Checklists

checklists

I was walking to the nearest khokha convenience store a few blocks from my place while my mind was absorbed by my novel Saheban that I was in the process of sending to the publisher the next day. On a side street, there was an older woman with a cane walking toward me from the other end of the footpath. I got the feeling, she stopped when she saw me, and she had. For the rest of my walk on that street of young trees and new houses, I felt being observed at every step. It made me lose my focus on the novel, and I felt that funny feeling I get when meeting strangers, of being pushed into the booth of the Accused in Hollywood’s Victorian courtroom where cases were decided on the basis of various laws that I had, in my own experiential courtroom, pronounced unacceptable in the previous century.

The best way to not lose my focus was to not get effected by the uneasiness of it to the point of generating a series of reactions that I know actually cause the courtroom feeling in me. I quickened my step as if in a hurry, and reached the woman fast. I had seen her before, and we had exchanged wishing-well gestures. So, I did that again, a smile, joining of palms, bobbing of head. She did her part by accepting my greetings with a sweet smile and a wave of her hand. We came across each other, I passed her by. Success!

But No. She was speaking to me, saying something like ‘you live on that side?’ I turned back, said ‘Yes!’ and kept walking.
‘We used to live there too,’ she followed me matching my speed, came alongside, held my arm, stopped me, and said: ‘In the house next to yours. Do you live in the upper portion?’
‘No,’ I had no choice but to stop and to let her put me in her courtroom so that she could go through her checklists. ‘Main floor’, I said, surrendering to an examination that I knew I wouldn’t pass.
‘Oh, main floor basement.’ She said, checking off the first item. ‘I live in a basement too, in that house. We were living with our son but he moved to Amrika with his wife and kids, we stayed here because my husband works here. How many children?’
‘Three.’
‘Boys?’
‘Two girls and a boy.’
‘They live with you?’
‘No.’
‘All married?’
‘No.’
‘Girls must be married?’
‘No.’
‘Oh. You live with your husband?’
‘No.’
‘Who do you live with?’
‘No one.’
‘You live alone? So sorry…’
‘Nothing to be sorry about, it’s very relaxing to live on one’s own,’ I said, encouraging her to think on those lines.
‘I’ll go sit with my husband now,’ she said, giving me the verdict and moving along.

The verdict: under 23%, and this is how:

33% on Children question as in 66% for two boys and 99% for three;

0% on Married-Woman question since women not living with their husbands have either been ‘divorced by them’ or they are widows who are not good enough to find other husbands;

35% on Respectable-Woman question because of body-covering clothes and familiar ‘south asian’ mannerism;

0% on Motherhood question if neither my son nor daughters are willing to ‘take my burden’;

15% on Class question since I don’t own the property I live in, have no car or car-keys, clothing covers the body but does not establish any acknowledged power status;

50% on Ethnicity for being Punjabi but not Sikh or White.

Score: 133 out of 600, a mere 22.16% of the total. I had been ‘Aunteed’.

It’s interesting that my Uncled score is always higher- sometimes as high as 50% because most uncles usually give me some mark on living by myself as it seems to intrigue them all. But if you think that my Aunteed score is low, wait till you see what I get when Begumed.

A South Asian Begum may choose to give me 2.5% for simply standing on North American soil instead of sitting on it, and that’ll be the end of my scorecard because nothing in me would be of use to her. On the other hand, a White Begum won’t be able to locate me sitting or standing, and if she is made to pay attention to me, her radar would go fuzzy making me appear and disappear from her vision like an incarnation of some character in a hollywood box office hit on poverty-in-another-continent that she may have watched at some point in her life. I’ll get 0% when lucky.

Unlike the difference in score when Aunteed and Uncled, my score remains consistent when Begumed and Sahibed by South Asians and when Begumed and Sahibed by White, Black, Red or Yellow people: the same 2.5 and 0%.

If you ask me, I prefer being Brownbagged more than being Aunteed, Uncled, Begumed or Sahibed because at least it’s more of a general wrap and it hides me like it hides my lunch, and for sure, it’s better than being Blackburned or Nativebrowned.

This is not a complete index of Checklists I encounter, but I need to veer off of it because it’ll be unfair to not tell you about my own system of locating others in my mind.

I seem to have Signs instead of Checklists; here are a few examples. When I see a man in a non-thriftstore suit and tie or a woman wearing designer angelina-jolie clothes there emerges in my mind a STAY AWAY sign, and in most cases I do. The RUN sign appears for people using the latest academic/literary/ideological jargon or putting up a show for the camera; STOP sign appears at people singing or smiling, dancing or laughing- at a protest rally or away from it- but this is not to be confused with the red traffic stop signs that said ‘STOP Harper’ and are now saying ‘STOP Enbridge’ because those i FOLLOW; and, a STAY sign shows up if someone invites me to have a joint.
..

