KARACHI: As brilliant as Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s poetry was, he would throw it away during recitation. When asked once about why he would do that, the poet replied, “Why should I do all the work, why don’t you do something, too?”
Urdu poet and scriptwriter Zehra Nigah shared this recollection while speaking at a session, tiled ‘Celebrating Faiz’, on the last day of the 8th Karachi Literature Festival on Sunday. The life, work and persona of the revolutionary poet, who is one of the most celebrated writers of the Urdu language, were celebrated at the event.
Zehra was asked to shed light on the poet’s life and comment on whether she thought that a poet’s personality affects their profession. “It’s not important for a poet to be a good person in order to say good poetry,” she said. She then went on to praise the poet by saying that he was an evergreen, extremely generous and down-to-earth man who was open to criticism. Being a serious poet, Faiz had a good sense of humour, she said.
The daughter of Faiz, Salima Hashmi, who is a leading artist, curator and contemporary art historian, recollected incidents that reflected on her father’s personality from when he was in jail. Poetry will still travel is what he said when the walls of the jail in which he was kept prisoner in were raised, she said.
According to her, Faiz’s poetry became more famous after his time in jail. It was in solitary confinement that the poet wrote many of his most famous pieces. Salima remembers her father as being a very simple-versed man.
He was known as a ‘man of peace’, she said. His level of patience was remarkable and he never took to heart any criticism. His only concern was Pakistan and he wanted to talk of Pakistan, she said.
Zehra and Salima shared fond memories of the poet with his wife, Alys. They had a very strong and interesting companionship. She recalled the poet calling her ‘a true partner’.
Faiz was a very warm-hearted individual and the diction he used is just as sweet as his personality, said Zehra.
Adeel Hashmi, a television actor, and Ali Madeeh Hashmi, a psychiatrist – both grandsons of Faiz -concluded the session by reading out stanzas from the poets poems.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 13th, 2017.