In this literary essay, Salman Kureishy pays a personal tribute to Aamir Mufti’s perceptive analysis of Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s works where he talks about how the forlorn, despairing lover in the lyric poetry of Faiz Ahmed Faiz is also lamenting the loss of the composite culture of pre-Partition India.
It was September 1965. India and Pakistan were in their first full scale war. Patriots sang songs of valour and bravery across both sides of the border. Faiz, then fifty-four-year-old, was in Karachi. In the month between the start and end of the war, he penned two remarkable poems. One, “Blackout” was a lament. A lover feeling lost, groping in darkness, mixing memory of a lost love, evoking a culture that once was, with the desire for wholeness that Partition and this war seemed to foreclose. The other poem was a eulogy to a soldier in Hindavi, a language that originated in, and now belonged to, the ‘enemy’ territory. More on these two poems later.