Toronto’s Tempting Wild Flowers

Memoir

torontowild-flowers-mehidotme-3

Before reading this story, you need to know that I grew up with the belief that I can’t defend myself in a physical fight. Some of it has to do with the way I was brought up but more comes from my few experiences with physical violence in my youth where I did not hit back, and so was easily overpowered by the offending party in an all-girls school yard. It was un-settling, so I tried to figure it out and discovered that there was no desire in me to have an eye for an eye, one was enough, even when mine; if at all. As well, I realized that Gandhi, another skinny South Asian, had the answers for me in this area: the tactics of nonviolence. To stand your ground without hitting back, and to continue to speak your mind. This, as we know, is the backbone of any protest movement across the globe.

So now, the story. The first week I was in Toronto, it was summer of 1986. Me and my ex partner Saloo Khan Durrani had had some tense few months while packing up and leaving Pakistan with our two children and to start living in Canada as Convention Refugees. We had a rental apartment in Scarborough, a suburb of Toronto much like Surrey is to Vancouver; both stigmatized and frowned upon for their dense South Asian and other colored-immigrant populations. We were out with our children Mariam 10 and Yermiah 6, to do groceries and we decided to go to the mall through a park.

It was nice, but it rapidly became exciting as we went further in. Away from flowerbeds and green patches and paths, there were wild flowers on a slope, loads of them, the likes I had never seen before. We all have something or the other that we are drawn to. My friend Nefertiti SheLa is drawn to traumatized bub rats and she writes stories about them, Janene White is transfixed by all small animals and she goes onto write poems for them, Janet Kvaman can’t get enough of the dragonflies, Deborah Kelly coo-es over cats, and my long time friend Broyni Baxter is crazy over dogs. For me it’s flowers, and fruits, and any vegetation. Now, having lived in England for a couple of years, and from knowing gardens of Lahore, I was aware that in a city even if flowers appear to be wild, they probably are not. But I was a new refugee, there was no question for me to buy any kind of flowers, but I still had a heart. So, I went in, and began to touch and smell them.

Saloo saw that, and he hurried ahead with the kids, encouraging me to follow. I did feel that pressure but could not leave the flowers, and then after asking their permission, I began to softly pick them. I chose and took a few, long-stemmed, one each of a kind. As I was admiring them right at the scene of the crime, a young white woman passed by on a bike. I held up the flowers, and with a big smile, shared their beauty with her. She did not smile back, and continued on. Never mind, I thought, she must be in a hurry. I got up, and began to walk to the path. Just then, I saw her come back. Something in her manner made me stop.
‘Do you know that picking flowers is against the law in Canada?’ She asked, disembarking from her bike.
My mind shouted NO but ‘Yes’ came out because it’s hard to tender lies to sudden direct questions.
‘So, you broke the law on purpose?’
‘Look at the abundance! They won’t mind if I took a few’, I said.
‘Who won’t mind?’ She asked
‘The plants’, I said.
‘You broke our law and you think its a joke? Fucking Bitch! I am making a Citizen’s arrest’, she gave a quick look around for a place to rest her bike.
‘Do what you like but please don’t use abusive language’, I said.
At this, she dropped the bike, and began to shout and froth about dirty brown immigrants, criminals, lawbreakers, welfare bums, and illiterates; a barrage of filth that I don’t remember.
A small crowd was gathering around us, and I felt as if I was being enclosed into a rapidly forming, and moving, boxing ring with a crazed individual who was about to pounce at me.
‘Are you trying to assault me?’ I asked her to make sure.
And she did.
She pounced, I ducked; but what actually saved me was Saloo who had wedged himself between me and the blow just in time. With that, my situation changed as I could now take cover, even when human. Meanwhile, the young woman’s tongue was getting the best of her.
‘You are a racist, violent and abusive individual’, I said, raising my head over Saloo’s shoulder.
She hit again. Saloo stopped the blow.
‘This is assault!’ I said.
Some people in the crowd also began to challenge her, and because Saloo was non-violent but firm in his defensive moves, she finally left, still hurling insults at me and my brown-ness, paki-ness, refugee-ness; my visible-minority-ness. Most of all, at my insistence on my right to have a bunch of wild flowers even when I was a newly-arrived, unemployed, paki brown, refugee woman, living in Scarberia.

