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Born 92 years ago today, the Urdu poets's output over three decades was marked by two singular qualities: consistency and variety. The town of Phillaur in Ludhiana in Indian Punjab is an unremarkable town. Though bracketed as a fantasy comedy, the film, at least for this writer, had serious undercurrents running underneath its ostensibly light veneer — not least the relationship between art, the people and social change, as well as the fact that the Jallianwala Bagh incident provided a compelling backdrop to the film itself.
On closer inspection, however, one finds that it is at least two poets born in this seemingly ahistoric town, born almost a hundred years apart, who actually put this nondescript little place on the map. At a time when the best and brightest of Urdu poets vacillated between shabab and inquilab , romance and revolution — the two poles around which most of Urdu poetry has always gravitated — Ibne Insha spoke up steadfastly for both.
That Insha held his own against the formidable presence of the Progressives and romantics already firmly established in Lahore — Faiz, Rashid, Faraz, Jalib, Nasir Kazmi, Majeed Amjad, Mustafa Zaidi, Saghir Siddiqui — and kept writing within both the revolutionary and romantic strains, speaks volumes.
Insha himself puts it best when he says:. His poetry, published in collections titled Chand Nagar , Dil-e-Vehshi, Is Basti ke Ik Kooche Men , and a collection of poems for children called Billo ka Basta , has a distinctive diction laced with language reminiscent of Amir Khusro in its use of words and construction that is usually heard in the more earthy dialects of the Hindi-Urdu complex of languages.
Picked up by singers on both sides of the border, such as Amanat Ali Khan, the maestro of the Patiala gharana who beautifully sang the famous Insha-ji utho , and Jagjit Singh who sang Kal Chaudavi ki raat thi, shab bhar raha charcha tera , they show us an Insha returning to his familiar tropes, the temporariness of this world and worldly love itself. We are madmen, we abhor peace Mendicants have no place in a town. Cast a glance at your tattered soul Ponder awhile, with reason calm.
The night is done, the moon is down A strong secure chain locks your gate. Her beauty is a pearl, but I Can merely watch but dare not touch. Such treasure is hardly worth much, Eludes the grasp and haunts the eye. If city-dwellers forsake me Should I in forests seek respite? However, little known is the fact that he was one of the early supporters of the Progressive Writers Association PWA in undivided India and would undoubtedly have been one of its leaders had he lived long enough in independent Pakistan.
He also left behind about a dozen odd intensely political poems showing an uncanny awareness of the horrors of war and imperialism. For me, war is not a headline of any newspaper but it signifies fire and destruction, and a soldier is not merely a uniform, gun and medal, but a body and form of a son, brother and loved one. Here he comes across as a deeply political and prescient poet, a far cry from the anomie of his exquisite ghazals and the affability of his sophisticated humour:.
The storm is about to rise from the West There is still hope in the veiled lamp The atom with its embrace of a thousand upheavals The Adam whose collar is still torn with grief A peace which was found after offering a life A tear still luminous on the dead faces. The pension given to the brave soldier in return for which He is given a jerky crutch to one side A platoon which flew to reach the field Those loved ones who never returned from there That medal awarded after years of toil And is left shining on the chest of a corpse.
That tale left on the lips unsaid That longing entombed within the bosom The rush of thoughts which ceases all at once The body pressed within the empty hollows of the ditch The tanks will arrive to level the pile The unmarked graves will be overgrown by forests within two years.
The land of hearts brimming with pain The trembling chest, the spilled tear sometimes The elegant mention of some friend Alas! The fragrant flowers of how many past springs Today lies buried within the stench of corpses Blood issues from the wounds of cold bayonets.
That poison which will again dissolve in the soul That wound which arrives with news even of the heart Even now there will be a festival of the great Pir in the village Spring will come in the swaying fields But the flautist will not return by these lanes The pasture will not roar with his tunes. The turban of some bridegroom, a flower of some bed The burning lead, the edge of some bayonet The sorcerers of politics sitting at home With every morning newspaper held on their knees They think while reading the latest news About the increase or decrease in the cotton rates.
That morning which in the expanse of every mind Sows a row of unseen crosses The vomited poison of the news supplements Which just increases the pressure of horror The names on the lists begin to dance with impatience Eyes become tombs for unshed tears. Here there is no friend, companion or visitor.
The lotus eyes, the bookish face A tress which was dwelling in fragrance And when soldiers from far-away lands came The vulture won these stakes in the open field Korea informs us of so many desolations This place was a city, a village, a town. A singing bullet from a gun Targeting some unknown soldier A shadow left to writhe in some ditch Carrying years of his desires in his chest A strapping youth brought up in 22 springs A corpse which can rot within two days.
The embrace of the beloved, but death too Not possible to commit to both, simultaneously The melodious song of the stream, but napalm too Now should one befriend one, or the other? It is not difficult to choose between life and death Do not cloak straight talk with arguments.
Time is passing by Whims come knocking on the door of the heart The dove may yet be ready and full of lightness But a thousand miles until the bombers speed Sharpen; sharpen the melody of the song of peace The noise of the cannons is being heard from the far shore. The dashing heroes are out and about To make every village a Hiroshima Memories which neither become hazy nor erased And once again we are on the threshold of war Those Josephs will not be given to God They will set upon the same alien fields again.
The sky is unfortunate and dark, the stars sad The moon afraid of emerging out of the cloud The flame of the lamp of hope has been trembling for so long The heart is pressed within the passionate mass of clouds See far away that church gong struck The morning caravan arrives — but where?
Even before Insha was struck by the disastrous Arab defeat to Israel in , he travelled the Middle East. Whatever tragedy he saw unfolding in its bazaars and bylanes, he distilled his entire anguish in the form of a long poem, Baghdad Ki Ek Raat A Night in Baghdad , written exactly 70 years ago this year. A veritable modern Arabian Nights written at the cusp of the beginning of the Cold War, this poem today is starkly prescient in anticipating the humiliating subjugation of the Middle East by imperial powers, in league with its various shahs, emirs and tinpot dictators, many of whom are still in power.
Later in the poem, he wondered aloud whether the region was resigned to its benighted fate. Insha would have been elated at this development, and perhaps would have written a follow-up to his aforementioned poem. For lovers of Insha, as well as to aid a deeper understanding of the poet and humanist who was against war and all forms of imperial exploitation, and believed in a socialist future for mankind, a re-reading of this poem is vital:.
Those were halcyon days, everyone had leisure People used to live in kingly splendour Everyone used to have a magic lamp in their pocket, Djinns used to perform every task. Politics of oil and crude dominates the atmosphere, Even some caliph disguised as an oil trader Emerges from a Baghdad thoroughfare.
Till when will the city and desert nourish this hunger? Will no Prince deliver the counter-magic? Will someone suggest an escape route? To awaken the fate of Adam you do not need To invite the sorcerers of Babylon and Nineveh, so pay heed To keep the affairs in Egypt and Baghdad straightened, Their people will have to be awakened.
Raza Naeem is a Pakistani social scientist, book critic and award-winning translator and dramatic reader currently based in Lahore, where he is also the President of the Progressive Writers Association. He can be reached at: razanaeem hotmail. External Affairs. Become A Supporter. Hindi Marathi Urdu. Terms Privacy About Us.
Chand Nagar / چاند نگر
Chand Nagar By Ibne Insha Free Pdf Download
Chand Nagar By Ibn E Insha Urdu Books In PDF Free Download