye meiN ji looNga

Strange are the ways of the sub-conscious mind.

02 July, 2007 19:49

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

05 July, 2007 22:40

Anonymous shez said...

The poem is heartbreaking, makes me realize how far wer are from "moderation".

06 July, 2007 12:15

Anonymous Jamash said...

In Dec, 2004 a report publish by Sahil (NGO), in the leading newspapers throughout the country revealed that about 4.5% children are sexually assaulted DAILY in Pakistan.

Following the report I did a brief study over the issue, in my study one of the case the above poem reminded me of was of a two and a half year old girl's case ( )

In our country, sexual violence Against children is almost never reported. After studying several cases I had come to a conclusion that in Pakistan at least one child out of every three, is a CSA victim and in most cases even the parents are not aware of what their child has gone through.

The only thing that prevent these cases to be reported is the lack of awareness among the people.

09 July, 2007 13:12


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