During all this strife that took about 10-15 minutes, where the ring of violence was moved from a narrow pathway to open area; ducking, retreating and standing my ground; after taking a load of verbal abuse and close encounters with violence, i still had the flowers in my hand; beautiful, fresh and smiling.

The interesting thing is, that this somewhat is the story of my life. At the end of each unpleasant experience, I find myself standing with a few beloved people and some very supportive strangers while holding in my hand an equivalent of a bouquet of fresh cut, undamaged, wild-looking, bright-colored flowers.

Perhaps because i’m not, for example, a Black man in America, an Indigenous woman in Canada, or a member of a minority in Pakistan.

Photo: mehi.me, Inset: Saloo Durrani

Presented at Surrey Muse August 28/15
..

‘Something in that name…’ by Fauzia Rafique

.

In the Pakistani city of Sargodha in 2007, i was launching the Punjabi edition of my novel ‘Skeena’, and had just heard some wonderful things about it, and also the very best review called ‘Peerni’ from a poet/educationist. Questions followed, and the first person wanted to know who my favourite novelists were. Easy, i thought, and began my SalmanRushdie-MargaretAtwood-ToniMorrison-LindaHogan bit.
‘Salman Rushdie, Marga…’ I could not finish the first name of the second novelist because five six people (actually men) had risen from different locations of that small hall, and they were all speaking at the same time.
I stopped to listen.
‘What kind of Muslim are you that you are taking the name of that Murtid (apostate)?’ An outraged man asked.
My answer was as unbelievable as the question, ‘i am a human before being a Muslim’.
At this, the hall became more restless, and the local organizer and my publisher were there on both my sides.
‘The question period is over’, someone said.
I was led away, and out the side door. The event ended.

There’s some good news that may not be available later in this post. Out of the 55-60 (or 45-50) people present there, i was supported in private by two women and a man of Christian descent who were working with a local human rights organization.

Together, we were reminded of Ayub Masih, arrested for blasphemy in 1996, and tortured, for suggesting to his Muslim neighbour to read ‘The Satanic Verses’ before going against it, and for showing preference for Christianity over Islam. After years of international lobbying while he was being tortured in prison, in 2002 he was acquitted and taken away from Pakistan. The extent of torture suffered by Ayub Masih led John Joseph (1932–1998), the then Roman Catholic Bishop of Faisalabad, to commit suicide in protest against the cruel treatment of Pakistan’s minorities by it’s Muslim governments.

Back at the rest house i found an uncompromising silent stance from my companions that said it’s FINAL that Salman Rushdie has insulted the Prophet and he deserves to be punished; this isn’t up for discussion, Bibi, and it doesn’t matter if Iran has withdrawn the fatwa or not. My publisher gave the most elegant response. He said, ‘It’s not what he wrote, it’s what people associate with it. You know that it’s a sensitive issue to mention that name here’.

Sure, i knew, i had removed it from the Punjabi edition of ‘Skeena’. I knew it to be a sensitive issue in the general social environment but this was not a general ‘public’ gathering. Most people attending Skeena launches were left-leaning or progressive writers, artists, activists and journalists. I didn’t think it would be such a taboo with this set of people. The silencing, but more so, the sense of endangering other people felt oppressive but we were leaving in the morning.

Look what happened to me
We travelled back to Lahore, and i went to my family. When i was asked how did it go in Sargodha, i said, ‘look what happened to me…’ and began to tell my story, but before i could finish, the senior member of my family squirmed in his chair and then asked in a voice angrier than i had ever heard, ‘How could you take that name?’ For some reason, i was again not expecting it. Discussion became hot, and when it came to religion and religiosity, my respected elder told me to not ‘play smart’ with them, but to answer one simple question: do i believe in god or not. I said not. And that was the first time i was asked to leave a forever loving home. I did (but not for long). What puzzles me is that for those two family members, this was no ‘news’, they knew for many years that i don’t believe in god, i don’t practice religion, and that i think it’s influence suppresses the life force of people especially women, making them willing slaves to oppressive living conditions and/or to the interests of extreme religious groups. It is in my poems and stories; the character Skeena in the novel then being launched, denounces Islam at the end. So, why was i asked to leave after this discussion and not any time before? That name, perhaps.

While meeting a Punjabi poet and author at an event in Lahore, the ‘how could you?’ came up. I asked him ‘Can’t we even say what we think? We are not insisting that others be convinced’. The person just looked at me, no discussion.

