Our political fictions

By Sarah Humayun

I have seen lines from Faiz’s poem Nisar main teri galiyon ke quoted to give voice to the helplessness of some who are protesting the abductions. But, in that poem, even though the speaker watches out furtively for his body and life — nazar churaā ke chale jism o jaañ bachaā ke chale — he sounds sure of speaking to others like himself from this side of the bars. It’s a hopeful song of imprisonment, seeing its own condition as one of separation from the romanticised watan whose evenings and mornings he continues to decipher and imagine — chamak uThe haiñ salasil to ham ne jaanaā hai — from the darkening and illumination of his prison cell. There is a connection between the other world and his prison netherworld, and his ‘ahd-e-vafaā, keeping of faith, sounds sure of being heard in that other world.

The confidence of being heard, in its fear and hope, is what I hear in the poem.

Salman Haider’s chilling words in Safhe se Baher Ek Nazm are completely outside the frame of this redeeming prisonhouse. Unfathomable distance away from Faiz’s words, he speaks not of stealing away his body in fear like his compatriots who observe the custom of the land, but of disappearing like others, like others becoming a file that will be taken to court, or a photograph that his son will kiss for the journalist’s benefit, or the silence his wife will wear.  Read more

Source: The News On Sunday

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