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Category Archives: Poetry

Poetry is a deal of joy and pain and wonder, with a dash of the dictionary. – Kahlil Gibran

Sufisticated: Celebrating Amir Khusrau via Saami

Published: August 21, 2014
tribune.com.pk/story/751231/sufisticated-celebrating-amir-khusrau-via-saami/

The Saami Brothers qawwal group is presently performing events that are thematic tributes to Hazrat Amir Khusrau. PHOTO: FAISAL SAYANI

KARACHI: Guftam ke Roshan az Qamar/Gufta ke Rukhsaar-e-man ast/Guftam ke sheerin az shaker/Gufta ke guftaar-e-man ast.” (I said: What is bright like the moon? He said: The cheek of Mine. I said: What is sweeter than sugar? He said: The talk of Mine.) The lights are dim. The voices and clapping resonate across the hall. The crowd is almost mesmerised as this beautiful bit of Amir Khusrau’s Persian poetry is performed by The Saami Brothers.

“So, who is the speaker and who is he speaking to in this nazm?” is the question a listener poses to Rauf Saami, the eldest of the brothers. “Nazm nahi, bibi. Ghazal,” he points out and goes on. “On purpose, this has not been spelt out here. Hence, this can be interpreted in more than one way,” he smilingly says that not all of Amir Khusrau’s poetry was for his spiritual master. “Where he wants it to be understood as specifically for Khwaja Ghareeb Nawaz, he takes his name.”

In a later sitting, Rauf’s father sheds more light on this. “Some people are given so much in so many aspects. They are God’s special people. Amir Khusrau was one of them. A linguist, a scholar, a poet, a mystic, an advisor to kings, the devotee of his Peer-o-Murshid Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya and a musician,” says Ustad Naseeruddin Saami.

We are sitting in his spacious apartment in Garden Town with two of his sons sitting around him. Two tanpuras named Saawan and Bhaadon sit majestically in the room; they are some 430 years old, passed on through generations of the Saami family as heirlooms.

Ustaad Naseeruddin Saami’s four sons and a nephew make up The Saami Brothers group of qawwals. The troupe is currently performing in events that are thematic tributes to Hazrat Amir Khusrau, the father of qawwali and a 13th-century Sufi musician, poet and scholar, and a spiritual disciple of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya.

Titled Kalaam-e-Khusrau Ba Zabaan-e-Saamat, their next performance will be held at T2F on Thursday afternoon after a successful event at the PACC auditorium. They are doing this to celebrate the Urs of Hazrat Amir Khusrau.

While other qawwals, even in their own family, have experimented with fusion and innovations, this group remains more puritanical in its approach. They safeguard their link to their ancestor Miyan Saamat, who was both a student and colleague of Amir Khusrau. “They were peers. Miyan Saamat was already doing zikr in the darbar of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya. But when Khusrau entered, the two started working as a team. They experimented with it and the name ‘qawwali’ was introduced for this art form,” says Ustaad Saami.

Talking about the many languages Amir Khusrau wrote poetry in, the conversation wanders into the makings of the Urdu language. Urdu, the language symbolic of pluralism, has words of Arabic, Turkish, Hindi and Persian. Khusrau dabbled with all of these languages in his poetry. “The purpose of the Urdu language was mingling and communication of the many races here. Music is also a means of communication and nothing else. And Khusrau was the master mingler,” says the maestro.

For Saami, music is about “invoking in yourself and your audience the correct kaifiyat (feeling)”. Ustad Saami, for whom his close students use the term of endearment ‘jaan’, has a deep attachment to Khusrau. He had travelled to India on what one may call a ‘study tour’ to search his roots to Amir Khusrau. “Qawwali kiya hai? Kisee achhay qaul ko logon tak pohnchana,” says Saami. “The divine words given to us by those who were directed by Him.”

Published in The Express Tribune, August 21st, 2014.