Later, in an informal and warm home environment, i was asked by a group of friends to furnish them with the ‘why’ of mentioning ‘that name’. By that time, i had realized that it was not taking ‘that name’ that had appeared so unbelievable of me to all my progressive friends but it was it’s projection in a positive affirmative role that was causing the problem. From the sincere attention being paid to me over fine whiskey and golden garda, i felt that i needed to provide a reason, a justification, some rationale for what was being seen as my indiscretion, oversight, mistake. But while presenting my case to my enlightened writer, artist, activist friends in the room, i was not allowed to question the withdrawn guilty verdict given by a dead extreme religious leader. Challenging.
‘He is a very interesting storyteller’, I said, and that to me clearly expressed my involved experience of reading fiction by Salman Rushdie.
The faces stared at me in silence.
This was definitely not enough. Okay, ‘the master of magic realism, a world renowned author, he got the Booker of Bookers’, i said.
The faces remained unchanged.
So, i took a pause and began to roll a joint. For me, reading is to enjoy the story and the way someone told it, without analyzing or categorizing or rationalizing my likings and dislikings. But at that point, i was required to actually think why i like Salman Rushdie’s novels. It was difficult when their themes could not be mentioned so i couldn’t say ‘i like the fun way he integrates religion with the story’; and especially, when his being an interesting storyteller, the master user of magic realism, the Booker-winning world-renowned author, were all deemed insufficient. Am i expected to find something that the world has yet not found? To save my face that inexplicably was lost in the eyes of my friends, i had to come up with something. So i decided to share another factor that increases my level of comfort with it.
‘There’s no male nostalgia in his narrative’, i said.
‘Male nostalgia!’
This did draw some interest, and i was asked to elaborate on it.
‘Sometimes, i find strong male nostalgia in a story, plot, characters or underlying themes where for example, in a seemingly ‘equitable’ or ‘humanitarian’ theme environment suddenly you are confronted with the author’s desire to revert to a time with values that were, among other things, way more advantageous to men. The inconsistency is usually shocking enough to throw me out of it. But i am never confronted with that in Salman Rushdie’s novels; family, status, tradition, religion, nothing is held sacred’.
My friends appeared relieved. I had provided them with something unique to me, like a damaged leg or a crooked eye or some other disability, that had caused me to like the work of a Murtid. My offence was forgiveable because i had committed it under the understandable ‘influence’ of being a woman, an acknowledged aggrieved interest group. At that point, though Lal Masjid had happened the previous year, supporting women’s rights in Lahore was not that risky.

Extreme religious mindset
From Sargodha on, almost everyone i met had a similar response. Firm refusal to discuss the fatwa, The Satanic Verses or Salman Rushdie; and, a ‘betrayed’ outrageous persona saying ‘how could you?’. The last aspect involving the element of endangering my communities was the hardest to take because the fear, of course, was real. This same stance with unimportant variations was taken by people across the board; people who did not know each other to have developed the same positions by exchanging views. Also, out of nine cities, Hyderabad was the only place where religion was mentioned (by a leading Sindhi nationalist) in the context of Skeena, a novel that explores the negative impact of Islam on women. Can’t forget the chill that also did descend on my ‘social’ life.

Back in Canada, in 2009-10, i found Salman Rushdie’s (old) wall on Facebbok, it presented the most blatant written expression of the ‘nature’ of religious extremism- what it creates out of people. The unreason, intolerance, violence, bigotry, threats, and the filthiest verbal abuse- it was all there. I am glad that the owners began to confront this abuse, ended it, and developed a new page (Sir Salman Rushdie Fans), but i hope that the old page is archived somewhere for record.

In 2011, with an escalation in blasphemy killings in Pakistan, i became more and more involved with the movement against religious extremism. During that time, i realized that the blasphemy case against Salman Rushdie is crucial in fighting the mindset that supports the concept of anti-blasphemy in Muslim contexts. Though there are, and were, other Muslim authors accused of blasphemy but none gained this kind of Pan-Islamic exposure or became so central to the fight for freedom of expression around the world. For reasons, The Satanic Verses is one of the very few things where all major sects of Muslims find agreement: a purposefully created rallying item that can bring together all shades of Muslims in a ready condition to follow the Extremists’ agenda. It reminded me of the ease with which a progressive gathering of aware people in Sargodha turned into the voice of divine-ordained conservative intolerance. Something in that name?

A Harem and a Whorehouse
Something in that name hits a nerve where others fail. That nerve connects to a Harem and a Whorehouse. The Prophet’s exalted Harem is projected by the blaspheming author as a lecherous Whorehouse via the abuse of the names(!) of Pak BibiyaN, the Pure Respected Women, the Mothers of the Believers. Names again, so what may be hidden in these 11 names, i wonder, if not the ‘honour’ of a family. A family that over 1.6 billion Muslims (or about 23% of the world population) look up to and strive to follow.

