….hai qais, meray baad.

14Jun11

since i have more or less completely lost whatever smattering of creative ability i once had, and since you have obviously not lost your desire to read my stuff, i will take the middle road, not the one robert frost (two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less travelled by) and junaid jamshed (hum kyun chalein uss rah par, jis rah par sab hee chalein) both advocated in what was their only moment of consensus – i’ll let you read one of my many unpublished drafts. you’re welcome.

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it has always been my attempt to write as one who has mastered the art of humour. this is not so much because i like to imagine readers falling off their office chairs while laughing at my jokes or because i’m one of those quack alternative medicine types who believe laughter gives you positive chi and drives out the ill winds blowing around your insides – indeed the less ill wind from your insides you release into the atmosphere the better, save your planet and all that jazz – but because a lifetime of following pakistani cricket can make you either want to cry or to laugh and if you opt to cry, then people, especially female people (and yes, contrary to poular belief, i do know a few) will say those blasphemous things like “it’s only a game” that shock you to your very core and have about as much medicinal value as table salt does on a festering wound. well, that’s not the only reason. i also try humour because i like humour. and because being even an extremely insignificant junior member of the club to which wodehouse and yousufi belong is one hell of an honour.

which is why most would assume that meer taqi meer isn’t exactly my cup of tea.

[note: not to distract you from the main topic but that analogy, like most analogies, doesn’t apply to yours truly, the great and mighty. i have never been a fan of tea. but when i say that you would assume that he isn’t my cup of tea i mean you would think that i would not normally enjoy something as morosely depressing as the poetry of meer taqi meer and khwaja meer dard, which though about as beautifully constructed and presented as poetry can be (or maybe even better than that) is not something that would instinctively remind you of dickens’ cheeryble brothers.]

[note 2: i would also like to stress that it is the poetry of meer that i am referring to as my cup of tea, not meer taqi meer the poet and definitely not meer taqi meer the man. the reason i stress this is that even in those days when what was taboo was very definitely taboo, there are traces of the more-sleazy-than-merely-dubious in meer’s verses. consider the following:

meer bhi kya saaday hain, beemar huay jis ke sabab
usee attaar ke launday se dawa laitay hain

meer is such a simpleton, that he takes his medicine
from the same perfumer’s apprentice who made him ill

to use the emoticon that has gained much currency from the works of hemlock and owl, o_O. i was never much good at paraphrasing or reference to context questions that popped up in my literature exams but even to the untrained eye, there is obviously something deeply wrong with that couplet, even if all indicators point towards the assumption that in a different age, meer would have been a heath ledger fan (brokeback mountain not batman). in any case, he should’ve used protection. let this be a lesson to you.]

but there is so much depth, so much beauty in his works that at times you just feel like wah wah-ing out loud, even if you’re merely reading a ghazal online from the workplace. of course, the depth and beauty are aspects that have been analysed down to their dna. and it certainly wouldn’t be fitting to add to that body of work in a collection called the samandar-e-bemaina. no. what i would like to talk about is his ego. in all of documented history, there have been few statements that would be more aptly called understatements than the words of  columbus’s first mate, “veo la tierra!” (i see land) on sighting the west indies. one of those statements would be to call meer an egotist.

you must know, before you continue to read this (assuming of course, that i’ve held you spell bound so far), that in all of cinematic history no character has come as close to being awesome as his royal majesty, king julian. conceit, when done well, is an art form that will entertain the best of them. meer took it to the next level.

during the medieval equivalent of a press conference, the great man (also known as shehenshah-e-ghazal and khuda-e-sukhan, king of ghazal and god of language, respectively) was asked how the outlook of urdu poetry looked to him. well, it didn’t look much too bright. he claimed that there were only 2 and a half poets who wrote in the urdu language viz. meer himself, his great contemporary khwaja meer dard and everyone else could be fit into the remaining “half”. the flabbergasted interviewer started reeling off dozens of names of the better known poets of the time including that of mir hasan, to which meer finally conceded:

“ponay teen keh lein”

(call it 2 and three quarters)

 that there is class for you. unwavering self belief. probably the reason why one of his best ghazals starts off with him throwing the gauntlet at the subcontinent’s best known romantic hero (for over a thousand years no less), qais ibn al mulawwah majnoon – ironically, an arab from najd.

aa ke sajjadah nasheen huwa hai qais meray baad

wah. no one could do that better.

 

 

 

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One Response to “….hai qais, meray baad.”

  1. 1 Owl

    o_O
    O_o
    o_o
    O_O


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