The poet of affection: Remembering Amjad Islam Amjad sahib – Pakistan
Within the take a look at of life, all questions are obligatory, all are troublesome.
On a scorching and humid afternoon in Lahore, on Aug 16, 2021, I walked out of a home having photographed one of many residing legends of our occasions, whose poems had been the soundtrack of my life.
I grew up in a home of Urdu poetry lovers, and of all of the South Asian poets that I used to be launched to, Amjad Islam Amjad sahib was the one who spoke to me essentially the most. His rhythmical compositions held simplicity — easy phrases that may carry the load of profound life classes, making his poetry refined, stunning, and relatable.
In the test of life, all questions are compulsory
In the ’90s, the typical Urdu exam at school would have these words written at the top: ‘Answer any five out of the 10 questions below.’ This format was loved by all — high risk takers would prepare answers for only five, based on their best guess of what might be on the exam after looking at the past papers; those in the middle would prepare answers for six to eight questions, and the ones like me, having a low appetite for risk, would prepare for the entire coursework.
Who knew if one question that I had not prepared for would turn out to be the compulsory one on the exam, right? What I knew, for sure, was that all 10 questions would come from a finite, narrow curriculum. I liked that certainty. I would be fully prepared.
So when I first came across this verse from Amjad Sahib’s poem, ‘Ek kamra-e-imtihan mein’ [In an exam room], it offered an in any other case thought-provoking perspective to my early-teen self. It touched me deeply, and left an enduring impression.
zindagi ke parche ke
sab saval lazim hain,
sab saval mushkil hain
[in the test of life, all questions are compulsory; all are difficult]
Later, as life uncovered itself with its complexities and non-negotiable set of questions — from an infinite pool of uncertainty — solutions to which I didn’t know, nor had time to arrange for, the that means of the verse above unfolded itself in its truest type.
A born storyteller
The same charm that one finds in his writings, his real-life persona endorsed. He would naturally own any space with his command over language and immersive storytelling style, yet that power was not intimidating at all, as it was offset by Amjad sahib’s affectionate nature and humble demeanour, which had immediately made me feel at home.
Growing up, there was an elder in Amjad sahib’s family who had lost her eyesight, yet was adored by all the children, who flocked around her as she would narrate captivating stories to them. This had a marked influence on him and he found the act of storytelling both potent and fascinating. His teachers at school also recognised the storyteller in him early on. This observation and encouragement from early on in his childhood translated and reflected in his TV dramas as a playwright later on in life.
Author of Geet Hamaray [Our Songs], and an avid contributor to youngsters’s literature, Amjad sahib was more than happy to study my podcast Bachpan Ki Kahaniyan [Stories from our Childhood] on Urdu tales for youngsters, and reiterated the significance of manufacturing high quality content material for youngsters.
For our children
Both children were born in the US They are both teenagers now. One question that perpetually follows me around is: ‘How much to hold on to, how much to let go?’
We were chatting in his drawing room when the tea trolley arrived. Amjad sahib walked towards it, lifted a plate to serve, and asked “beta chai piyo gi?” [Would you like some tea, dear?]. Embarrassed, I immediately took the plate from him and made tea for the two of us. While pouring tea, I shared my deep appreciation for his poetry, and recited a few verses from one of my many favourite poems written by him. Smiling, he joined in and completed the next few verses.
I came across ‘Ali Zeeshan kay liye aik nazm’ [a poem for Ali Zeeshan] solely a few years in the past, or possibly at a time once I wanted to listen to it essentially the most. It’s one in every of Amjad sahib’s comparatively new poems that ostensibly addresses his son, however echoes the emotions of all these going by way of the take a look at of parenting, and are torn between the previous and current. The poem superbly envelops in itself the feelings of 4 generations — feelings which are timeless and common throughout generations:
meray baitay nay aankhain ik nai duniya fundamental kholi hain
ussay wo khwaab kaisay doon jinhay tabeer karnay fundamental meri yay umr guzri hay
[my son has opened eyes in a new world, how can I impart my dreams, the ones I have dedicated my whole life to?]
The change of verses with Amjad sahib continued for a couple of minutes, and right away, recollections began flashing earlier than my eyes — of all of the occasions his poems, on life, love, loss of life, and all the things in between, got here as a rescue, in comfortable moments and the unhappy, and served as a bridge, when feelings demanded understanding and phrases and I used to be at a loss for each.
Through the shoot, his grandson, Musa Zeeshan additionally joined us. Amjab sahib gave the impression to be in love with Musa and requested him to recite a couple of Urdu verses for me. The baby had verses memorised by coronary heart and instantly began reciting them. Amjad sahib, sporting a proud smile, embraced him, applauding him for a job effectively accomplished, “shabash!” [well-done!] — and I turned witness to a second revealing its magnificence, expressing the purity of the love a grandparent shares with their grandchild, in eternity.
Gone but never forgotten
On new year’s day, Amjad sahib and I exchanged messages that I would later learn would be our last.
He was happy to use two of my portraits for the cover pages of his latest publications: Khwab Aur Khadshay [Dreams and Fears], and Qasid Kay Atay Atay [Till Qasid Comes]. Within the message, he, in his fatherly voice, blessed me along with his duas [blessings], telling me that he had saved his new books for me as amanat [in his care].
I’ve listened to his voice observe a few occasions because the information of his passing, excited about how fragile life is.
It’s ironic that in 2021, I shared his portrait that I took with the next phrases:
“This portrait was far more than taking part in with highlights and shadows. The japanese portray — mimicking a poet — juxtaposed with the time clock, evokes conflicting sentiments, each celebrating the dear existence of those literary figures of our occasions, and in addition realising that only a few of their variety are left to cherish. The clock thus provides a way of timelessness in relation to the artist and his literary works, but serves as a warning in relation to the time we’re continually shedding whereas holding on to such gems.
The stark distinction within the temper of the portrait and the feelings it evokes thus compliments the excessive distinction within the picture.“
With this, I depart you with Amjad sahib’s stunning phrases from Mohabbat ki ek nazm [A poem of love]
agar kabhi meri yaad aaye
gurez karti hava ki lahron pe haath rakhna
fundamental khusbuon mein tumhen milunga
mujhe gulabon ki pattiyon mein talash karna
fundamental os-qatron ke ainon mein tumhen milunga