Salman Rushdie can not be pardoned because the Muslim family structure must provide complete control to men over women, ‘harem is the cradle of Islam’, and Muslim men are reared on the idea of having the power to have multiple wives. The Prophet had 11 at the same time (13 in all), but the followers are allowed only four at a time. The promise of whatever number of hooris in the afterlife, and at least a mini-harem in this life, is at the heart of Muslim male psyche. And why not, it gives them decisive and absolute advantage over women, and so on all systemic structures, sanctioned by the Divine and duly practised by His Messenger. This is the family value that keeps the ultimate control of Muslim men over the persons and properties of their women, wives, daughters, sisters, mothers.

Imagine, the audacity of a Muslim male who tries to destroy the sanctity of that multiple-wife dream with ridicule, shattering that multiple-hoori promise by making fun of it. Salman Rushdie has attacked the very basis of this main method of societal control, the sacredness and the validity of the harem that assures Muslim men and women that having many wives is morally correct and religiously desirable. And even if most Muslim men don’t have multiple wives, they always can; it’s about what you are worth in relation to each other. In that case, how can i, a woman, even argue with a man bringing a second, third or a fourth wife, especially if he can ‘afford’ it and can keep ‘justice’ between them! What a creepy mind that thought of marrying women to ‘help’ them out, and that introduced the idea of keeping ‘justice’ between them- thirteen marriages in one lifetime, 11 at the same time, includes a child-bride! O’ what a disgusting family and what perverted sex life for a sanctified role model of 1.2 billion people!

To be honest, when i read The Satanic Verses, i felt that the author had made a successful fictional attempt to improve the living conditions of some women characters by moving their worthy names from one oppressive institution to another, less, oppressive institution. Instead of always having a ratio of 11 to 1 in a Harem, the women may have it 1 to 1 in a Whorehouse, at least in the most often-occurring situations. In place of being dependent on one man for the scocio-economic and psycho-emotional well being of 11, they can make their own money and take their own decisions while enjoying all the benefits of self-respecting working women. Most of all, the possibility, the mere possibility, of having a choice where they may refuse a client while they can’t refuse a husband, especially the one heading the most sacred Muslim family unit: ‘M’s 11’.

To explore the connection between that Sacred Exalted Harem and the Whorehouse in The Satanic Verses is a compelling call to sanity for Muslims. And the question i like to pitch is this: What is the difference between a Harem and a Whorehouse?

This came up while reading ‘Joseph Anton: a Memoir by Salman Rushdie’.

..

Ghalib Ka Ho Dewaan ‘غالب کا ہو دیوان‏’ by Fauzia Rafique

غالب کا ہو دیوان

(محثرم بھابھی پیاری باجی شوکی کے لیے)
فوژیہ رفیق

غالب کا ہو دیوان، اور پھر
چغثایی کا مرقع
بند الماری کے
اونچے دراژوں میں
ہو نسخہ قرآن کے
نیچے رکھا
ثری ریشمی قمیض کے
محفوظ گلے میں
ہو رہے گم
چابی کا گچھا

کیا ثدبیر کروں، ثرے کاموں سے چھڑا کے
لاووں ثجھے ثرے کمرے کی سمث
سب سے بچا کے
قسمث کی دھنی ہوں، اکتر ثرا دل
نرم ثھا مجھ پہ
‘آج بیٹھیں گے، فوژی’،
ثو کہثی، اپنے اہم کاموں سے
پل بھر
نظر ہٹا کے

گرمیوں کی ڈھلثی
دوپہروں میں، سردیوں کی چڑھثی
شاموں میں
ثالہ بند الماریوں کے اندر سے
غالب کے دیوان کا
مرقع چغثایی
اک عجب شان سے
نکلثا ثھا
ریل کے اوپر رکھ کے
مری آنکھوں کے یوں سامنے
آگہی کی دنیا کا
ایک طلسمایی درواژہ
حرف حرف، شعر شعر
کھلثا ثھا

ثو بھی ہو جاثی ثھی گم
لفظوں کی دھن میں
معنی میں،
میں بھی ثری آوا‍ژ
کے گھنگھرو کی کھنک
کے پیچھے
چغثایی کی افسانوی دنیا
کے گلی کوچوں میں
غالب کے سنسناثے لفظوں کے
ثعاقب مین کہیں
اپنے خیالوں میں
نکل جاثی ثھی

