Saturday, March 6, 2010

Celebrating Parveen Shakir: Poetess for Our Day

from Urdu Poetry Forum,internet images and various blogposts

The following is inspired by and reposted from the website of Mr. Akhtar Wasim Dar who is a scholar/writer among many other gifts. (Find his URLS and credit to others below) Yes, some of you into linear chronology may look at his date and then at this one...Yes writers, readers and lovers of poetry do tricks with time!)

Akhtar Wasim Dar Sahib wrote (in the future): Woman of Substance

Today is international Day for Women, and a perfect time to remember our Woman of substance Parveen Shakir(1952-1994) a poetess of extreme caliber, style, passion and talent. A woman petite and fragile in looks but like a rock in her principle stands towards life and the values she stood for. Living in a society where women were still fighting for their basic rights, her femininity was not a limiting factor when it came to express her point of view in poetry or prose. She was popular both with critics and public because of ingenuity of her words and the skill that tuned the right chords.

Her poetics works Khushboo(Fragrance)
Sudburg(Marsh Marigold)
Inkar(Refusal) is a journey of a young idealist girl to a woman of substance.

by Parveen Shakir

Listen, Girl, These moments are clouds:
You let them Pass and they are gone .
Soak up their moist touch .
Get drenched .
Don’t waste a single drop.
Listen, Downpours don’t remember streets ,
And sunshine Can’t read Road signs

End Post by Akhtar Wasim Dar Sahib found on his website - Plz bookmark and see his site often - My Page On the Web Go - HERE and/or Go - HERE

NOTE & apology: Sir Dar's post was beautiful and perfect just as it was so I trust he will forgive me for extending the content...Perhaps it's a fault of women who love such beautiful writing and accomplishments - to want to keep learning and reading more about and by such sisters of literature, heart and soul?

(Credit for following below this excerpt)

As a young student in high school, I was introduced to Shakir’s romantic poetry, which was best represented by her first collection of poetry ‘Khushbu’. I had won an essay writing competition in Urdu and a delightful award came in the form of this tender volume of poetry. Since then I have always returned to bits and pieces of Khushbu. It may not be according to the cannons of literary theory, but it is spontaneous, fresh and almost dreamlike...

Shakir had a natural talent for public speaking, reciting poetry and just being herself. I remember one monsoon evening in Murree when we were hooked to her presentation on Pakistan’s Independence Day. There was a distinct tenderness in her voice that was in sharp contrast to the platitudes being churned out. Above all she was beautiful. I remember she would read verses from her own work and from the great masters of Urdu poetry with complete ease and immense refinement...

Her later collections comprised Sad Barg (marsh merrygold), Khud Kalami (conversing with one’self), Inkaar (refusal), Maah-e-Tamaam (full moon) and Kaf-e-Aaina (edge of the mirror).

Her raw romanticism runs through her poetry. For instance, yay haseen shaam apni is a love poem of rare beauty; and has always been a favourite of mine. It is composite, taut and melodic; and here is my translation.

This melting evening of ours

Where everything dissolves

The scent of your clothes

The blossoming sprouts of my dreams

A deferred vision, this is

In a little while,

A star will emerge on the horizon

To gaze at you meaningfully…!

Your heart shall then reminisce

The echo of a memory

The tale of a separation,

Of an unfinished moment

Of un-blossomed dreams, things unsaid

We ought to have met

In times, considerate

In pursuit of attainable dreams

On a different sky

On a different earth

We ought to have met

The initial voice of a love struck, yearning Shakir turned serious and questioning before her death. This evolution came about in 1980s when she had to deal with the confines of the Pakistani establishment as a Customs officer. In a later poem, Advice from a senior executive, she opens her heart:

The senior executive in my office

Called me rather unusually to his office one day

And after asking after a file or two

Frowning uneasily he mentioned my un’civil’ pastimes

Shedding light upon the standing of the poetess in a society

The gist of what he said

Was that a poet has the same role in a nation

As an appendix in our bodies

Absolutely Useless, But able at times to cause great pain

So there is only one way of getting rid of it - Surgery!

A faint smile played upon his lips, as he imagined he had rid himself

Of the appendix of my personality

(translated by Rehan Qayoom)

Her poem ‘Working Woman’ also talks of the blurred boundaries and the inevitable double burden...Parveen was daring enough to choose a career of her own and bagged a distinguished position in the competitive entry examination for recruitment in the civil services...Long before single motherhood hit the Pakistani urban landscape, Shakir had become a successful, widely known single mother of her son Murad to whom she addressed a poem ‘Apnay betay kay liye ek nazm ’:

The world expected love from me

As if I had to pay a debt

The coins of my truthfulness

Were trampled in a manner

That if I had not held myself together

We would have been shelter-less

And devoid of social clothing

I have lived in my house

And paid jiziya all my life

(translated by author)

Murad must be a confident young man now. I hope he has pondered over this poem “It Has Been Said” translated by CM Naim. I will quote a few moving lines.

... then Zaid cursed Bakar, ‘Your mother

is more well known than your father!’ ”

My son,

this curse is your fate too.

In a fathers’ world you too, one day,

must pay a heavy price

for being known by your mother,

though your eyes’ color, your brow’s


and all the curves your lips create

come from the man

who shared with me in your birth,

yet alone gives you significance

in the eyes of the law-givers.

But the tree that nurtured you three


must claim one season as its own,

to comb the stars, turn thoughts into


make poems leapfrog your ancestors’ walls …

(Above excerpt is from blogger Raza Rumi dot com for this deep and lovely blogpost: "Coins of My Truthfulness" here Raza Rumi is a development professional and a writer)

Finally, credit for this collage also goes to Mr. Khurram Ali Shafique (an historian and scholar of Allama Iqbal as well as works based on Rumi) who first brought this poetess, Ms. Shakir, to the attention of the bloggers on The Republic of Rumi - republic of rumi dot blogspot dot com - and readers of this site - so - I hope to find this original post soon.


Connie L. Nash said...

Upon saying goodnight to The International Day for Women I saw this quote and copied by hand:

"Eventually things will have to get better. However, the way they will improve is not going to be because of the government or the elite leadership, or the political leadership, will be the people..."

How relevant for all of us everywhere with one heart for peace: See more on Asma Jahangir:

Akhtar Wasim Dar said...

Yes things will certainly get better and better for women, not because of men either but because women now has taken their destiny in their own hands, just like Asma a great fighter for Human Rights.

Connie L. Nash said...

And bless the moments and days when WE the People means men and women working together!

Thanx again for bringing Ms. Shakir to my attention! And your PERFECT post on her!