Location: Baltimore, Maryland, United States

Studied in Govt. College, Lahore, Punjab University,Peshawar University & Zagreb University(Croatia). Started writing when in 7th class. Wrote prose & poetry,Have published writings in almost every Pakistani Urdu & English magazine and newspaper,held important positions in many literary and professional organizations. worked as a teacher, research scientist and industrial management professional, In the words of Arthur Miller I have always felt as being temporary. That is why there was no significant achievement.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


Dr Afzal Mirza

Ghubar-e-Ayyam is the last anthology of Faiz poems written between 1981 and 1984. These poems are also included in his bigger anthology entitled Nuskha Hae Wafa. The book begins with the Bedil’s Persian couplet:
Har kuja raftam ghubar-e- zindagi dar pesh bood
Yarab ien khak-e-pareeshan az kuja bardashtam
(Where ever I go the dust of life hangs in front of me. How could I bear this cloud of strewn dust). The contents of this short collection all represent a state of mind where the poet near the fag end of life reflects about his past and takes stock of his achievements and losses. Faiz as we know had lived an eventful life but the last years of his life were spent in exile in frustration and depression. Earlier he suffered incarceration at various stages in life. He was first imprisoned in March 1951 in connection with the Rawalpindi Conspiracy Case. This was a period of great stress for him because he could even face a death penalty for some of the charges against him. That is why he wrote:
Maqam Faiz koi rah mein jacha hi nahin
Jo koo-e- yaar se nikle to soo-e- daar chale
(Nothing attracted Faiz’s attention in between. Leaving the street of his lover he went straight to the gallows)
When Ayub Khan imposed martial law in the country he was among the first ones to be hauled up. So he remained behind the bars from December 1958 to April 1959. This also included some time spent in the notorious investigation center in Lahore Fort where every internee was subjected to third degree methods. It is in one of the cells here during that time that famous activist Hasan Nasir was tortured to death and it was declared that he had committed suicide. So when Pakistan came under Ziaulhaq’s ruthless regime Faiz thought it proper to leave the country and he remained in exile till late 1983. This time Faiz was saved by his old friend and co-accused of Rawalpindi Conspiracy Case Col. Arbab Niaz Muhammad who happened to be a minister in Ziaulhaq’s government.

Faiz had first time suffered a heart attack in 1967 and he recorded his feelings in a poem with the same title:
Dard itna tha keh us raat dil-ewehshi nein
Har rag-e-Jaan se ulajhna chaha
(There was so much pain that the wild heart wanted to clash with every vein of life)
And he ends his poem on these lines;
Aur jab yaad ki bujhti hui shamaon mein nazar aya kahin
Aik pal akhiri lamha teri dildari ka
Dard itna tha keh is se bhi guzarna chaha
Ham nein chaha bhi magar dil na theherna chaha
(And when in the dying lights of memory I found a last moment of your love
There was so much pain that I wanted to skip it. I wanted to sustain but the heart was not prepared to do it)
Then in 1972 Faiz wrote a poem entitled “Jis roz qaza aye gi” (The day death will come).It shows that even in those days when Faiz was advising ZAB government as Cultural Adviser the earlier set backs of his life had left a deep impression on him. So he started thinking about death again with which he had a brush earlier during 1950s. However this time it was due to heart ailment. He surmised:
Kis tarah aye gi jis roz qaza aye gi
Shayad is tarah keh jis taur kabhi awwal-e-shab
Be talab pehle pahal marhamat-e-bosa-e-lab
( How would it come when the death would come. Perhaps like this that some one in the early night offers a kiss without asking).
His vision of death is both a benign one and painful. That is why he concludes his poem with these lines:
Jis tarah aye gi jis roz gaza aye gi
Khah qatil ke tarah aye keh mahboob sifat
dil se bas hogi yehi harf-e-widaa ki surat
lillahah alhamd ba-anjam-e- dile dilzadgan
Kalma-e-shukr banam-e-labe shireen dahanan
(It could come either like a killer or like a beloved; But on my lips there will be praise for the heartbroken people and words of thanks for those having sweet lips)

