Remembering the lost voice – Majeed Amjad

I was thrilled to read about Majeed Amjad‘s amazing poetry on my friend Fawad’s blog. In his post titled Majeed Amjad – The Poet Less Remembered Fawad writes:

“In the post-Iqbal era of Urdu poetry there are few greater poets than Majeed Amjad….Even amongst the lovers of Urdu poetry his name is least likely to be recognized. Reading Majeed Amjad’s magnificent poetry I have often wondered how it is that some literary reputations get created from meager contributions but some people forever struggle to gain just acclaim.

In Majeed Amjad’s case I think it was a confluence of factors: he was a quiet, reserved introvert with no inclination for self-marketing. He lived away from the literary center of Lahore in small Punjabi towns like Sahiwal and Jhang and never had many influential advocates of his literary merits. But, perhaps more importantly, Majeed Amjad was not an ideological poet affiliated with one or the other group of literary luminaries who could beat their partisan drums on his behalf…”

Indeed Amjad is less remembered and this is only a metaphor of what sells in the world of Urdu Literature. He was neither a cheap romanticist nor an ideological zealot. He was truly original and therefore not easily brand-able. This is why the literati has found it difficult to place him in a ‘category’.

Fawad has posted an excerpt from the first poem – Harf-i-Awwal in the only collection of verse published in Majeed’s lifetime. Here is a feeble attempt at its translation:

First Word

From the onerous rocks of woes
I chiseled slabs to create
pavilions of my verse,
the bewildered sculptures of my thoughts

Even though
many songs and fables,
numerous issues
oozed from the tip of my pen
yet the tale of this heart
locked within the heart

Unremitting endeavour of twenty years
contemplative days and insomniac nights
what was the end-result:
This very yearning for expression

And the Urdu original –

DardoN ke is koh-e-garaaN se
MeiN ne tarashi, nazm kay eewaN
ki ik ik sil,
Ik ik soch ki hairaaN moorat …

Garche qalam ki nok se tapke
Kitne tarane, kitne fasane
Lakh masaail
Dil meiN rahi sub dil ki hikayat!

Bees baras ki kaawish-e-paiham
Sochte din aur jaagti raateiN
Un ka haasil:
Aik yahi izhaar ki hasrat!

Also found this poem on the web. Apologies to non-Urdu readers as I failed to translate this one. Maybe another time..

Amjad defies the boundaries of conformism, the mainstream was nervous to acknowledge him; and state and civil society being consenting bedfellows in Pakistan conveniently chose to ignore him. He is not known because his works were deliberately under-rated and brushed aside by media, literary critics and mini-mafias that rule Urdu literature across the globe. It was only when the independent and thoughtful Professor Khawaja M Zakariya of Lahore researched for years to compile and document his works, that Amjad re-appeared. Professor Khawaja’s labour of love is a befitting tribute to the fountain of creativity that Amjad is.

Fawad concludes:

“….. the last poem that I would like to quote in this piece is “Maqbara-e-Jahangir”. I was particularly reminded of this reading the poem Raza has posted on his blog with an allusion to Shalimar. Notice the wholly different tone of Majeed Amjad’s poem. His reaction to this beautifully historic sight is a deep sadness as he sees human beings (gardeners, people picknicking etc.) in this serene setting either struggling to get through the day or wholly oblivious to this fleeting existence.

Khurdre, maile, phate kaproN meiN boorhe maali
Yeh chaman band, jo guzre hue sultanoN ki
HaddiaN seench ke phulwariaN mehkate haiN
Ghaas kat ti hai ke din in ke kate jate haiN …

Teen sau saal se mabhoot khare haiN jo yeh sarv
In ki shakheiN haiN keh afaaq ke sheeraze haiN
Saf-e-ayyam ki bikhri hui tarteebeN haiN
In ke saaye haiN keh dhalti hui tehzeebeN haiN …

MarmareeN qabr ke ander, tahe zulmaat kahiN
Kurmak-o-Moor ke jabroN meiN salateeN ke badan
Koi dekhe, koi samjhe to is eewaN meiN jahaaN
Noor hai, husn hai, tazzayan hai, zeebaish hai
Hai to bus aik dukhi rooh ki gunjaish hai”

And Fawad: bhayya kahan hum aur kahan Majeed Amjad… Challo hamaree Shalimar kay qissay se aap ko yeh sub yaad tau aya…!

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