#ReadersSpecial: For Aftab Yusuf Shaikh, writing soulful poems is the only way to vent

  • Aastha Atray Banan, Hindustan Times
  • Updated: Feb 23, 2015 16:01 IST

For Aftab Yusuf Shaikh, a romantic and a self-confessed feminist, writing soulful poems is the only way to vent

Aftab Yusuf Shaikh, 25, is an English teacher by profession, but he is a dreamer and “worrier” in general thanks to the poet inside him. “I worry about everyone,” he says.

Doing Urdu to English translations as an additional job, Aftab comes across as a “rumani” soul – he talks slowly and smiles often, dreamily. His first book is now in the process of getting published, but he has published poems in many an anthologies – for example, Kamathipura in The Dance of Peacock Anthology printed by Hidden Brook Press and Watery Dreams in Miniature Anthology by Medusa’s Laugh Press. He has also been published in English journals like The Istanbul Literary Review and the Emerge Literary Journal and Urdu journals like Urdu Times Daily.

A good practising Muslim, who tries to say the namaz at least “four times a day”, he is also a Bachelor of Theology in Christian Studies and English Literature, which makes for interesting conversations. He smiles a lot, but when we take pictures, says he wants to look serious like poets do.

“My father often tells me you should have that personality,” he says. Shaikh had always been a writer but after suffering from acute leukemia in 2010 (which is now cured), he has become more serious. “I wrote a lot during that period. But not about death. About women, actually. They find space in lot of poems. My friends call me a feminist.”

His poem Kamathipura is an interesting one, and will shock you with its ending. It’s about a boy who goes to Kamathipura and as he is having sex with the prostitute, sees a birth mark and realises it’s his sister.

“It just came to me as I was writing.” He credits writing for being his saviour when he was in hospital. “It brought me closer to God and people.” His first book is about a girl he once met. He tells us the story, which has all the makings of a potboiler – there is a love triangle, sorrow and regret, all the essentials of a great love story. “I hope it works. It’s my tribute to that girl.”

From HT Brunch, February 22
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