City Event - Pakistani Poet Zehra Nigah, Recital in Attic, Connaught Place

City Event – Pakistani Poet Zehra Nigah, Recital in Attic, Connaught Place

Somewhere in Karachi

[Photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]

An Evening with Urdu poet Zehra Nigah on Thursday, 29 March 2012, 6.30 pm, at The Attic, The Regal Building, Connaught Place.

The Karachi-based poet will recite her poetry.

Zehra Nigah is a legend in Pakistan. In India she is an eagerly awaited figure on the mushaira (Urdu poetry recitals) circuit, especially the two annual Indo-Pak mushairas in early spring.

According to the English-language translator of her poems, Delhi-based author Rakhshanda Jalil, Ms Nigah’s poetry is about the compulsions and compromises of being a woman and a poet. Ms Jalil says,” Amidst friends and family, she is equally well known as a raconteur par excellence and a qissa-go. She talks as she writes: with grace and poise and wry humour. But as she says in the much-recited, much-quoted poetry Samjhauta, the easy calm hides the many compromises that she – like all women – has had to make:

Mulayam garm samjhaute ki chadar
Yeh chadar mein ne barson mein buni hai
Kahin bhi sach ke gul boote nahi hai
Kissi bhi jhooth ka taanka nahin hai
Issi se main bhi tan dhak loongi apna
Issi se tum bhi aasooda rahoge
Na khush hoge, na pashmanda hoge

[Warm and soft, this blanket
Of compromise has taken me years to weave
Not a single flower of truth embellishes it
Not a single false stitch betrays it
It will do to cover my body though
And it will bring comfort too,
If not joy, nor sadness to you]

Refusing to be categorised by the labels of a writer of feminine poetry or a feminist poet, Ms Nigah has alluded to the bitter fratricidal war that culminated in the creation of Bangladesh as well as the tragic and still unfolding situation in Afghanistan in lyrical, pathos-driven yet politically astute poems such as ‘Bhejo Nabi ji Rehmatein’ and ‘Qissa Gul Badshah’.

She has written of the repressive Hudood Ordinances introduced during Pakistani dictator General Zia’s oppressive regime as also about love, friendship and small everyday joys and sorrows.

Despite early critical and popular acclaim, Ms Nigah has only three slim published volumes of poetry: Shaam ka Pehla Taara, Waraq, and Firaq. She says she has never felt the urge to be prolific, to write when there is nothing to say.

The Delhi Walla has written about Zehra Nigah here.

Zehra Nigah in Mehrauli, Delhi, in 2011

City Hangout – Poet Zehra Nigah in Mehrauli