But in Ghubar-e-ayyam Faiz opens his book with a poem Tum hi kahjo kiya karna Hae(You should tell me what can be done). The poem was written in 1981. The poem covers the struggle of those progressive people who together with Faiz had dreamt of an egalitarian future for Pakistan and had made sacrifices. He remembers that when they had embarked upon this journey they were young and full of promise. They had thought that achieving their goal would be an easy task. But this did not happen. There were so many unforeseen counter forces that impeded the struggle. ”Now we may analyze our failure and blame any body for it but the fact remains that it is the same river and the same boat and you have to tell what to do to treat these wounds on the chest of the country” he concludes. In another poem written the same year Faiz lamented that we couldn’t do anything because while the others were waging a struggle we kept silently watching:
Ham na is saf mein the aur na us saf mein the
Raste mein kahrre un ko takte rahe
Rashk karte rahe
Aur chup chaap ansoo bahate rahe
(We were neither in this line nor that
We kept standing and watching them on the way
Watching them enviously
And shedding tears quietly)

Faiz who had spent most of his time in Beirut editing a magazine named Lotus decided to return to Pakistan in 1983 a year before his death. His health had further deteriorated because he witnessed the worst type of holocaust in that civil war torn country where he was most of the time confined to his apartment as the war waged outside. It is here that he met his famous admirers Dr Eqbal Ahmad and Edward Said. For Eqbal Ahmad, a poem by Faiz Ahmad Faiz, "Dawn of Freedom", captured the pathos of decolonization. In 1980 Ahmad introduced Edward Said to Faiz who was in exile in Beirut, and their oft-recalled evening of poetry recitation inspired Said's essay, "The Mind of Winter: Reflections on Life in Exile". Back in Lahore Faiz’s spirit regaled although he was in and out of hospital. Lahore appeared gloomy and sad to him:
Go sab ko bham saghar-o-bada to nahin tha
Yeh shehr udas itna ziyada to nahih tha
Thak kar yunhi pal bhar ke liye aankh lagi thi
So kar hi na utthein yeh irada to nahin tha
(Although every one did not have the privilege of enjoying drinks
but this city was not so sad earlier as now. Having tired I closed my eyes for a few moments. That I would never wake up was not my intention).
In Mayo Hospital he wrote a poem entitled Is waqt to yun lagta hae (It seems like this at present). It reflected the feelings of a person in a state of limbo.:
Is waqt to yun lagta hae ab kucch bhi nahin hae
Mehtab na suraj na andhera na savera
(It seems at present as if there is nothing around
The moon or the Sun darkness or the morning)
But he is not intimidated by the situation he is in:
Mana keh yeh sunsan gharrri sakht karri hae
Laikin mere dil yeh to faqat ik hi gharri hae
Himmat karo jeene ko to ik umr parri hae
True that this desolate moment is greatly testing
But o my heart it’s just a single moment
Be strong you have a lifetime to live)
In another incomplete poem Yeh kis dayar-e-adam mein…. Faiz has expressed similar sentiments saying “ In a strange atmosphere of intoxication we are lost my friend where neither the sound of the drinking buddies nor the sound of breaking of a heart could be heard.”

Then during the same period he penned his poem Idhar na dekho (Don’t look here) in which he lamented that all those who had at one time represented a spirit of struggle and bravery are now sold out to the forces of reaction but look towards those “ who offered the Dinars of their blood for free and when they were gone lying in their graves they look generous and magnanimous and also look towards those who decorated their bodies with the crosses of truth and are now prophets among the people.” And there is a ghazal that Faiz wrote a few days before his death that read:
Bohat mila na mila zindagi se kam kiya hae
Mata-e-dard baham hae to besh-o-kam kiya hae
Kare na jag mein alao to sheir kis masraf
Kare na shehr mein jalthal to chashm-e-nam kiya hae
Ajal ke haath koi aa raha hae parwana
Na jane aaj ki fehrist mein raqam kiya hae
He pointed out that “some note is coming through the hands of death and we don’t know what is written in it.” And it came on November 20, 1984. (End)


Anonymous Fatima Bapumia said...

very useful

4:45 AM  
Anonymous Sajjad Iqbal, M.D. said...

Excellent piece, most informative. Thank you.

9:42 PM  
Anonymous Syed Ahmed said...

Very informative. Knowledge of the condition in which a prticular poem was written is very important to understanding and appreciating its beauty. I see shades of Keats in the closing poems of Faiz,"I have been half in love with easeful Death, Called him soft names in many a mused rhyme". As a Pakistani I feel sad that we persecuted this gentle and loving person to death.

1:56 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Mehrbani karke iska tarjuma Urdu me kijiye.

6:09 AM  
Anonymous Mehar Zariwala said...

Lovely Post! Always a treat to read his poetry.

6:00 AM  

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