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I miss the things that were never meant to be

An attempt at Spoken Word poetry… a beginning.

I miss the things that never came into being.
Sunrise in your arms,
the aroma of baking bread in that little house with a red tiled roof…our home,
the tug of little hands at my apron…you looking up from your book and smiling at that sight,
that evening when you cooked for me and waited for me to come home from work,
you saying my beauty still left you speechless…you said this the day I gave up on dyeing my hair because it was almost all white.
I miss our growing old together…
and feeling a current even at that age…a current of passion still alive,
and the joy of each other’s company.
Oh I miss the laughter we were supposed to share each night after dinner.
I miss the quilt you never tucked me in in winter nights.
I miss your first pair of reading glasses.
And I miss that walk in New England we were meant to take.
I miss the things that were never meant to be.

I carry your heart with me

One of the prettiest love poems ever…This is E E Cummings for all those who carry hearts of their beloved in their heart.

snuggle barca
i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart)
i am never without it
(anywhere i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)

i fear no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet)
i want no world (for beautiful, you are my world, my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;
which grows higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart)

Serenade me, my love

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Put me to sleep with a serenade of togetherness. Wake me up with an aubade that is one of joy. Let the rays of sunlight touch us together. Leave not. Go not. Stay. Here. All we need is us.

What is love? – “TUM HUMSE HO YA HUM TUMSE” by Gulzar

Love…It sweeps us off our feet. It gives us unbelievable pain. It makes us fly. It puts us through hell. We question, at times, if there is something as true love, or not. Does it exist?
One feeling the pivot of all other feelings…descriptions so varied. Each one us has a different way of understanding it. Or the same person defines it differently at different stages of life.

Rarely has a poet summed it up as beautifully as Gulzar Sahab does in this poem.

Here’s to the lovers.
And to a feeling that is fluid, lasting, evolving, growing, but never really ending, if it is true.

Pyar wo beej hai…………

PYAR AKELA JEE NAHIN SAKTA
JEETA HAI TO DO LOGON MEIN
MARTA HAI TO DO MARTE HAIN

PYAR EK BEHTA DARIYA HAI
JHEEL NAHIN KE JISKO KINAARE BAANDH KE BAITHE RAHTE HAIN
SAAGAR BHI NAHIN KE JISKA KINAARA HOTA NAHIN
BAS DARIYA HAI AUR BEHTA HAI
DARIYA JAISE CHADH JAATA HAI, DHAL JAATA HAI
CHADHNA DHALNA PYAR MEIN WOH SAB HOTA HAI
PAANI KI AADAT HAI OOPAR SE NEECHE KI JANIB BEHNA
NEECHE SE PHIR BHAAGTI SOORAT OOPAR UTHNA
BAADAL BAN AAKASH MEIN BEHNA
KAANPNE LAGTA HAI JAB TEZ HAWAYEN CHHAREIN
BOOND BOOND BARAS JAATA HAI

PYAR EK JISM KE SAAZ PE BEHTI BOOND NAHIN HAI
NA MANDIR KI AARTI HAI NA POOJA HAI
PYAR NAFA HAI NA LAALACH HAI
NA LAABH NA HAANI KOI

PYAR AILAN HAI EHSAAN HAI NA KOI JANG KEE JEET HAI YEH
NA HI HUNAR HAI NA HI INAAM NA RIWAAJ NA REET HAI YEH
YEH REHEM NAHIN YEH DAAN NAHIN
YEH BEEJ NAHIN JO BEEJ SAKE
KHUSHBOO HAI MAGAR YEH KHUSHBOO KI PEHCHAN NAHIN

DARD DILAASE SHAQUE VISHWAS JUNOON AUR HOSH-O-HAWAS KE EK AHSAAS KE KOKH SE
PAIDA HUA HAI
EK RISHTA HAI YEH
YEH SAMBANDH HAI –
DO NAAM KA DO ROOHON KA PEHCHAANON KA
PAIDA HOTA HAI BADHTA HAI YEH
BOODHA HOTA NAHIN

