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. Osman says:

    Beautiful poetry. Haunting in its undeniable truth.

  2. Atif says:

    So Zardari is launching the political career of his son who has spent most of his life outside Pakistan . This is not democracy this is monarchy. And the same goes for the Sharif Khandaan.

  3. USMAN says:

    I happen to dislike Asif Zardari intensely. Very intensely.

    But right now the only people in the world I dislike even more intensely are those heartless souls who are trying to make political points about Zardari being in Europe. I keep getting these emails filled with hate for Zardari but absolutely no concern for those dying and homeless in these floods. All these heartless people want to do is score cheap political points based on the misery of poor people. SHAME ON THEM.

    I do not know just how the plight of anyone who have become suddenly better if Zardari had changed his plans, but I do know that the plights of Pakistan will never ever improve as long as we have heartless idiots who will use a tragedy such as this to score cheap political points.

  4. SAM says:

    What kinda justice is this..And how shamefull and clueless our politicians are.Inspite off that they must know that who is killing who and why,still they are contending their stances on by being those clueless people on this plannet who cannot tell that .what were those grounds when we saw the bloodsheds of those innocent people,who were either street hawkers.or those drivers who were on the middle of way when the riot had been set out and in result they have been killed.

  5. Kafir Per Paistani Law says:

    There is Ilahm of a Saint in India, little over 100 years ago (in my words): “Those who insult me will be destroyed.”

    It is very unfortunate to see Pakistan is fulfilling the Ilham.
    It is interesting to see and hear unlike anytime in the past, educated Pakistanis blaming today’s condition of Pakistan on Maulana Maududdi and political ulema like him. I have never heard so much strong words and curses for Mauddudi sahib from mouths of educated Pakistanis ever before.
    I guess Ilham of that Saint of 14th Islamic century is fulfilling on individuals and nation together.

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