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Measuring memories

Making sense of the world: Poet Shariq Kaifi guards against the ego-centric obsession with self

Making sense of the world: Poet Shariq Kaifi guards against the ego-centric obsession with self  

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In his latest collection of poetry, Shariq Kaifi turns the spotlight on the shadowy and shady manoeuvrings that are the tangible signs of the post-truth era

Sensitive poetry turns attention to the hidden dangers of common sense and the legitimacy of contradictions and dichotomies inherent in the drudgery of mundane life. Active involvement in a collective activity usually absolves one of responsibility. Still, for the poet, it is an act that imposes unbearable accountability. This is astutely articulated by a celebrated Urdu poet Shariq Kaifi, who says, “Sab Ke Saath Nahi Rota Mein/ Zimmedari Badh Jati hai (I don’t burst into tears with all/it enhances the responsibility).”

Creative masterstrokes

Similarly, a trivial mistake readily fetches pardon but for the narrator it calls for punishment. “Maafi Aur Itni Si Khata Par / Saza se Kaam Chal Jata Hamara (Pardon for such a trivial mistake/ punishment would have been more convenient for me). Frankness eludes love and promiscuity denotes much more profound sense of trustworthiness, “Wo Kharapan Mohabbaton Mein Kahan/Bewafai Mein jo Sadaqat hai (Love lacks such uprightness/ that one finds in the promiscuity). These are creative masterstrokes that embody the fourth collection of the poet “Dekho Kya Kya Bhool Gai Ham” (See how much we have forgotten) that appeared recently.

Nothing could be more painful than the wilful heedlessness at the time of final departing, and a nagging sense of anguish may resuscitate a dead. It is sensitively portrayed by Sharif in an evocative poem, “Akhri Hatak” (the Last Humilation): Namaz Khtam Hogai/Kisi Ne Zor Se Kaha /Chehra Dekh Lijaiye/ Koyi Qadam Nahi Badha/ Kafan Ka Band Khol Kar / Phir Se Kas Diya Gaya/ Koyi Qadam Nahi Badha / Khuda Hi Jaane Sach Tha ya Mujhe Laga/ Ki Is Hatak Per/Uska Zard Chera / Thora Aur Zard Pad Gaya ( The last prayer is over / Someone loudly said/Come on see the face/ no one moved ahead/ The knot of the coffin loosened and fastened / Nobody came forward/ Not sure it was true, or I felt / this humiliation/ turned his yellow face / a bit more pale).

The book published by My Book Select Publishing under its series 'Nayab Book series' carries more than one hundred ghazals and a dozen poems. Shariq’s creative outpourings exude a strange mixture of the serious and hilarious, the fierce and the diffusive. The metaphor of death surfaces time and again but the poet quite consciously guards against the ego-centric obsession with self. Self-pity in soft-centred diction hardly lay the foundations of his poetry.

Not overladen with expressive idioms and emotional extravagance and exaggeration, Shariq turns the spotlight on the shadowy and shady maneuverings that are the tangible signs of the post-truth era.

He has a rare sense of the comic and playfulness in times of tumult and turmoil. With an even-handed sympathy for the naive and the eccentric, the narrator never shies away from poking fun at himself, and a strong sense of derision coupled with nipping satire enlivens the narrated experience. He does touch the oft-repeated theme of love, but he tellingly depicts the inevitable loss of love.

For him, emotional affinity is an ethical value of human sensitivity and, most of the people are afflicted with blindness as they reuse to see beyond the mundane life.

Sense of irreverence

Shariq’s poetry narrates human follies and shortcomings in a language that betrays a strong sense of irreverence. His astutely rendered short poems are essentially fuelled by the ultimate human concerns, and they also try to stitch up the growing ideological hiatus that promotes the certainty of paranoia. Through the frequent use of death as a primary poetic motif, his poetry invariably reflects rebellion against the contemporary market economy. Some of his ghazals echo and re-echo wistful experiences in a beautiful pattern. According to the poet, his latest collection, his most recent collection owes its existence to a mixed feeling of achieving and losing simultaneously – this is a mysterious world that surfaces frequently.

Shariq’s collection portrays man caught in the pitfalls of life and his stifling surroundings. The poet no longer believes in medieval optimism, and his understanding of human suffering looks infallible. He deserves a compliment for bringing together the voices of oration, mourning, arguing and deafening silence.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2020 7:12:29 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/books/books-authors/measuring-memories/article30285451.ece

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