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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Chaatgaam Poets

I loved reading the lovely post on Parveen Shakir in Tehelka Blogs. I had met Parveen just a few days before her death, at a Feminist Mushaerah in Lahore, and adored many of her shayrs. (Thank you, Rana Safvi … and also for #Shair on Twitter.)  She was great! It was wonderful was to see people who responded to the Rana post. Obviously, shaeri has a strong flavour in India and Pakistan … so  I thought there'd be a few people among your readers who are interested in more shaeri. And in audio!
Today I am adding a brief selection of some Chittagong poets (aka as The Chaatgaam Poets) from the last time my Merchant Ship went there. Almost every trip I'd hold a mushaaerah on board. I often invited people from Dacca, too, including Iqbal Azeem and Suroor Barabankvi, but these two, of course, have been heard very often. However there were many others whom neither Pakistanis nor Indians have heard. Most of them moved to West Pakistan when the Bangladesh War was on. A couple also moved, via jails in India, years later.
I was very friendly with two lovely young poets, Nudrat and Shohrat. Sadly, both died in Karachi in the last 2-3 years.
Asghar Gorakhpuri (or Asghar Bhai, as I called him) was a really close friend and one whose conversations I miss often. He spent much time with me in Karachi after escaping from there. He told us of his horrible tale of lying for hours under dead bodies (and left presumably dead by some attackers). But I never heard him argue against me for my love of Bangladesh and its independence.
Yes, there were really awful troubles from the Pakistan side and, yes, Mukti Bahini followers also did really terrible things. My own distant relative, a girl of 3, had one eye removed by a knife in one of the attacks. A non-Bengali friend, from Dacca, who sailed with me on ships and went to look for his family (during the war) discovered that he had lost his father, two brothers, and a brother-in-law in those days, killed by neighbours and 'friends'. He now works, again, in Chittagong after many years of living in Karachi. I hope we learn that independence is a movement and should never be suppressed in India and in Pakistan.
Kavish Umar I have seen again recently. After tracing him for years since he disappeared, in the middle of a strong friendship, he is now back!  I hope to have him appear at T2F/Karachi soon for a live session (along with his daughter, Sahar, who is also a lovely poet now).
In the ship's mushaeraah I did recite a ghazal or two and Ustaad Mubaarak Mungeri used to call me Hamaara Chatgaiyaañ Shaaer. I really loved his poetry a lot.
It was sad … but for Chittagong poets getting to mushaeraahs in Karachi was very expensive (or time consuming!), so many people here never knew of them. Even after some of them did arrive, a lot were in tatters and looking hard for ways to make a living, with little financial help to keep them going. Very rarely did we hear them in any local sessions. Today I thought I'd share their lovely verses with some of you in India/Pakistan who may never have heard of them.
I have placed poets in the order that we recited at the ship's mushaaerah, before we sailed away from there for the last time.
01 • Kazim 'Nudrat' Abdi — Ghazal: Ameeré shahr ki bakhshish — The youngest poet of the group. Wrote very few pieces.
02 • Nasir 'Shohrat' Zaidi — Ghazal: Pardaé zahn peh — Another young poet who came to Karachi and was heard often in local mushaaerahs.
03 Mohammad 'Vali' Siddiqui — Ghazal: Hamayñ yaad haé — A very pouplar poet in Chittagong. 
04 'Munawwar' Faizi — Rubaaiyaat — A strong leftist shaaer who worked in PIA.
05 Zaheer 'Alam' Kidvai: — Ayk musalsal Ghazal: Door tak zülmat hi zülmat
06 Asghar 'Rahi' — Ghazal: Haé yeh gaysoo — People loved his tarannum.
07  Yusuf Ali 'Laiq' — Ghazal: Aap kay Saqi-o-Jaam — A lovely poet. This ghazal became quite a hit and was published fully in an Urdu paper that covered our session.
08 'Kavish' Umar — Ghazal: Pahloo mayñ khalish — His diction and his command of language won all his listeners. His ghazals and nazms were thoroughly popular.
(His collections have been published now and are available at Urdu Bazaar, Karachi.)
09 • 'Mubaarak' Mungeri — Nazm: Mauzooé Sukhan — An Ahmadi poet, this brilliant nazm mentions the Lahore Fasaadaat (1953) in which a strong anti-Ahmadi movement took place, resulting in a Martial Law in that area. He also mentions in another verse Syed (Z A Bhutto), Shaikh (Mujib-ur-Rajman) and Khan (Pakistan's President Yahya).
(Books were published by his son after Mubaarak sahab died)
10 • 'Asghar' Gorakhpuri — Nazm: Mohraa — He loved the classical style and presented it with new ideas, Great poet. Wonderful conversationalist.
(A CD of all his kalaams that I had is now available)
I have a selection of more of  the 'Chaatgaam' poetry and will release a CD or two of them at T2F, soon.
Have no idea where Vali, Munawwar, Rahi, and Laiq  are, so if you know, please drop a comment in my BlogPost. Thanks.

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Blogger Joychaser said...

hello, i came here via a tehelka blog on attia hosain, which i was looking up just to see what kinds of nonacademic biographical information was available online. i am SO glad to have found it! i'm trying to dissertate on muslim women's literary representations of the zenana and the ways in which they participated in anticolonial political activity while negotiating purdah in the 30s and the 40s. how did they imagine new decolonised states? so much has been written about partition narratives that it's become this self-sustaining cottage industry, but somehow i couldn't find too many sources on what 'elite' women from 'feudal' families were thinking, how these families were affected by the regime change. most of the partition historiography effectively overshadows the 30s and 40s and even 1947 is all about violence around border areas, riots, trains, mutilated bodies, women's abductions, and their eventual rehabilitation procedures. everything preceding all of this is a hunt for possible causes, which is a tiresome way of looking at history, i think.

i read sunlight on a broken column, mumtaz shahnawaz's the heart divided and khadija mastur's aangan (in english translation as inner courtyard, because i still can barely read urdu, but one day i WILL) one after the other trying to find other representations of that time, and especially, representations of the particular kind of homes and family structures of that period, and i have to say, i fell in love with each. and i was kid of surprised when i couldn't find much academic writing on these novels, especially when compared to, say, something like bapsi sidhwa's ice candy man.

and even most the academic writing i've found, perhaps with the exception of muneeza shamsie's pieces (perhaps because she is also related to attia hosain), pales in comparison with your stories of attia hosain. it's difficult to get people excited about a project like mine, sitting in a small provincial university town in north-eastern US, and even more difficult to have conversations with people about that time period, those remarkable women who'd broken with so much tradition, witnessed such upheaval, and faced it all with such grace in their lives.

so basically i just wanted to say thanks. =)

12 March, 2013 07:59

Blogger Zakintosh said...

@Joychaser Thanks for visiting my blog. It was good to hear your views.

I wish your comment had been under the Attia Hosain post instead of The Chaatgaam Poets … But I guess I'll post a copy of it there now.

12 March, 2013 09:02


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