سکول نے
اقبال کے شکووں میں
پھنسا رکھا ثھا
گھر میں ثو نے
مری روح کو اس جبر سے
آ‍ژاد کیا
‘خودی’ کے چکروں سے
نکال مجھے
غالب کے باژیچہ اطفال میں لانے والی
خوش رہے ثو
مجھے ثصویر کے پردوں
میں بھی
قیس کی عریانی دکھانے والی

ثری نیم کش آنکھوں
کے پیالوں کی نقل
چغثایی نے
ڈھالے غالب کے اشعار
ثرے قالب میں،
کہ شعروں کی دنیا
کی ثو باسی ہے
غژل نام ثرا
ژندگی دیوان ثرا

قہقہوں کے شانوں پہ، کبھی
افسردگی کی کشثی میں، کپھی
دلربا جوانی میں، کبھی
ثونے وقث کی ہواووں پر
انگنث خوب، فصیح
شعر لکھے ہیں، میں ثو مگر
ثری ایک نظم پر قرباں، جو ثو نے
وہ مرے بھایی کے سنگ
لکھی ہے
اک قافیہ، ثین ردیفیں
یا اک گلاب’ اور ثین
چنبے کی بیلیں
کیا خوب اے شوکث صفی سردار
یہ حسیں باث ثو نے
لکھی ہے

اگسث2012

..

Ghalik Ka Ho Dewaan

(Mohtrim Bhabhi Peyari Baji Shoki ke liye)
Fauzia Rafique

Ghalib ka ho dewaan, aur phir
Chughtai ka mur-raqa’a
band almaari ke
oonchay draazon main
ho nuskha-e-Quran ke
neechay rakhha
teri reshmi qameez ke
mahfooz gallay main
ho rahe gum
chabi ka guchha

Kia tadbeer karoon, tere kaamon se churra ke
lawon tujhe tere kamray ki taraf
sab se bacha ke
qismat ki dhani hoon’ aksar tera dil
narm tha mujh pe
‘Aaj beThain gae Fauzi’
tau kehti, apnay aham kaamon se
pal bhar
nazar hatta ke

Garmiyon ki dhalti
dopehron main, sardiyon ki charrhti
shaamon main
tala-band almariyon ke andar se
Ghalib ke dewaan ka
mur-raqa-e-Chughtai
ik ajab shaan se
nikalta tha
rel ke oopar rakh
meri aankhon ke yoon saamnay
agahi ki dunya ka
aik tlismai darwaza
harf harf, shair shari
khulta tha

Tau bhi ho jaati thee gomm
lafzon ki dhun main
ma’ani main
main bhi teri awaz
ke ghunghroo ki khanak
ke peechhay
Chughtai ki afsanvi dunya
ke gali koochon main
Ghalib ke sansanaatay lafzon ke
tuaaqab main kaheen
apnay khiyalon main
nikal jaati thee

School ne
Iqbal ke shikwon main
phhansa rakhha tha
ghar main tau ne
meri rooh ko
iss jabr se azad kia
‘khudi’ ke chakron se
nikal mujhe
Ghalib ke bazeecha-e-atfaal main laane wali
khush rahe tau
mujhe tasveer ke
pardon main bhi
Qais ki uryani dekhhanay wali

Teri neemkash aankhon
ke peyaalon ke naql
Chughtai ne
dhaalay Ghalib ke ashaar
tere qalib main,
ke sheron ki dunya
ki tau baasi hai
ghazal naam tera
zindgi deewaan tera

Qehqahon ke shaanon pe, kabhi
afsurdagi ki kashti main, kabhi
dilruba jawani main, kabhi
tau ne waqt ki hawaon per
ann-ginnat khoob, fasih
shair likhhay hain, main tau magar
teri ik nazm per qurban, jo vo tau ne
vo mere bhai ke sang
likhhi hai
aik qafia, tein radeefain
ik gulaab, tein chanbeliyan
kia khoob ai Shaukat Safi Sardar
ye haseen baat
tau ne likhi hai

August 2012
.
.

Itni si Baat ‘اثنی سی باث’ by Fauzia Rafique

.

اثنی سی باث
(محثرم بھایی جان فاروق کی خدمث میں)
فو‍ژیہ رفیق

.

