Give me 85 Seconds, Please.

Posted on August 23, 2009
Filed Under >Adil Najam, People, Poetry
Total Views: 27332


Adil Najam

Dear readers, please give me just 85 seconds of your time.

Take a deep breath, and then take a listen to the audio recording below. It will take all of 1 minute and 25 seconds.

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And, then, if you can give me just 30 seconds more, take a deep breath and think about what you have heard.

If you wish to share that thought with other readers, we will be delighted. But even if you don’t, do please think.

The recording comes to us via Zakintosh’s wonderful blog, Windmills of My Mind. We have, of course, written about Zaheer Alam Kidvai before and also carried some wonderful material from his blog, especially his Yaadayn (here and here). The recording was in a post about Independence Day, and this is how he set it up:

From Leaders to Facebookers, from the Steeple to Tweeple, everyone is still asking others to do something for Pakistan, even if it is just to superficially ‘go green’ by changing your display picture.

In 1949, when I was almost 9 and Pakistan had just turned 2, Abi (my father, Azhar Kidvai) wrote a poem that he read out on at a small mushaaerah celebrating Independence Day. While the rest of the poem was simple and understable enough at that age, too, it was the brief section of it that contained an anecdote I found very amusing and read it often enough to have it permanently etched in mind. Listen to me reciting it for my daughter, Ragni, a few years ago.

This is one of the most heart moving and pertinent things I have heard for a long time. It reminded me of one of my favorite sheyr (itself inspired by the famous JFK line):

jissay bhi daikhiaye gilla,
watan say yeh nahiN milla,
watan say woh nahiN milla.

Koee nahiN jo yeh kahay,
watan ko meiN nay kiya diya,
watan ko tumm nay kiya diya.

I think Kidvai sahib’s poem is so much more powerful; in its simplicity and its poignancy. It puts so many things into perspective, including some of the comments and naaras we get from our readers here, and even more on our Facebook page.

Shameless we might be – we too ask people to go green, and who did the most good or most harm to the country. But ultimately, the question is “watan ko meiN nay kiya diya, watan ko tumm nay kiya diya.”

My late grandmother was a very wise woman (all grandmothers are). She used to say that when you point one finger at someone else, at least three point right back at you. Wise words that we should all pay heed to. Just as we pay heed to the words of Kidvai sahib’s father.

22 Comments on “Give me 85 Seconds, Please.”

  1. ASAD says:
    August 23rd, 2009 1:12 pm

    Very powerful and thought provoking poem. And wonderfully recited. That adds to its effect.

    Also loved the sheyr :

    jissay bhi daikhiaye gilla,
    watan say yeh nahiN milla,
    watan say woh nahiN milla.

    Koee nahiN jo yeh kahay,
    watan ko meiN nay kiya diya,
    watan ko tumm nay kiya diya.

  2. Haroon says:
    August 23rd, 2009 1:38 pm

    This is one of the most interesting things I have heard in a long time. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Waseem says:
    August 23rd, 2009 1:40 pm

    Excellent! should make everyone of us think about positive side of the picture.

  4. Adam Insaan says:
    August 23rd, 2009 1:59 pm

    Responsibility exist at different levels, concerning the formation of a society as a structure / model, there is of course the collective responsibility and on the other end there is the individual on the personal level ,
    and that is the issue ….

    I used to smile talking with my friends that are non-Pakistaniis, if I had to explain “projection” on a psychological level ,
    I used to say, that there is a disease called ” pakistan`itis” and they used to ask me what is that ??
    I used to say ; that`s when we pakistaniis say exempla gratia : ` I say that nothing is my fault , it is all the fault of everybody else

  5. August 23rd, 2009 2:23 pm

    A few comments from the ATP Facebook Page:

    - “WOW. What an excellent poem. Makes all of us think about what it means to be a Pakistani and what we need to do. Thanx for posting this.”
    - “wow amazing! im sharing it too!”
    - “gr8 lesson for ll of us,”
    - “Excellent! should make everyone of us think about positive side of the picture.”
    - “Terrefic lesson for all PAKISTANIS……wake up…”
    - “THANX”
    - “lovely audio guys… do think what we are doing for Pakistan, if not then start thinking what to do for our country, or how we can take part for the developement of our country”

  6. SH Kavi says:
    August 23rd, 2009 2:38 pm

    shiqwa-e-zulmteshab se to kanhi behtar tha
    Apney hissey ki koi shamma jalatey jate
    Ahmed Faraz

  7. Nyla says:
    August 23rd, 2009 3:33 pm

    What a simple but strong message. And what a great thing to share with your daughter.

    Thank you.

  8. August 23rd, 2009 4:22 pm

    Atp Adil, Owais you guys do not fail to move me again and again you are great and the stuff put on atp is thoughtful knowledgeable informative and at times funny . pl continue your work.I am a physician educated in pakistan and some time back calculated the almost free education we got there payed by the people of pakistan We at theHuman dev foundation have decided to in a smallway pay back our debt to pakistan by our efforts to help our benefactors in trying to improve their lot by spending our time energy and money and we invite others to join us. pl goto our website and join us and yes we can make our zamin better.Tariq K

  9. Israr says:
    August 23rd, 2009 5:35 pm

    Wow , Wow, the only question comes to my mind Main Kya aur karoon apne watan kay liye ?thanls HDF for at least letting me do something but what still wondering “watan ko meiN nay kiya diya”

  10. Humaira says:
    August 23rd, 2009 7:10 pm

    Just beautiful.

    I also just played this for my children.

    Simple and true message.

  11. Watan Aziz says:
    August 23rd, 2009 9:45 pm

    Great pearl of wisdom.

    But is it universal in its application?

    What if they took my ghara away? What if they did not allow me to make my own ghara? Or used kiln for their own ghara and told me to sun bake my own? What if they used finest clay to make their ghara and told me to mix clay with sand?

    Should we have asked Bengalis about their ghara?

    Should a rape victim not point finger? Muktharn Mai?

    Should Pastor Yousaf not say make the white red after Gojra?

    Should people who use water that we would not use in our toilets ask, where is this “access” to safe drinking water for 90 of us?

    These are moral dilemmas. Hard to answer. Early bird catches the worm; except the worm did have bad luck. Rolling stone gathers no moss but then harkat mein barkat.

    Is Asimov right when he says

  12. Dr. Qureshi says:
    August 23rd, 2009 11:45 pm

    Adil, is this the same Zaheer Kidwai who did the Faiz Ahmad Faiz CD some years ago. I also heard he did something on art but have never been able to get my hand on it. I wish he had done more of those. I still have by Faiz CD and prize it.

  13. Raheel says:
    August 24th, 2009 12:54 am


    Not only about our homeland, but in every prospect of our lives, we have lost positivity in the hands of selfishness.

    Alhamdolillah, we are blessed.

  14. Daktar says:
    August 24th, 2009 2:57 am

    Very nice post. Excellent recording (thank you Mr. Kidvai) and excellent writeup (thank you Mr. Najam).

    One of the many things I like about this website is that its attitude has always been “these are our problems and lets solve them ourselves rather than finding others (usually India, US, Israel, etc.) to blame.” Like you id on teh IDP fundraising you did. I appreciated that you asked others to chip in but did even more yourself. that is the spirit, what can I do to solve the problem rather than pointing fingers at others.

  15. Jalal HB says:
    August 24th, 2009 4:12 am

    Fantastic find and thanks for sharing. I wish such literature ever finds its practical manifestation

  16. Azlan says:
    August 24th, 2009 9:03 am

    Great find a post which really deserves a 2nd look. the wisdom u tried to share is really good

  17. shafaq says:
    August 24th, 2009 11:57 am

    I think i have heard something very beautiful and moving in along time. Its so true and truth has to be beautiful. Thank you Sir, for this post.

  18. Asghar says:
    August 24th, 2009 1:52 pm

    Heart moving. And great writeup.
    As you say: watan ko tum nay kiya diya, watan ko mein nay kiya diya

  19. Imtiaz says:
    August 24th, 2009 11:56 pm

    I appreciate this great find by you.

    Hum sabb paani ka gharra daalnay waaley hain

  20. sumaiyya says:
    August 25th, 2009 3:35 am

    Ruefully True!

  21. SJH says:
    August 25th, 2009 8:55 pm

    Beautiful and thought-provoking, Pakistan and Pakistanis need to launch a concerted effort to reward and exalt those who bring milk, and a similar effort to expose those who bring water. There needs to be societal pressure to do good, for good deeds to be visibly rewarded and for social fairness to prevail.

  22. Farooq Siddiqui says:
    August 26th, 2009 9:06 am

    Just want to point out one thing, which sort of bugs me everytime I hear the quote about what you can do for your country attributed to JFK. Khalil Gibran wrote that more than three decades before JFK for Lebanon (Although JFK did make it famous).
    Khalil Gibran in 1925 said the following in a work titled “The New Frontier”:

    “Are you a politician asking what your country can do for you or a zealous one asking what you can do for your country? If you are the first, then you are a parasite; if the second, then you are an oasis in a desert.” Khalil Gibran

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