Syed Nasir Raza Kazmi, or more commonly, Nasir Kazmi can be easily be given a honoured place in the pantheon of the greatest modern-day Urdu poets.
Despite an undercurrent of sorrow present in his poems, due to the trauma he suffered in the troubled, terrible summer of 1947 – which an entire generation of that period cannot easily shrug off – Kazmi cannot be termed a shair of maayusi, in the same way as lets say Fani Badayuni, because there is frequently a note of optimism somewhere in his ghazals, unlike Fani who is consistently pessimistic.
Nasir Kazmi’s poems – characterised by a ‘chota bahr’ (small metre for the uninitiated majority) – employ a wonderfully, vivid imagery and metaphors. See this – his most well-known ghazal made popular due to a soulful rendition by Ghulam Ali. Of course it bears many more shers, since Ghulam Ali only used a few in his recital.
One metaphor which stands out is “yaad ke benishan jazeeron se” (from the unmapped islands of memory) . Another which comes to attention in both the ghazals given here is about walking through the dark and lonely streets of a sleeping city. This is a vivid and expressive motif, which I have come across it in various genres. I remember reading an account of a British officer, escaping from a German POW camp during WWII, who writes how he and his fellow officer walked through a sleeping town, late at night, and it reminded him of an illustration from the book “The Tailor of Gloucester” (if I remember correctly). I have myself experienced the thrill of such venture, which evokes the spirit of a film noir, when your footsteps ring out in the pervasive silence ….. but I realise I am going on too much of a digression and will deal with it in a separate post. Here I will let Nasir Kazmi talk about it himself…..
This ghazal bears this motif at least two times (three if you count the haveli reference). It also also displays his characteristic ‘chota bahr’ and a sher or two of deep regret and hopelessness, which is ultimately set off by the maqta, which is on a more positive note .
Dil mein ik lahr si uthi hai abhi
Koi taaza hawa chali hai abhi
Shor barpa hai khaana-e-dil mein
Koi deewar si giri hai abhi
Kuch to naazuk mizaj hain ham bhi
Aur ye chot bhi nayi hai abhi
Bhari duniya mein ji nahi lagta
Jaane kis cheez ki kami hai abhii
So gaye log us haveli ke
Ek khidki magar khuli hai abhi
Tu shareek-e-sukhan nahi hai to kya
Ham-sukhan teri khaamoshi hai abhi
Yaad ke be-nishaan jazeeron se
Teri aawaaz aa rahi hai abhi
Shahr ke bechiraag galiyon mein
Zindagi tujh ko dhundhti hai abhi
Tum to yaaron abhi se uth baithe
Shahr mein raat jaagti hai abhi
Waqt acchha bhi aayegaa ‘Nasir’
Gam na kar zindagi padii hai abhi
The second ghazal is not as long, but is adequately expressive. The dark, lonely city motif again appears in the maqta.
Kuch yaadgar-e-shahr-e-sitamgar hi le chale
Aaye hain is gali mein to pathar hi le chale
Yun kis tarah katega kadi dhoop ka safar
Sar par khayal-e-yaar ki chaddar hi le chale
Ranj-e-safar ki koi nishani to paas ho
Thodi si khaak-e-kucha-e-dilbar hi le chale
Yeh kah ke chhedti hai hame dil-giraftagi
Ghabra gaye hain aap to bahar hi le chale
Is shahr-e-bechiraag mein jaayegi tuu kahan
Aa ae shab-e-firaaq tujhe ghar hi le chale