Poet Raoofuddin Shakeer talks about his new anthology of poems and dedication to the craft of writing
Teacher, writer and poet Raoofuddin Shakeer believes he is a lucky man, “A poet is a boon to people around him because he reflects what is happening in society and also what is happening in the mind of the individual,” he says, quoting two lines from a verse to make his point. His new book of Hindi poems titled Geele Pathe, “is a collection of 60 poems, including some ghazals,” he says, “I write both in Hindi and in Urdu; I feel this gives me more dimensions as a poet. Urdu is my mother tongue while Hindi is the language with which I earn my bread and butter,” says the Hindi teacher, who has held the post of Head of Department at Sultan Ul Uloom Junior College for the past 13 years.
While he began writing in Hindi, he took to writing Urdu poetry after listening to the works of Mirza Ghalib and Gulzar. The latter remains a huge inspiration for Raoofuddin. “Since I speak Urdu at home, my close friends and family speak it so writing in Urdu helps me reach that audience as well,” explains the poet.
Raoofuddin who credits his teachers and father as great inspirations began writing at an early age. “When I was a student at Osmania University, I would attend classes by professors during the day and then meet them at poetry circles in the evenings,” he recalls. While his education in Hindi was done through formal channels, Raoofuddin’s Urdu was sharpened at home. “My father brought me an Urdu dictionary and helped me fine-tune my poetry by being a constant guide. In Urdu poetry there is a guru-sishya tradition. My father was my guru,” explains Raoofuddin,” In fact, I don’t hesitate to call Urdu my father tongue rather than mother tongue.”
While he also writes prose and drama, it is poetry that comes naturally to Raoofuddin. “It is what comes to me, a form which doesn’t require any alterations as in the case of prose.”
The poems of Geele Pathe will revolve around man’s relationship with society, family, lover and oneself. “It is divided into three parts — philosophical, psychological and romantic,” explains the poet. “I believe poetry reflects what goes on in the world but I don’t want to make my poems social slogans. The poems are mainly about how an individual deals with certain circumstances and the psychological and emotional dimensions of this,” he says. “You will also find some literary songs or geet in the book, as this is the form that is gaining popularity.”
However, Raoofuddin believes poetry is being less appreciated as people move on to other forms of entertainment. But he is hopeful; “I say even the basic human being can relate to poems because we write about fundamental human characteristics and emotions which stay the same no matter where the individual goes,” he concludes.