May 12, 2008

Remembering Kaifi sahib

This weekend in Mumbai Shabana Azmi and Javed Akhtar commemorated the sixth anniversary of Kaifi Azmi's death with a re-release of a recording of Kaifi sahib reciting a number of his poems. Reports here and here. I haven't yet seen any pictures of this event but I'll let you know if that changes.

Shabana ji has been deeply inspired by her father and often cites two of his poems in particular, Aurat ("woman")and Makaan ("home, shelter") as particularly moving to her. The DNA India article about the re-release includes some lines from Aurat:

Jannat ek aur hai jo mard ke pahluu mein nahin
Uski aazaad ravish par bhi machalnaa hai tujhe
Uth meri jaan mere saath hi chalnaa hai tujhe
There is another heaven which is not by men's side
You must persist along its free paths as well
Arise, my love; you must walk with me.
There is a video interview I have linked elsewhere on this blog - I am not at the moment remembering which one it is, perhaps the Charlie Rose interview - in which Shabana ji talks about what a remarkable idea this poem expresses, and how far ahead of its time. Because sixty years ago, even the vanguard of the progressive movement was still overwhelmingly male; the men went out to fight for human rights and freedom from oppression, but even they expected their women to keep to their traditional duties. Yet here was Kaifi sahib exhorting his companion to march and fight by his side. It's no surprise that Shabana ji remembers this poem with pride.

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