When Spring Comes, it Brings Memories of Faiz and his Poetry

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When Spring Comes, it Brings Memories of Faiz and his Poetry

Monday, 11 February 2019 | JASKIRAN CHOPRA | Dehradun

The great poet, Faiz Ahmad faiz was born in the spring of 1911 (February 13) and  it is perhaps no coincidence that many of his ghazals and nazms talk on spring time (bahaar) , the most famous of them all being “Gulon mein rang bharey, baad e naubahaar chaley, chaley bhi aao ke gulshan ka kaarobaar chaley.” This has been sung beautifully by the renowned ghazal singer Mehdi Hassan .His rendition has made the poetry of Faiz immortal.

In 2012, the centenary celebrations of Faiz were held all around the world, culminated with  larger than life tributes paid to his unique poetic genius. His verse has remained as fresh as the morning dew even more than a hundred years after his birth. And it shows no signs of fading away from the hearts of poetry lovers the world over.

In 1916, Faiz entered Moulvi Ibrahim Sialkoti, a famous regional school, and was later admitted to the Skotch Mission High School where he studied Urdu, Persian, and Arabic. He received a Bachelor’s degree in Arabic.  Faiz went to Amritsar as a lecturer in 1935 after doing his Masters from Government College Lahore.  Saadat Hasan Manto, the controversial Urdu short story writer, who was about a year younger than Faiz , was his student at the college.

Faiz recounted that  Manto rarely ever came to class. One day Faiz asked him, in his typical style ‘Kyun bhai, class main nahin aatay, kya kartay ho sara din?’(‘Why do you never come to class, what do you do all day’?) to which Manto replied that he spent his time translating stories and novels from English to Urdu. Faiz asked him to bring some samples of his translations to class which Manto did after which Faiz said, “Fine, you don’t have to come to class, keep doing what you are doing.” Only a poet and writer of the stature of Faiz could have said such to a student.

When Manto died in his early forties in 1955, Faiz wrote to his  wife, Alys (Faiz’s wife), “I was very sad to hear of Manto’s death. In spite of all his shortcomings, he was very dear to me and I am proud that he was my student in Amritsar, though mostly in name only, he rarely came to class. However, we used to meet often at my home and we would argue over Maupassant, Chekov, Freud and God knows who else.”  Faiz defended Manto against the charges levelled against him by the Progressives, not necessarily because he admired Manto’s art and his convictions (which he did, to some extent) but because he believed that freedom of speech and expression was a basic human right and should be defended at all costs.

During the years in Amritsar as a teacher (1935-42), Faiz carved for himself the role that he was to play to the end of his life. He joined a group of forward-looking writers in founding the Progressive Writers’ Association (PWA).  His service at MAO College gave him the opportunity of coming closer to Sahibzada Mahmud-uz-Zafar, principal of MAO College and Dr Rasheed Jahan, who had their home in the  Doon valley. Both were among the pioneers of Progressive Writers' Movement in India. Faiz  was greatly  influenced by them and became an active member of the association. So the second part of Naqsh-e-Faryadi depicts the change in his thinking that came with his coming into contact with progressive writers. Thus begins the period of Faiz's poetry with a purpose. He also developed a liking for Sajjad Zaheer and this friendship lasted till the last breath of Sajjad Zaheer.

Faiz’s love for teaching Literature was as important a part of his personality as was his need to express his deepest feelings in the purest Urdu.

Faiz  has lived and will live on in the hearts of millions of poetry lovers across the world. He grew up surrounded by literature with a father who was a friend to many writers, including Muhammad Iqbal.     

 Faiz can be described as a “cross-cultural” poet. Influences like Keats, Shelley and Byron  were rapidly assimilated by the young Faiz into his own tradition. This was quite natural as Faiz studied and taught English Literature and his knowledge of it was profound.   At the same time, he was imbued with the Sufi ideals of Hafiz and Rumi  and all the great  Urdu poets . As it is now spring time and as this great poet was born in spring, it would be apt to quote from his “nazm” on the arrival of spring.

Bahaar Aaee  To Jaise Ek Baar

Laut Aaye Hain Phir Adam Se

Wo Khwaab Saare, Shabaab Saare

Jo Tere Honton Pe Mar Mite Thhe

Jo Mitt Ke Har Baar Phir Jiye Thhe

Nikhar Gaye Hain Gulaab Saare…….

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