The Dawn: 3rd July, 2013

New books: woman voice, oral history and urban desolation!

Mushtaq Soofi 

Nuzhat Abbas is England-based young writer and social activist. She has done and is still doing a research on the subject of children’s relationship with language and the role stories play in their mental development they hear from their mothers and nannies. Her research reaffirms that mother tongue plays an important part in healthy growth of children. Her previous book ‘On the path of becoming mother’ that deals with the travails of pregnant woman was very warmly received .

Nuzhat is also a poet. She made her debut with her recent book of poems ‘Mann; Fakiri chashma’ that pleasantly surprised many a reader interested in the contemporary Punjabi poetry. She takes ordinary experiences of day toady life, places them imaginatively in a humanist framework, making the known freshly meaningful. Making the known more than what we take it to be, her poems compel us to impregnate our humdrum existence with what is present all around but ignored as trivial. Life’s joy lies more in discovering what we have rather than lamenting the imagined of serendipitous.”

How invaluable is life! Wake-up, wake-up afresh How beautiful is life! Look at it, look at it afresh How colourful is life! Smile, smile afresh How uncaring is life! Cry, cry afresh How short is life! Live it, live it afresh.

Her style is direct and simple laced with intense feelings. Her simplicity is a sign of clarity of experience and thought. She can raise complex questions effortlessly.

“I want to re-write my story

I want to listen to my inner self through my heart

I want to discover you and myself

I have a question for you

Why it is so that in our longing to be together with the all the thirst we carry, you want to sleep with me while I want to be awake with you at my side.

With what ease she debunked the myth of male love!

Iqbal Qaiser is a senior writer and researcher with undying passion for folk lore, local history, shrines and oral tradition. His latest book ‘Lallyani Di Tawareekh” (History of Lallyani), as the title itself indicates, is a history of an old dusty town that lies between Lahore and Kasur. Small towns are usually ignored by professional historians and their contribution in the evolution of social, political and cultural life remains unrecognised. Iqbal Qaisar traces the history of the town and paints vividly the pre and post partition life. He, in his narrative, uses the historical material as well as lore transmitted through oral tradition.

He describes two events, though not much talked about, that have great cultural and political significance; the emergence of Ghulab Dasi cult and signing of Lallyani agreement. Ghulab Das was an unusual spiritual Guru with liberal worldview who composed his own scripture known as ‘Updes Vilaas’. A lowly Muslim woman, Pero Preman, forced into prostitution by her husband became Ghulab Das’s devotee. She composed devotional poetry and is now recognised as first Sufi/Bhagti woman poet of the Punjabi language.

And what is the Lallyani agreement? After the death of Maha Raja Ranjit Singh the Sikh rule suffered from incessant court intrigues and factional power struggle which provided the British an opportunity to grab Punjab. After the defeat of the Khalsa army in 1846, the Lahore court was forced to sign an agreement with the British. Ghulab Singh Dogra, the king maker and quisling led the Punjab’s delegation. In lieu of his services he was offered eight million rupees by the British. He refused to take the money and requested to be accepted as ruler of Kashmire. Thus Dogras were imposed upon Kashmiris who are still suffering from the historical consequences of illegitimate Dogra rule. Iqbql Qasir’s book has much more to tell if you are interested in the people’s social and cultural history.

Salman Saeed is a well-known poet and media person. He has some excellent documentaries to his credit. “Jandian Ruttan De Parchhawen” (The shadows of passing seasons) is his latest book of poems. He usually writes short poems. His poems stand out for the simplicity of language and clarity of experience. His is urban milieu that creates an ambiance of city life faced with fast changing social and spiritual landscape.

“Every morning before stepping out of my home, I have to carry my heart stitched”.

The verse reminds you of T.S. Elliot’s line that expressed individual’s anguish to maintain social life “—There will be time to prepare the face to meet the faces that you meet”

Salman Saeed has a natural self-restraint which never allows him to be loud and pompous. He knows how to temper his anger and pessimistic streak.

“It makes no difference whether I meet someone or not it makes no difference whether I fear God or not it makes no difference whether I live or die”.

His poetry, spontaneous and unambiguous, can be a source of aesthetic delight.

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