Poet, painter and sculptor Abdul Ghani Khan has been a part of Pashto literature and art for more than a hundred years, and to celebrate his contribution, Fikri Tarrun – a literary organisation – is holding events for his centenary this year.
Abdul Ghani was born in 1914 in what is now Charsadda district. His father Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan was a prominent leader of the Khudai Khidmatgar Tehreek.
Abdul Ghani was the youngest parliamentarian in the Indo-Pak subcontinent and was incarcerated on several occasions before and after Partition. He was trained at Rabindranath Tagore’s Shantiniketan Academy in painting and sculpture. He passed away in 1996.
While speaking at a press conference at Peshawar Press Club, Fikri Tarrun’s central organising committee presented a list of events they have planned to celebrate Khan’s centenary. This includes seminars, poetry recitals and music shows.
As a part of the centenary celebrations, they also plan on putting up portraits of Abdul Ghani made by other artists all over the province.
Prominent Pashto poet Rehmat Shah Sayel said Abdul Ghani was a progressive poet and his command over poetry and expression was second only to Khushal Khan Khattak. He added the literary organisation had formed two committees – a central one and an international one to deal with different events being held inside and outside the country.
According to Sayel, they have also planned to publish a book on Abdul Ghani’s life and works. He said that they have asked the Pashto Academy at the University of Peshawar and Pakistan Academy of Letters to publish the late poet’s journals. Some of Abdul Ghani’s selected poems will also be translated into Urdu and English. Furthermore, a calendar with Abdul Ghani’s poems and paintings will be available in print.
The committees plan on awarding those individuals who have done significant work on Ghani’s life and art – they will be given the Ghani Khan award during the year. Sayel demanded the authorities should declare 2014 as the year of Abdul Ghani Khan. He said the federal government should issue a commemorative stamp in his memory, adding it should also set up a museum in Ghani Dheri, Charsadda.
The late poet’s grandson, Mashal Khan said this was an occasion to celebrate his grandfather and show people the different aspects of his personality. Poet Usman Ulasyar was also present at the occasion.
A Poppy Flower
In a desert, once, on a hunt did I find,
With a radiant smile, a flower so fair;
Sadly, I approached and sighed, “Ah! Of my kind
Are you too a hapless flower from a beloved’s hair.
Frail fingers wouldn’t take you to a soft face so close,
Nor would you be kissed by lips delicate and rose.”
With a silent smile the flower replied, “Don’t lose heart!
This desert I wouldn’t give up for the gardens of Iran,
A solitary I am here while legions are there,
Amidst this cursed soil I stand apart.
In this gray desert, a flamboyant flame of divine light am I,
Beauty’s silent song, a miracle from the sky.
In your garden, there are thousands of flowers like me –
A nameless droplet in a nameless sea.
You too, in your desert, don’t feel forlorn,
To behold you at last shall come a sore Ghani Khan.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 2nd, 2014.