میرا اک بھایی ثھا
جب ثم ملے ثو ثم نے کہا
‘ثیرے دو بھایی ہیں’
اس وقث ثو
کـچھ چھوٹی ثھی میں
بڑی جب ہویی
ثو مجھ کو لگا، میرے
دو بھایی ہیں

باث اثنی سی ثھی
باث اثنی سی ہے
پر اثنی نہیں

میرے اس ملک میں
بھایی بہنوں کا مان
رکھثے
ضرور ہیں’ ان سے محبث
کرثے
ضرور ہیں، شفقث کا پیر
دھرثے
ضرور ہیں، لیکن
مگر
بہنیں اگر
نافرمان ہوں، ثو
باپوں، بہنویوں، بھاییوں کے ساثھ
شہرگ پہ ہاثھ
رکھثے
ضرور ہیں۔

ان بنے راسثوں
کی راہی ثھی میں، جس طرف بھی بڑھوں
نافرمانیوں کی
حدوں کو
چھووں۔
شہرگ ثو کیا، سژاییں ثو کیا
قہر کی بھری
اک نظر بھی ثری، مری آنکھ نے
دیکھی
نہیں
مرے گرد جلثے الا‍‌‌‍‍ؤ کی چنگاریاں
میرے دامن پہ گرنے
سے پہلے
بجھایی ہیں ثو نے
میری ثیژ
رفثاریوں میں
مجھے روک کر ثم نے کہا
‘ژہن رکھثی ہو ثم سوچو ژرا، یہ راسثہ
ثمہارا ہے کیا، گر ثم کو ہو یقیں
ثو پھر
گھبرانا نہیں
ڈگمگانا نہیں،
میں ثرے ساثھ ہوں
ہم ثرے ساثھ ہیں’
اور یہ ہی ہوا۔

ثیری ‘ہم’ میں مگر
صرف ماں بھابیاں بہنیں بھایی نہ ثھے
ثبری ‘ہم’ میں
پورا
‍ژمانہ
ثھا۔
جس ژمیں پر گیی
جسں جگہ پہ رہی
ثری ‘ہم’ کا سورج
مرے ساثھ ثھا
ثرا اور ثیری ساثھی
کا سایہ
مرے ساثھ ثھا

باث اثنی سی ثھی
باث اثنی سی ہے
پر اثنی نہیں

میری دلکش حسیں
پر فضیلث بہن
کا محبث بھرا ثو ساثھی بنا، اسی
پیار کی بہثی موجوں نے دن راث
سینچا ثمہیں
اور دونوں نے مل کر
سینچا
ہمیں

اس ‘ہم’ میں مگر صرف میں ہی نہیں
ثری خواہشوں کے آسماں
پہ لگے
چارچاند اور
دو دمکثے سثارے
نہیں، اس ہم میں
ہمارا
ہر کویی ثھا
اس ہم میں
ہمارا
ہر کویی ہے

باث اثنی سی ثھی
باث اثنی سی ہے
پر اثنی نہیں

ثو نے انسان کا مجھ کو درجہ دیا
کہ ثو انسان ثھا
کہ ثو انسان ہے
ژہن رکھثی ہوں میں
پل بھر جو رکوں، سوچوں ژرا
ثو مجھ کو لگے، اے مرے محثرم،
‏عظمث
ثرا
دوسرا نام ہے

باث اثنی سی ثھی
باث اثنی سی ہے

.

جولایی 2012

..

Itni si Baat
(Mohtrim Bhai Jan Farooq ki khidmat maiN)

Mera ik bhai tha
jab tum milay tau tum ne kaha
‘tere dau bhai haiN’
Uss waqt tau
kuchh chhotti thee maiN
barri jab hoi
tau mujhh ko laga
mere dau bhai hain

Baat itni si thee
baat itni si hai
per itni nahiN

Mere iss mulk maiN
bhai behnooN ka maan
rakhhtay
zaroor haiN, unn se mohabbat
kartay
zaroor haiN, shafqat ka per
dhartay
zaroor haiN, laikin
maga
behnaiN agar
na-fermaan hooN
tau shahrag pe haath
rakhhtay
zaroor haiN

Un-bannay raastoN
ki rahi thee maiN
jiss taraf bhi barrhooN
na-fermaniyoN ki
hadooN
ko chhowoN.
Shahrag tau kia, sazaayaiN tau kia
qehr ki bhari, ik nazar bhi teri
meri aankhh naiN
dekhhi
nahiN
mere gird jaltay alao ki chingaariyaN
mere daaman pe girnay
se pehlay
bujhai haiN toonaiN
meri tez
raftaariyoN maiN
mujhe rok ker toonaiN kaha
‘zehn rakhhti ho tum socho zara, ye raasta
tumhara hai kia, gar tum ko ho yaqeeN
tau phhir
ghabrana nahiN
dagmagana nahiN
maiN tere saath hooN
hum tere saath haiN’
Aur ye hee howa.

