khud pe kia taari use
woh khwab jo apna na tha
(I let the dream take over me/ The dream that was not mine)
Harris Khalique is a poet of myriad sensibilities. Like his cosmopolitanism his poetry encompasses tradition and modernity; the urbane consciousness as well as snippets of the folk wisdom. As a bilingual poet, Khalique is even more important in a country partitioned between the two literary worlds: the native vernacular and the hip, well cut out English domain. A few months ago, I attended the launch of his new collection of poems, Melay Mein and heard the poet recite these poems. Reading and listening to poetry are two separate and distinct experiences. I re-read the slim volume, eight in his oeuvre and realized that Khalique had actually moved on.
The earlier bohemian and carefree Khalique, as he was a decade and a half ago when I first met him, is a different person in this collection. A more anguished soul can be detected under the layers of verse and rhyme. There is evidently a greater reconnection with the past as Khalique invokes the folk, the subliminal as well as the perennial metaphors of our consciousness such as Imam Husain (AS).
The poem that inspires the title is instructive. Melay Mein talks of a mother’s concerns whose child is lost in the maze of life. The pain in this poem is universal and so is the metaphor. Of losing the creativity and the fear of loss. Note the power of these lines:‘jiss ka bacha/ jahan-e baazi giraa’n ke melay mein/ kho gaya hai”. The world is cruel and uncertain and full of charlatans and this is what Khalique’s other poems in this collection also convey. In another poem Ghao, there is mention of dark worlds and demons: […]