Love has the inborn strength to weed out the seedlings of hatred - Hindustan Times
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Love has the inborn strength to weed out the seedlings of hatred

ByNirupama Dutt
Jun 16, 2024 08:10 AM IST

Bashir Badr, 89, who shone like a star for decades, was a regular at Chandigarh and in Punjab; his home in Meerut was burnt down during Hindu-Muslim riots in 1987; he moved to Bhopal and now lives there in oblivion as he lies in dementia having forgotten his own couplets which we still recall with love and longing

In hand this week is a thick volume of reflections on Urdu poetry, a language that started originating in the Indian subcontinent sometime in the 12th century inspired by the dialect spoken in the streets of Delhi or Dilli of yore, sharing its origins with Hindi, and is often referred to as the sibling of Hindi but with the influence of Persian, Turkish and Arabic. The first major poet of Urdu was Amir Khosrow (1253-1325) and was to evolve as the chosen language of the poets ranging from Ustad Zauq to Mirza Ghalib and many others who belonged to Ganga-Jamuni culture of Muslims and Hindus living together. In times to come it was taken to great heights by Allama Iqbal who penned the famous ‘tarana’: “Mazhab nahi sikhata aapas mein bair rakhna, Hindi hain hum watan hai Hindustan hamara.” Sadly, in recent times when Iqbal, who was hailed by fellow poet Sarojini Naidu as the poet laureate of Asia, was removed from the Delhi University syllabus in recent times amid protests from academics. Before one rambles on to the politics of language, let me get back to the book in hand.

Rakhshanda Jalil signs the book ‘Love In The Times of Hate’. (HT photo)
Rakhshanda Jalil signs the book ‘Love In The Times of Hate’. (HT photo)

The book in its beautiful glossy cover of red and white is titled “Love In The Time Of Hate” and penned by literary historian and translator Rakhshanda Jalil who views the theme in the mirror of Urdu poetry, which is the forte of the author who says, “ This is a book about love, love for one’s country and for all that goes to make it one we can be proud to belong to.” Interestingly, Jalil who started this remarkable work in 1992, has published by now some 40 books, big and small of translation, critique and more till date on the theme of togetherness. Commenting on this tremendous body of work, she says, “ I have put together this collection of essays in an attempt to put up some however feeble, however ineffective, however flimsy in the face of formidable faces.” She adds that call her a dreamer if you may, but in John Lennon’s words, “I am not the only one.”

Of burying hatred deep

The book opens with an inspiring couplet by the famous and much-loved contemporary poet of Urdu, Bashir Badr, “Saat sanduqon mein bharkar dafn kar do nafratein/ Aaj insaan ko mohabbat ki zaroorat hai bahut; (stuff all the hatred in seven boxes and bury them deep/ today humans need love more than anything else). Yes, the same Badr, 89, who shone like a star for decades, was a regular at Chandigarh and in Punjab. His home in Meerut was burnt down during Hindu-Muslim riots in 1987. He moved to Bhopal and now lives there in oblivion as he lies in dementia having forgotten his own couplets which we still recall with love and longing.

In her composite work on the much treasured pluralism of the Indian society book after book, Jalil has covered a wide range of genres ranging from fiction, poetry, memoirs with rare passion and persistence, including the iconic Munshi Prem Chand, who wrote in both Urdu and Hindi, Asghar Wajahat of “Jis Lahore nahi dekhya” fame, Saadat Hasan Manto, Shaharyar, Intizar Husain, Mushirul Hasan, Qurratulain Hyder, Krishan Chander, Gulzar and others. And the latest volume on Urdu poetry held many surprises for the author herself. She says, “There are love jihads and love jihads...that took the form of fortnightly columns on an online portal. My search yielded delightful result- I found vast amounts of poetry written by Hindu and Sikh poets onEid-e-Milad-un-Nabi as also large number of soz, mercia, naat, and manqabat, each being a form of devotional poetry on subjects culled specifically from Prophet Mohammad’s life or the early years of Islamic history, such as the events pertaining to the Battle of Karbala”. On the other hand, she discovered in equal measure, these explorations revealed large number of Muslim poets who have waxed eloquent on Holi, Diwali, Janmashtami, Gurpurab, Christmas, Basant and Rakshabandhan, not to mention many heartwarming poems on Ram, Krishna, Shiv, Guru Nanak, Buddha, Mahavir and Isamasih, as Jesus Christ is referred to in Urdu.

One closes a peep into this book, which is indeed love’s labour not lost with a couplet from a poet of Punjab who took this message of the composite.

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