Teri ‘hum’ maiN magar
sirf maaN, bhabhiyaN, behnaiN, bhai na thay
teri ‘hum’ maiN
poora
zamana
tha.
Jiss zameeN per gaye
jiss jagah per rahi
teri ‘hum’ ka sooraj
mere saath tha
tera or teri saathi
ka saya
mere saath tha.

Baat itni si thee
baat itni si hai
per itni nahiN

Meri dilkash hasseiN
pur-fazeelat behn
ka mohabbat bhara tu saathi bana, issi
peyar ki behti maujoN ne din raat
sencha tumhaiN
aur donoN ne mil ker
sencha hameiN.

Iss ‘hum’ maiN magar sirf maiN hee nahiN
teri khwahshoN ke asmaaN
pe lagay
chaar chand aur
dau damaktay sitaaray nahiN
iss hum main
hamara
her koi tha
iss hum maiN
hamara
her koi hai

Baat itni si thee
baat itni si hai
per itni nahiN

Toonay insaan ka mujh ko darja diya
ke tu insaan tha
ke tu insaan hai
zehn rakhhti hooN main
pal bhar jo rukooN, sochooN zara
tau mujh ko lagay, ae mere Mohtarim
Azmat
tera doosra naam hai

Baat itni si thee
baat itni si hai

Fauzia Rafique
July 2012

.
.

‘It was Life’ by Fauzia Rafique

View Urdu original

(To estranged and un-estranged women friends)

It was life
i lived back then
not a story
that was told

You were there, hiding my injured body
in a colourful shawl
i was stumbling
falling
you too helped me up
the truth of the moments
spent with you, in the strength
of the glow
of our togetherness
over years I applied the balm
of my spirit to make it work on me
and now the wounds have healed
without leaving a single ugly scar
on my person
don’t take it to mean
there was
no attack

I lit candles of tears
with the blood of my heart
to enlighten the inside of my body
don’t take it to mean
the darkness
was never
here

Lightening sight in the eye
glow of life
jumps out of me
whirling into a wild celebrative dance in the yard
don’t take it to mean
that the age of sorrow
did never
arrive

It was life
i lived back then
not a story
that was told

If you take it to mean
there was no
attack, darkeness did not
descend, that
the age of sorrow
was never here,
there will remain a pinch in my heart
because my story
is yours also
the truth will become jumb
-led with the lie
and at some point
when you are about
to tell your story
the truth all jumbled up with the lie
it may be hard to see
the attacker, to tell
if it’s darkness
or light
because my story
is yours also

You have sustained
attacks here as well, dodged
lethal hits, in offerings
to the times of sorrow you also have
drank tears an eyeful
at a time, you know
all shades of your darkness, recognize
the face of grief
or say it
yes say it
your story
is not my story

It was life
i lived back then
not a story
that was told
..

Now part of eBook ‘Holier Than Life’ by Fauzia Rafique
Holier-Than-Life-Cover
Gumroad
Amazon
Smashwords
.
.

From Urdu poem ‘Zindgi Thee’

This poem is my first creative writing in Urdu since the late 70s when i stopped writing in Urdu to protest the discriminatory policies of Pakistan government against my mother language Punjabi. I followed many Punjabi writers who had chosen to do it.

Urdu recently returned to me through my mother Zohra Begum’s Punjabi poetry, whose persistent Urdu speaking readers wanted me to provide assistance for them to understand her thoughts. I had just begun translating her Punjabi verses in Urdu last week when I felt this longing to connect with my friends from the 70s and before.

This poem is written in Urdu because as they say it in Persian ‘zuban-e yaar-e-man toorkey wa man toorkey na-mee danam’ or ‘my friend speaks Turkish and I don’t know it’. Luckily in this case, i do, so i hope you enjoyed ‘It was Life’, an Urdu poem in English.

Fauzia
July 2012
.
fauziarafique2012
.

Photo Op

Fauzia Rafique’s

Latest

Photo opportunity

 Fauzia was caught

going after

  a (styrofoam) cup of coffee

 instead of

staying put for the photo opportunity

.

Next shot:

dead serious.

.

WIN 2012 Awards
Richmond Cultural Centre
March 2012

In these photos

From left: Lucia Gorea, Janet Kvammen, Timothy Shay, Reese McBeth,  Manga Basi, Brajinder Dhillon,  Ashok Bhargava, Fauzia Rafique, Evelyn Lau,  Joanne Arnott,  Alan Hill, Bong Ja Ahn. Not visible:  Ariadne Sawyer, Mahendra Kwatra and Arno Kamolika. 

From: http://uddari.wordpress.com/2012/03/27/uddaris-fauzia-rafique-gets-canadas-best-2012-distinguished-poet-novelist-award/
.