Seeing through the eyes of Faiz Ahmed Faiz
Dil-nasheen harf koi qahar bhara koi,
Harf-e-ulfat koi dildaar-e-nazar ho jaise
(A word that bewitches or filled one with rage, A word of love like the longing of sweethearts)
Is poetry only for the lovers? Is love only the communion of two individuals? Are poems the language of love only? There are a multitude of questions that we often ask when we think of love, poetry and romance. There are hundreds and thousands of poets whose pens wrote for their beloved and thunderous words about love, heartbreak and separation. There were some poets who maintained their distance from such forms of poetry, and tried to use the power of words to arouse a sense of protest and struggle against oppression. The Progressive Writers Association was one such group of writers who wrote for the Indian independence struggle and the fight against the British Raj.
Amidst those poets, writers and thinkers was a man who wanted to remove these differences of love-poetry and revolutionary-poetry. And so he did. He combined the two in such a way that today when we read his works, at one glance, we would be reminded of a beloved away from us and the next moment, we would be developing a feeling of protest against the evils of society.
Faiz Ahmed Faiz. Some call him a Marxist. Some call him a communist. Some say he was a Leftist writer. Some term him as a Pakistani poet. But whatever tags we may give him, the only title that aptly suits the legendary Urdu poet was a romantic revolutionary poet.
When Faiz Ahmed wrote ‘Mujhse pehli si mohabbat’, he created a buzz because of his mesmerizing way of addressing his beloved and talking of how the world was his beloved only for him and he was intoxicated with her beauty. But when he saw the evils and horrors of society, his bubble of love was broken and shattered. He was able to see clearly and thus, with a sad heart, he believes that he will never be able to see the world in the same light as he did earlier. He won’t be able to dwell into romantic relationships just so easily.
Ab bhi dilkash hai tera husn magar kya kije,
Aur bhi dukh hain zamaane mein meri mohabbat ke siva,
Rahaatein aur bhi hain vasl ki raahat ke siva.
Yet we see Faiz’s works constantly talking of a beloved, a lost love, a raqeeb (rival), and loneliness. So who’s this beloved? What’s this love that Faiz is talking about? As we explored more of his works, we came to realize that the beloved is none other than his nation he is talking about. Love is nothing but the spirit of revolution. The lost love is the freedom the country enjoyed earlier.
He did not stop writing about this love after the partition of India. His ‘Subh-e-azadi’ (morning of freedom) is a work that shows the pain and agony people faced after partition. This was not the freedom and independence people had wished for or dreamt of. The struggle was supposed to bring beautiful days ahead of them, not trauma marked with bloodied streets and houses.
ye daaġh daaġh ujālā ye shab-gazīda sahar
vo intizār thā jis kā ye vo sahar to nahīñ
So, why, in this mesmerizing issue of Love do we talk about Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s poetry. Because he is one of the thinkers and writers who made us realize that love is not just a language of personal emotions. Love can be a language of community, of society, of a fight that hasn’t been fought yet, an oppression that people have accepted but need to retaliate. Love is one of the most powerful forms of struggle. Any attempt at explaining how it is possible will be futile because it has to come from deep within. The moment you realize how Love holds the power of revolutionizing the world around you, you will be able to understand, accept and appreciate Faiz Ahmed’s work more.
guloñ meñ rañg bhare bād-e-nau-bahār chale
chale bhī aao ki gulshan kā kārobār chale
(May it fill with flowers, may the breeze of spring again flow in the garden,
Come so that the Garden is back in business)