The year 2011 has officially been declared the ‘Faiz Centenary Year’. Faiz Ahmed Faiz – the first Asian poet to receive the Lenin Peace Prize (awarded by the Soviet Union in 1963) was also nominated for the Nobel Prize shortly before his death in 1984.
One of the poems of Faiz in the voice of Zia Mohiuddin, which is quite appropriate to the scenario that our society is presenting today is what I’d like to share here:
Nisar Main teri galiyon ke aey watan ke jahan
chali hai rasm keh koi na sar utha kay chalay..
jo koi chahnay wala tawaf ko niklay
nazar chura kay chalay, jism-o-jaan bacha kay chalay..
hai ahl-e-dil kay liye ab yeh nazm-e-bast-o-kushaad
ke sang-e-wakhast muqayyad hain aur sag azaad..
Bohot hai zulm kay dast-e-bahana joo kay liye
jo chand ahl-e-junoon tera naam lewa hain
banein hain ehl-e-hawas, mudda’ii bhi, munsif bhi
kisay wakeel karein, kis se munsafi chahein..
magar guzaarne walon kay din guzartay hain
teray firaaq mein yun subh-o-shaam kartay hain
bujha jo rozan-e-zindaan tu dil yeh samjha hai
keh teri maang sitaaron se bhar gayi hogi
chamak uthay hain salasil tu hum nay jana hai
ke ab sahar tere rukh per bikhar gayi hogi
gharz-e-tasawwar-e-shaam-o-sahar mein jeetay hain
girift-e-saaya-e-deewar-o-dar mein jeetay hain
yunhi hamesha ulajhti rahi hai zulm se khalq
na in ki rasm nayi, na apni reet nayi
yunhi hamesha khilaye hain hum nay aag mein phool
na un ki haar nayi hai na apni jeet nayi
isi sabab say falak ka gila nahin kartay
tere firaaq mein hum dil bura nahin kartay
gar aaj tujh se juda hain tu kal bhem hongay
yeh raat bhar ki judaayi tu koi baat nahin
gar aaj auj pe hai taali’-e-raqqeb tu kia
yeh chaar din ki khudaayi tu koi baat nahin
jo tujh se ehd-e-wafa ustawaar rakhtay hain
ilaaj-e-gardish-e-lail-o-nahar rakhtay hain
My salutations to thy sacred streets, O beloved nation!
Where a custom ‘that none shall walk with his head held high’ has been invented
And if a devotee yearns to go on pilgrimage
Then He must walk, with eyes lowered & body crouched in fear
The heart is in a tumultuous wrench at the sight
Of stones and bricks locked away and mongrels breathing free
In this tyranny that has many an excuse to perpetuate itself
Those crazy few that have nothing but thy name on their lips
Facing those power crazed that both prosecute and judge, wonder
To whom does one turn for protection, from whom does one expect justice?
But those whose fate it is to live through these times
Spend their days in thy mournful memories
When hope begins to faint, my heart has often conjured
Your forehead sprinkled with stars
And when my chains have glittered
I have imagined that dawn must have burst upon thy face
Thus one lives in the memories of thy dawns and dusks
Imprisoned in the shadows of the high prison walls
Thus always has the world grappled with tyranny
Neither their rituals nor our rebellion is new
Thus have we always grown flowers in fire
Neither their defeat, nor our final victory, is new!
Thus we do not blame the heavens
Nor let bitterness seed in our hearts (in times of parting)
We are separated today, but one day shall be re- united
This separation that will not last beyond tonight, bears lightly on us
Today the power of our exalted rivals may touch the zenith
But these four days of omniscience (power) too shall pass
Those that love thee keep, beside them
The cure of the pains of a million heart- breaks