Tag Archives: Faiz Ahmed Faiz

Citizen of the world

He wanted variety and could not confine himself to a uni-dimensional career or vocation. Other than being a rare blend of East and West, Patras exemplified the modern man – searching for new meanings in life and experimenting with experiences


This December witnessed a literary landmark of post-internet Pakistan.A dedicated website – www.patrasbokhari.com– on Patras Bokhari, a towering literary figure, was launched at the Government College University, Lahore. It is well-known that the GC produced world-famous personalities while it was the leading educational institution in this part of the subcontinent, but its stature as a hub of education, culture and literary regeneration declined over the years. Some observers hold, however, that the recently increased autonomy and elevation of GC to the status of a university will reverse the decline. It was the glorious tradition of this institution that produced giants such as Patras, Faiz and Iqbal, amongst many others.

Prof Syed Ahmed Shah Bokhari (1898-1958) is most famous through his penname “Patras” Bokhari. While he was a first-rate educationist, broadcaster and diplomat, perhaps his lasting fame is the result of his stature as an inimitable essayist and humourist – a rare trait amongst the mourning and elegy-prone South Asian creed. Patras Ke Mazameen , immortal as they are, set the standard for high quality, incisive satire and humour. Unlike the medieval mores of literature being the preserve of the courts and its courtiers, these essays reach out to everyone, encompassing a modern sensibility that makes them pertinent and attractive even today. There is a distinct universality in these writings that perhaps had to do with the humane and cosmopolitan side of Patras himself. The compelling evidence of this aspect was his huge success as a diplomat when he served as Pakistan’s permanent envoy at the United Nations in the early 1950s, enabling him to be titled ‘a citizen of the world.’

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Jaipur, Faiz and Ali Sethi

Ali Sethi recently attended the Jaipur literary festival and his extraordinary performance is now accessible to those who were not there. I should thank him for sharing this video. Ali’s instructions were also meticulous but I will not post them here except his concluding comment: the whole of the rest of the session is fantastic, and includes an excellent performance by Shabana Azmi as well as a very funny story told by Javed Akhtar about his first meeting with Faiz Sahib..

Click and enjoy!

Jaipur Literature Festival 2010

This night bitten dawn

By Raza Rumi

The triumph of a popular movement on March 16 has marked a new beginning. The retreat of an intransigent government and the wise response by the PML-N and the lawyers averted a major crisis that could have been violent, and also a potential recipe for harming the parliamentary system in its infancy. There was a sigh of relief among the public for a long-standing issue appeared to have been resolved. This has been a monumental achievement by all standards.

However, the inherent imbalances within Pakistan’s power structure and the state of its polity are yet to be addressed and the contradictions of how our power is exercised stared us as the good news rolled out through the ubiquitous TV channels and their zealous presenters. The way quintessentially political issues and turf-wars between the PPP and PML-N were battled and resolved through a stage-managed process only concealed the bitter power-realities of Pakistan. Continue reading

Du’aa (Prayer) on the Independence Day

This moving poem by Faiz was written forty years ago and still sounds so fresh and relevant…

Du’aa (Prayer) — A nazm for Pakistan’s Independence Day, 1967

Come, let us join our hands in prayer.
We, who can not remember the exact ritual
We, who, except the passion and fire of Love,
do not recall any god, remember no idol.

Let us beseech, that may the Divine Sketcher
mix a sweet future in the present’s poison
For those who can’t bear the burden of time,
the rolling of days on their souls, may He lighten

Those, whose eyes don’t have in their fate, the rosy cheek of dawn
may He set for them some flame alight.
For those, whose steps know no path
may He show their eyes some way in the night.

May those whose faith is following falsehood and pomp
have the courage to deny, the boldness to discover.
May those whose heads wait for the oppressors sword
have the ability to push off the hand of the executioner.

This secret of Love, which has put the soul on fire,
may we express it today and the burning be gone.
This word of Truth that pricks in the core of the heart,
may we say it today and the itching be gone.

(Faiz translated by Agha Shahid Ali)

Here’s the Urdu version –

aayeh hath uthein hum bhi
hum jinhein rusm-e du’aa yaad nahin
hum jinhein soz-e muhabat ke siwa
koi buth, koi khuda yaad nahin

aayeh urz guzarein keh nigar-e hustee
zehar-e imroz mein shirenya furda bhar de
wo jinhein taab-e garaan bary-a iyaam nahin
un ki pulkoon peh shaub-e roz ko hulka ker de

jin ki aankhoon ko roz-e subh ka yaara bhi nahin
un ki raatoon mein koi shuma munawar ker de
jin ke kadumoon ko kisi reh ka sahara bhi nahin
un nazroon peh koi raah ujagar ker de

jin ka deeN pariw-e kizb-o riya hai un ko
himet-e kufr mile, jurat-e tehqiq mile
jin ke sir muntazar-e tegh-e jafa hein un ko
dust-e qatil ko jatuk deenay ki taufiq mile

ishq ka sir-e nihaaN jaan tapaaN hai jis se
aaj iqrar karein aur tapish mit jaa’e
hurf-e haq dil mein khatakta hai jo kante ki turhaaN
aaj izhar karein aur khalish mit jaa’e

Another favourite of mine is Ustad Daman’s immortal poem in Punjabi about the sorrows of partition that we often forget while celebrating this day. Millions had to leave their homes, were killed or hurt – and this bloodline still continues to haunt us…