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He taught self Urdu when Imam refused

EMINENT POET Chandrabhan Khayal has earned a prominent place in Urdu literary world as a poet of Nazm but few here are aware that Delhi-based Khayal hails from the State.

india Updated: Aug 26, 2006 07:22 IST

EMINENT POET Chandrabhan Khayal has earned a prominent place in Urdu literary world as a poet of Nazm but few here are aware that Delhi-based Khayal hails from the State.

Khayal hails from Babai in Hoshangabad, a place that doesn’t figure anywhere on the Urdu literary landscape. While it boasts of big names in Hindi literature like Harishankar Parsai, Makhanlal Chaturvedi and Bhawaniprasad Mishra, Hoshangabad never had any Urdu poet of repute despite its proximity to Bhopal, a centre of Urdu literature.

Khayal was in the State capital to participate in the ongoing Sahitya Akademi’s function on Friday. “I had gone to several Muslim households in my native town Babai to learn Urdu but they didn’t know the language and I even went to the Imam of the mosque who also refused saying that he could teach Arabic but not Urdu,” recalls Khayal on how he gained knowledge of the language after falling in love with it through film songs.

“I then learnt Urdu through a Hindi-Urdu self-teacher booklet and later understood the nuances of the language under the tutelage of Ramkrishna Muztar,” he said.

“Urdu is my mother tongue and until a few decades ago Urdu words formed a chunk of the vocabulary of Bundelkhandi,” said the poet who is saddened that Urdu is considered the language of Muslims only. “My relatives were surprised that I had become a Urdu poet,” he laughs.

Essentially a poet of Nazm, Khayal has written ghazals but feels that the genre is restrictive due to its format and also because he is a poet of protest.

“I prefer nazm as it gives me the freedom to pour out my emotions on any subject without any restriction”, says Khayal, whose nazms ‘Zara sambhal ke zaban kholo’ addressed to a rabble-rousing politician and the oft-quoted ‘haan ve musalman the’ attained immense popularity.

“It is so strange that languages like Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Bengali are not associated with any religion but Urdu is viewed differently,” says Khayal, who has several collections to his name.

“Ironically the mindset has become such,” he laments. One of his couplets reflects the pain, ‘milta naheen khud apne qadam ka nishaan mujhe/ kin marhalon mein chhod gaya karvaan mujhe’.

His most recent publication is ‘Laulak’, a long poetic composition on the life of Prophet Muhammad. He is the first non-Muslim poet in  several decades to pen the ‘Seerat’ in poetic form. Khayal who has won several awards has been working as journalist with Qaumi Awaz in Delhi.

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