Give me 85 Seconds, Please.

Posted on August 23, 2009
Filed Under >Adil Najam, People, Poetry
22 Comments
Total Views: 27581

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 responses to “Give me 85 Seconds, Please.”

  1. Farooq Siddiqui says:

    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

  2. SJH says:

    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.

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