MITTI MEIN PALAY EK DARD KI THANDI DHOOP TALE
JAR AUR TARAKKI KI FASAL
KAT’TI HAI
MAGAR YEH BANT’TI NAHIN

MATTI AUR PAANI AUR HAWAA KUCHH ROSHNI AUR TAREEQUI KUCHH
JAB BEEJ KI AANKH MEIN JHAANKTE HAIN
TAB PAUDA GARDAN OONCHI KARKE
MOONH NAAK NAZAR DIKHLATA HAI
PAUDE KE PATTE PATTE PAR KUCHH PRASHN BHI HAI UTTAR BHI

KIS MITTI KI KOKH THI WOH
KIS MAUSAM NE PAALA POSAA
AUR SOORAJ KA CHHIDKAO KIYA
KIS SIMT GAYEEN SHAAKHEIN USKI

phool

KUCHH PATTON KE CHEHRE OOPAR HAIN
AAKASH KI JANIB TAKTE HAIN
KUCHH LATKE HUE HAIN
GHAMGEEN MAGAR
SHAAKHON KI RAGON SE BAHTE HUE PAANI SE JUDE HAIN
MATTI KE TALE EK BEEJ SE AAKAR POOCHHTE HAIN –

HUM TUM TO NAHIN
PAR POOCHNA HAI-
TUM HUMSE HO YA HUM TUMSE

PYAR AGAR WOH BEEJ HAI TO
EK PRASHN BHI HAI
EK UTTAR BHI !

-GULZAR

Sonnet LXXXI: “Rest with your dream inside my dream” – Pablo Neruda

Already, you are mine. Rest with your dream inside my dream.
Love, grief, labour, must sleep now.
Night revolves on invisible wheels
and joined to me you are pure as sleeping amber.

No one else will sleep with my dream, love.
You will go we will go joined by the waters of time.
No other one will travel the shadows with me,
only you, eternal nature, eternal sun, eternal moon.

Already your hands have opened their delicate fists
and let fall, without direction, their gentle signs,
you eyes enclosing themselves like two grey wings,

while I follow the waters you bring that take me onwards:
night, Earth, winds weave their fate, and already,
not only am I not without you, I alone am your dream.

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My Soul Preached Me – By Khalil Gibran

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My soul preached me and taught me to love that which people abhor and befriend him whom they revile.

My soul showed me that love prides itself not only in the one who loves, but also in the beloved.

Ere my soul preached to me, Love was in my heart as a tiny thread fastened between two pegs.

But now Love has become a halo whose beginning is its end, and whose end is it’s beginning. It surrounds every being and extends slowly to embrace all that shall be.

My soul advised me and taught me to perceive the hidden beauty of the skin , figure and hue. She instructed me to meditate upon that which the people call ugly until its true charm and delight appear.

Ere my soul counseled me, I saw Beauty like a trembling torch between columns of smoke. Now since the smoke has vanished, I see naught save the flame.

My soul preached to me , I heard naught but clamor and wailing. But now I eagerly attend Silence and hear its choirs singing the hymns of the ages and the songs of the firmament announcing the secrets of the Unseen.

My soul preached to me and instructed me to drink the wine that cannot be pressed and cannot be poured from cups that hands can lift or lips can touch.

Ere my soul preached to me , my thirst was like a dim spark hidden under the ashes that can be extinguished by a swallow of water.

But now my longing has become my cup, my affections my wine, and my loneliness my intoxication: yet, in this unquenchable thirst there is eternal joy.

My soul preached to me and said, “Do not be delighted because of praise,and do not be distressed because of blame.”

Ere my soul counseled me, I doubted the worth of my work.

Now I realize that the trees blossom in Spring and bear fruit in the Summer without seeking praise, and they drop their leaves in Autumn and become naked in Winter without fearing blame.