Reading Najeeba Arif’s dirge for Asif Farrukhi on his 61st birthday

Arif’s poem was written on the evening that Farrukhi passed away

Raza Naeem September 16, 2020

The late Asif Farrukhi was one of the great servants of Urdu letters and literature in the 21st century. His untimely death on June 1, 2020 at the relatively young age of 60 shocked not only the Urdu literary fraternity, but the wider realm of the arts, since Farrukhi had done so much to popularise Urdu not only through his own fictional and critical writings, but by being one of the pioneers of literary festivals in Pakistan. He was recently in the news when he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 9th UBL Awards held online last week.

Today marks Farrukhi’s 61st birthday, and to remember him I am presenting an original translation of noted writer and critic Dr Najeeba Arif’s heartfelt dirge for her close friend titled Hum Tere Pasmaandagaan Hain (We Are Your Survivors), which was written on the evening that Farrukhi passed away. I call this brief poem epiphanic because while it conventionally and expectedly begins with a mournful tone, it suddenly turns over the metaphor of ‘survivors’ in the very last verse, and makes Farrukhi out into a living being who is being awaited by the (dead) mourners so he can join them in mourning the latter, rather than the other way round; so that the reader is enveloped with hope and sympathy for the subject rather than despair and mourning.


‘Asif Farrukhi

We cry for you incessantly

We sit far away from your corpse

And cry and mourn you with remorse.

Our pens break

And we write your dirge with bloodied fingers without a brake.

We crash our heads against the issues of Dunyazad, which form a wall

And cry, with the pile of books held to our chests, in your thrall.

The clips of your video columns descend in our ears like daggers within

And refute your death herein.

On Facebook your photos look at us and beam

And we respond repeatedly with a scream

This is a lie, no no.

Asif Farrukhi! Do know

You are gone and we survive

We wait for you to arrive!’


ہم تیرے پس ماندگان ہیں!!!

آصف فرخی

ہم تجھے روتے ہیں

تیری میت سے دور دور بیٹھے

تجھے روتے اور بین کرتے ہیں۔

ہم اپنے قلم توڑتے

اور قرطاس پر خون بھری انگلیوں سے تیرا نوحہ لکھتے ہیں۔

ہم دنیازاد کے شماروں کی دیوار سے سر ٹکراتے

اور کتابوں کے ڈھیر کو سینے سے لگائے تجھے روتے ہیں۔

تیرے وڈیو کالمز کے کلپ ہمارے کانوں میں کٹار بن کر اترتے ہیں

اور تیری موت کا انکار کرتے ہیں۔

فیس بک پر تیری تصویریں ہمیں دیکھ کر مسکراتی ہیں

ہم چیخ چیخ کر کہتے ہیں

نہیں نہیں ، یہ جھوٹ ہے۔

آصف فرخی! جان لو

کہ ہم تیرے پس ماندگان ہیں

تیرا پرسہ لینے کو بیٹھے ہیں!

Raza Naeem

The author is president of the Progressive Writers Association in Lahore. He is a Pakistani social scientist, book critic and translator. His translations of Saadat Hasan Manto have been re-translated in both Bengali and Tamil, and he received a prestigious Charles Wallace Trust Fellowship in 2014-2015 for his translation and interpretive work on Manto. He is presently working on a book of translations of Manto's progressive writings, tentatively titled Comrade Manto.

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