Meray Shehr jal rahey haiN, Meray Loug mar rahey haiN

Posted on August 4, 2010
Filed Under >Adil Najam, ATP Mushaira, Law & Justice, Poetry, Politics
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Adil Najam

Karachi burns again. Tears swell up, but words run dry. This poem by Obaidullah Aleem, written in 1971 and sent to me recently by Naveed Riaz, says what we all feel. (Click on the audio logo below for an audio recording).

Meray Shehr jal rahey haiN, Meray Loug mar rahey haiN
(My cities are burning, by people are dying).

[audio: eem-1971.mp3]

But it is really the last line of the ghazal that speaks to our collective angst, and indeed our collective guilt:

Hum he Qatl ho rahey haiN, hum he Qatl kar rahey haiN
(We ourselves are doing the dying, we ourselves are doing the killing).

How deep. How true. How sad.

The same thoughts are conveyed also in this poem by Ahmad Faraz; written in response to an earlier spate of killings in Karachi. We have used Faraz’s words before on this blog, including in a January 2008 post which is worth revisiting because all we said then could be said again today. But what deserves to be said again most of all are the words from Ahmed Faraz… Here I repeat them along with my commentary on them from 2008:

A few lines from the poem worth thinking about as we grieve, yet again, the loss of innocent lives at the hands of those who wish to prove the ‘righteousness’ of their cause by violence, murder and mayhem.

On how none of this is new and how the result is always a heightening of ethnic, sectarian and other ‘differences’. Note the “phir say tou kouN hai, meiN kouN houN, aapas meiN sawal” [once again, we ask each other: who are you? who am I?]

phir wohe aag dar aaye hai mairi galiyoun mein
phir mairey shehr mein barood ki boo phaili hai
phir say tou kouN hai, meiN kouN houN, aapas meiN sawal
phir wohi soch miyan-i-mann-o-tou phaili hai

On how we are sp quick to blame ‘outsiders’ for our misery, as if we had no hand in it ourselves. Note the “mairey seenay meiN sadda apna he khanjar utra” [it has always been my own dagger that has pierced my heart]

mairi basti say parrey bhi mairey dushman houN gay
par yahaN kabb koee aghyaar ka lashkar uttra
aashna haath he aksar mairey janab labkay
mairey seenay meiN sadda apna he khanjar utra

This part is my favorite. About how fear (khouf) and uncertainty (tazabzub) rules, and how much havoc is brought forth by those who use the rhetoric of patriotism (naara-i-hubb-i-watan) and of religion. Note the “naara-i-hubb-i-watan maal-i-tajarat ki tarhaaN” [slogans of patriotism are traded like commodity in a bazaar] and the “jinss-i-arzaaN ki tarhaaN deen-i-khuda ki baateiN” [talk of religion has become like a commodity in over-supply].

phir wohi khauf ki deewar, tazabzub ki faza
phir hoeeN aam wohoee ahl-i-riya ki baateiN
naara-i-hubb-i-watan maal-i-tajarat ki tarhaaN
jinss-i-arzaaN ki tarhaaN deen-i-khuda ki baateiN

And he ends with these words of hope that give me great solace. When he talks about “mairey dilgeer, mairey dard kay maarey logou” he seems to be talking to us directly today. But the real kicker is in the last two lines: “kissi ghasib, kissi zalim, kissi qatil kay leeaye, khod ko taqseem na karna, mairey saarey logou” [do not, O please do not, let the usurpers, the tyrants, the murders divide you into factions].

aaj aisa nahiN, aisa nahiN honay daina
aye mairey sokhta jaano, mairey piyarey logou
abb kay gar zalzalay aaye tou qiyamat ho ge
mairey dilgeer, mairey dard kay maarey logou
kissi ghasib, kissi zalim, kissi qatil kay leeaye
khod ko taqseem na karna, mairey saarey logou

View a video of Ahmad Faraz reciting this poem.

23 responses to “Meray Shehr jal rahey haiN, Meray Loug mar rahey haiN

  1. Adnan says:

    Regarding Zardari, there are news that A pair of shoe hurled towards him. It’s all over on Pakistani channels

  2. Yahya says:

    Hum he Qatl ho rahey haiN, hum he Qatl kar rahey haiN

    That is the great truth. It is we who are killed and we who kill. When we realize this, maybe then we can start a process of rebuilding.

  3. Watan Aziz says:

    Call me an idiot for pointing out things wrong.

    But I do love the Great Allama. Time and again I gravitate to his poetry. Even when he is down, he stirs you up and shows you the way out of the morass.

    I know there are a lot of fans of Faiz and Faraz. But both are too depressing. Their poetry is reflective of their times and experiences. Their struggles. Their hopes dashed. They are realists for sure, but do show a way out?

    It is possible that this depression is evident in some of the posts, their style and their context? After all, one can always find glass half empty; grass green on the other side; the other lane moving faster.

    Resistance to the usurper and tyrant is good and necessary. Fine, but there has to be a positive contribution, a game changer (popular term these days) that shines the light at the end of the tunnel. Depression is not a problem solver.

    I really do gravitate towards the Great Allama. To my mind, he has always presented a problem and a solution. And his solutions are always guided by the principles of serving the humanity.

    And serving the humanity is to protect and nourish the Creator’s creations. Depression is man induced acceptance of failure. Failure is not an option in the ways of Creator.

    Yep, I am an Allama’s idiot for sure.

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