SALEEM FIGAR | POET AND WRITER | LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM
Figar was born in a village of district Jhelum and after his schooling he moved to England in search of greener pastures.
Like other young men of his generation, he was deeply impressed by the revolutionary poet Sahir Ludhianvi, and remembered many of his poems by heart.
Later on, Faiz also became a favourite of his, but Figar proudly says that he never mimicked Faiz or Sahir’s styles, not even in his early poems.
Like most novices, he started with ghazal, but soon realised the restrictions of metre and rhyme were great obstacles in the way of free expression. Ghazal, as we all know, is not a consistent poem on a particular theme, but each couplet stands by itself and presents a different unit of thought. This fragmentary nature makes the ghazal a unique phenomenon in world literature.
The traditional ghazal which usually consists of love lyrics has a fixed imagery for describing the beloved: her erect structure always like a cypress tree; her face fresh like a rose and shining like the moon or the sun; her eyes like those of a deer’s and her locks akin to a dark night or poisonous snakes or dangerous snares. Good poets, however, have used this traditional imagery in a manner that the whole context changes and we are face to face with a different kind of reality.
Figar’s ghazals are never a patchwork of disconnected thoughts; they take us smoothly from one thought to another with an emotional swing.
But despite his mastery over the ghazal, Figar feels more comfortable with the format of nazm, and more so with nasri nazm or prose poem. The poem on page 74 is an elegy of an unborn child who is murdered before he could see the light of day. At first sight it seems to be an anti-abortion poem, but a closer read shows it is not a simple feticide, but an act of sectarian violence in which a man and his pregnant wife are brutally murdered. The focus, however, soon shifts to collateral damage of violence which becomes the central theme of the poem:
“Travelling through centuries,
For a short stay, I came to this inn, my mother’s cosy womb.
I was waiting for my limbs to grow
I felt the growth of fingers on my hands
My eyes, my nose, my ears were taking shape
But then suddenly those burning bullets
Pierced through my mother’s womb
And went straight into my tender incomplete body”
POET AND WRITER
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM