Revolutionary Urdu poet Faiz Ahmad Faiz's elder daughter Salima Hashmi is at the Zee Jaipur Literature Festival for a session on A Poet's Legacy where she remembers her father. Minutes before she was leaving for Lahore, we catch up with her for a candid conversation at the author's lounge in Diggi Palace.
Dressed in a turquoise kaaftan, she beamed as she heard Faiz and wrapped the long shawl around her shoulders.
"Being Faiz's daughter was one aspect but he was first a great friend. During my critical years he was missing because of his time in the jail. When he returned I had fancied myself as an adult. So our relationship nurtured as friends," she says.
Talking about her father, she says, "He had a quiet presence in the house. But to miss out on that was hurtful. Daughters are naturally closer to fathers. You eventually learn that you need to give up to understand that certain things are to be fought for."
Actress Shabana Azmi with artist Salima Hashmi at the Jaipur Literature Festival (Photo: IANS)
Salima believes that being Faiz's daughter serves as a bridge for making people think in the sub continent. She is overwhelmed to see how his reach has grown ever since he passed away. "People in most parts of India understand that there is a strong message behind his poetry which is important in the difficult times that we're living in," she adds.
Salima's mother Alys too had a key role in her upbringing but in a very different way. "My mother was more mercurial. She was quite the opposite of my father. One of the things that they shared, and perhaps I got the legacy, is politically, they both believed in people to people contact."
Being brought up in a literary and politically influenced family, both Salima and Moneeza have seen their parents develop a funny bone for serious issues."My parents had a terrific sense of humour. So when things got dark, they could see the funny aspect. Here also I feel like home because there are similar things to laugh about."
Faiz is still talked about. His poetry is remembered. How does it feel? "It only underlines the fact that good poetry is for all times. The fact that it's full of compassion and human suffering but it strongly embodies hope for the future. And not just for the elite but ordinary."
Faiz was a people's poet but before he could open the floor to public, he restlessly recited his nazms in the family. Sometimes he was desperate to vomit his thoughts. His poem Dhaka Se Waapsi was a very painful experience for him. 'Khoon ke dhabbe dil khulenge kitni barsaaton ke baad'. "I had shared his pain and through that I saw the possibility to see hope for future," she adds.
Talking about her favourite peom, Salima says, "My favorite poems alter over time. When I was young I used to listen to 'Mujhse Pehli Si Mohabbat Mere Mehboob Na Mang' sung by Noor Jahan and now his later poetry stays more with me - Mere Dil Mere Musafir Hua Phir Gun Musafir Ki Watan Badar Hua Hum Tann".
"People often ask how I feel when someone recites his poetry and I say just the way you do. Because I don't think I am the only daughter of Faiz. I think there are millions of daughters of Faiz."
Faiz Ahmad Faiz's poetry transcends boundaries of time: Salima Hashmi