It Has Been Written

Last night I stumbled upon this translation of Parveen Shakir’s poem (Navishta) rendered by C M Naim. This is where she addresses her only son on the perils of living with a famous mother. Parveen was extraordinary and her poems continue to cajole, haunt and address the readers.
“. . . then Zaid cursed Bakar, ‘Your mother
is more well known than your father!’ ”

My son,
this curse is your fate too.
In a fathers’ world you too, one day,
must pay a heavy price
for being known by your mother,
though your eyes’ color, your brow’s
and all the curves your lips create
come from the man
who shared with me in your birth,
yet alone gives you significance
in the eyes of the law-givers.
But the tree that nurtured you three
must claim one season as its own,
to comb the stars, turn thoughts into
make poems leapfrog your ancestors’ walls . . .
a season that Mira couldn’t send away,
nor could Sappho.
Now it must be this family’s fate
that you should frequently feel abashed
before your playmates, and that your
must grin and bear it among his friends.
The name on the doorbell means
the world knows you by one name

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About admin

Raza Rumi is a freelance writer from Lahore, Pakistan. He regularly writes for the Pakistani weekly The Friday Times, The News and Daily DAWN on myriad topics such as history, arts, literatue and society. Raza blogs at Jahane Rumi - a website devoted to Sufi thought, the arts, literature, and cultures of South Asia. Raza also edits a cyber-magazine Pak Tea House; and compiles the Development Industry blog . Specialties: Raza is also regular writer at All Things Pakistan, Desicritics, and Global Voices. Raza has worked in Pakistan and abroad in various organizations including multilateral institutions such as the United Nations.

  • Kazim Aizaz Alam

    Wah, wah… kya kehney.

  • Faroha

    very true….it depicts a woman’s feelings in a man’s world

  • Vandana

    Thanks for posting this here.I can only wonder how much more poignant must the original words must be.

  • IMeMy

    I’m a trifle confused…
    what is the woman’s take on the situation; I don’t read a protest or an affront. I almost sense an apology there! perhaps it’s a cultural block that prevents me from understanding the piece.
    …don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed the poem, it’s just the stance of the speaker that piques me.

  • Manpreet

    Great sharing,
    thanks Raza,

  • Dastagir

    I had read Parveen Shakir, a little ! Today i want to go beyond Parveen, per se., and comment on the larger issue. Why cant we produce ORIGINAL world-class work ? It is because we are not honest with our feelings. The way we perceive, feel and express is all devoid of INGENUITY. It is all made-up., dressed-up., dolled. It is not true ! Why this happened ?

    Every nation has its character trait. The Indian Sub-continent has been the centre of idol-worship for centuries. This duality… buying something made by man for Rs. 100-., and bringing the idol home… and calling it God.. and seeking its help ! Even the most educated people do it. Some say., well the Idol is just a means to focus… on the un-seen… (sort of an intermediary / focusing target). Whatever it may be., we are not able to produce WORLD-CLASS work.

    Muslims need 2 things (who am I to suggest something ?). Unity and Education…. and i know, both are not possible…. but i cant resist writing – inspite of knowing that nothing will change. They have demolished girls schools in Swat Valley, Pakistan. That means women are simply to be child-factories or hatcheries ! This sick fundamentalist world-view (whether it is green or safforn) will lead to enslavement. The Myth of Freedom is very fragile. If nations do not behave well., they are enslaved.

    Parveen Shakir is not of the same class as Pablo Neruda… but we must not let down our locals… Yes we are ugly (both in looks and in product)., but we must maintain the attempt. Continue producing shoddy work., until we are able to produce world-class literature.

    Muslims are an uneducated lot – and they are NOT inclined towards academia. So., end result is daily insult like Gaza., Togadia., Narendra Modi, Le Pen., etc. Muslims will be blamed for acts not committed by them… for the simple reason that they are vulnerable.

    Jinnah had said that he did not want Indian Muslims to suffer the fate of negroes of America. Barack Obama is now the President of USA…. and the condition of Indian muslims (3 rags…) is there for all to see. Had they been united., Delhi……………

  • Naveed Siraj

    RR – Had posted this some time ago.

    Dastagir – From what I gather from your comment, could i suggest the following

    a) we follow your own advice and start reading. we will ourselves get an answer whether Parveen Shakir is the same class as Pablo Neruda. To me personally this class comparison is not fair. For this comparison to be fair, we have to be well-versed with Urdu and Spanish at the same time and see it in the social context. For this we have to read

    b) we follow your own advice and start reading. there is a lot that is being written in Pakistan. There is a lot that has been written by our poets especially our classical poets. what you indicate about our lack of ingenuity can be answered if you read Faiz which has a fantastic take on even the most basic human emotions. For this we have to read

    c) we follow your own advice and start reading. People in Pakistan just take a small step of being good human beings first. Being a Muslim would come naturally once we are civil in our daily lives. This fixation about being a good muslim and being the victim unfairly accused of all the ills in the world will get resolved if we we follow your own advice and start reading

  • Vandana

    Dastagir idol worshipping can nver be understood by those who already live by the beilef that idol-worshipping is evil and idol worshippers are worse still.

    May I humbly suggest that do not comment on issues that you neither understand nor are willing to understand.

    And regarding Muslims needing unity and education… is that realted to or equated to idol worshipping? How does that form of worship connect to producing non-world class stuff? You could blam epoor and unimaginative educational system for it.Why bring in religion??
    And to restate it for you what you say you have already heard a million times.”We do not worship idols,we worship via idols”.How hard is that to understand?

  • RR

    Dear friends: I am glad that you visited and read Shakir’s poem. Her tone is unique and carries a sensibility that is not overtly ideological yet it says a lot of stuff – at a human level.

    Id: the tone is not apologetic – it is a simple case of preparing her son to face some tough questions as a single parent child in a society where single motherhood is a stigma and fraught with social complexities.

    Naveed: the poem on your blog is beautiful and thanks for sharing it here. Your responses to Dastgir Saheb are also poignant and I hope he takes note of them.

    Vandana ji – thanks for adding value here.

    And now Dastgir saheb, are you not getting a little carried away – with due apologies. As they say history is brutal and whatever happened to Muslims was in large measure the result of their own short sightedness. We face the grim reality of three states with large Muslim populations and hatreds everywhere. We have to undo these trends through mutual respect and killing the demons of communalism. This is the way forward in my humble opinion.
    This is why peace in South Asia and especially between India and Pakistan is so vital for all communities including the Muslims.

  • Dastagir

    Vandana grasped the CRUX of my argument (which was made in self-analytic and self-critical spirit). I am blaming myself before i go into a blame game.

    Carvan ke dil se ahsaas-e-ziyaan jaata raha.

    Naturally loss to hoga. We have lost a civilisation. I simply cannot produce a plastic smile.

    Q : How does that form of worship connect to producing non-world class stuff? [I write with a lot of speed… i dont have the luxury of time to “edit” and compact my writing !].

    A : Aah. Vandana has the answer… and i wish she give it utterance from the inner recesses of her soul. I am sure she will word it, better than I.

    This is not to critique idol-worship., but the whole cultural temperament of SE Asia (where the dominant influence is Idol Worship). This DUALITY produces HYPOCRICY in behavior., literature, attitudes. Great philosophy combined with severe barbarianism. The contradiction of great classical music, accompanied with child-burning. All within one person. How that “contradiction” came into being… It is because of the confusion of DUALITY that resides in the man. That DUALITY serves as a justification-blanket for a lot of dirty work committed while on stay on earth.

    Someone develop this thought… and give it better expression.

    Hindus cannot understand the working of the muslim mind, because Hinduism remained within the Indian shores in its history. It is only over the past century that are migrating.

    Time and again., Hinduism/Hindus come into the picture when i address problems with Muslim socities., because :

    1. India is a big country, and is (CAN) buying arms [Economies of scale]… There is a 24×7 threat looming on Paksitan’s head (survival). ALL options are open before India. If a cat dies on the road in India, ISI/Pakistan is to be blamed. Indian Population is growing at a fast rate. Is the ISI/Pakistan to be balmed for that ? There is a scene in Shyam Benegal’s “WELCOME TO SAJJANPUR”… wherein a Muslim gentleman withdraws his Nomination Papers (for the Village Panchayat Sarpanch post)., because the Thakur spreads the rumour., “This man is a ISI Agent”. The poor man does not even know what ISI stands for ! HAHAHA. India’s behaviour is childish. its machismo (manliness) comes into display only vis-a-vis Pakistan. Elsewhere it becomes conciliatory and docile ! Is there a human desire to take revenge against the former masters ? Sociologist may address this.

    Muslim Education / Reniassance is close to my heart. When i criticise Parveen Shakir., (vis-a-vis Pablo)., it is not so much to undermine her. She fades into the background. What emerges is an inherent desire, that wants to see better work. I am not content with what i have. Faiz is great, no doubt., but no more. We have to keep producing new icons. Ghalib was great… world-class… We have to keep producing people of fine creativity.

    RSS and Mullah are like 2 stones., grinding 50% of Muslim Ummah. (16 crores Indian Muslims + 16 Crore Pakistani + 16 crore Bangladeshi). How can i neglect this reality… Muslim reniassance ki baat aayegi.. to yeh CRUX ho jaata hai.

    When i read that schools are being demilished, my sadness is darkened… and gloom heightened. On the one side i see Bal Thackerey / Narendra Modi / Togadia / Singhal / VHP / Durga Vahini / Bajrang Dal / mobs armed with Trishuls bent on rape and murder… in batches of 5000 goons… and on the other side… i see the Turbaned Mullah… destroying schools…. naturally it is nerve-wrecking.

    The Mullah is bad…. and so is RSS. RSS terrorism must be exposed. The dirty work RSS is doing for the past 60 years… there must be world-class disclosures about RSS in the US Congress Library… Muslim societies are ruled by puppet regimes., the “ELITE” is totally westernised…. Masses are simply statistics… I wonder… what fear Samuel Huntington had when he wrote about the Clash of Civilisations… where is the clash… Muslim world is already colonised (thru its appointed Viceroys); the Elite is completely sold out… and masses are fools !

    Education… Education… and Education…. inspite of RSS threat of “all options are open”., and the Mullah that destroys institutions.

    Raat mazeed tareek ho jaati hai. I am not going to eat ice-cream and feel comfortable and go to bed. There is a sense of loss… and a sense of un-easiness., that robs my tongue the sense of taste.

  • Vandana

    Thanks RR for you comment.
    Dastagir sahib thoda aur carry away ho gaye in answering my comment.His little speech on duality and linking it to idol worship and Hindus not travelling overseas etc makes no sense to me atleast(he forgot that most of far east was Hindu before it turned buddhist and Islamic…so travel to bahut hua hai).
    Anyway I am not answering this because I believe that Faith is a deeply personal thing and a spiritual connection of one to the Creator.How any individual forges that spiritual connection and via which religion is his /her choice(usually determined by accident of birth).The practices and beliefs of one religion are often anathema to followers of another religion.If any peace is to be achieved in South Asia then we have to start from genuine acceptance of the each others religion and not mere’tolerance’.

  •,6351 Kamasutra