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Home / Delhi News / Delhiwale: The poet of Galli Hakimji Wali

Delhiwale: The poet of Galli Hakimji Wali

Gaining insights into a verse writer’s intimate thoughts.

delhi Updated: Aug 21, 2020, 12:42 IST
Mayank Austen Soofi
Mayank Austen Soofi
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
A long-time dweller of Old Delhi’s Galli Hakimji Wali, Ms Zarrin writes poetry and also teaches Urdu literature.
A long-time dweller of Old Delhi’s Galli Hakimji Wali, Ms Zarrin writes poetry and also teaches Urdu literature.

The works of poets may linger in some high unattainable altitude but they themselves live in ordinary unremarkable streets. Such as Iffat Zarrin. This muggy afternoon the verse writer is standing amusedly on the middle of this cramped lane that is going all the way to her house. A long-time dweller of Old Delhi’s Galli Hakimji Wali, Ms Zarrin writes poetry and also teaches Urdu literature—she is an assistant professor in Delhi University’s Mata Sundri College for Women.

“These days I’m conducting classes on Google Classroom,” she informs, posing for a quick photo shoot—from a safe distance. “As a bimari (illness), coronavirus is certainly not good, but it does has given me sukoon (peace) for now I don’t have to go out much,” declares Ms Zarrin in her lecturer-like authoritative voice, which however is larded up with great dollops of friendly affection. In her 50s, she gamely agreed to become a part of the Proust Questionnaire series in which we nudge folks from diverse backgrounds to make “Parisian parlour confessions”, all to explore the lives, thoughts, values and experiences of Delhi’s citizens.

Exercising the privilege of being a poet, Ms Zarrin obviously peppered her responses with her own verses. Her Urdu was translated into English by poet Saquib Hussain.

Your favourite virtue or the principal aspect of your personality ‘It’s been ages since I started on a solitary inward journey, I’m unaware of my destination, but I’m still on the road.’ And while on the way, I try to be compassionate and empathetic to everyone, without an ounce of discrimination of any kind

Your chief characteristic Loyalty, punctuality and respect

What do you appreciate the most in your friends? Whoever stands by my side in adversity is my friend

Your main fault I trust people easily

Your favourite occupation Writing and teaching

Your idea of happiness To read or write anything profound or beautiful. ‘I’m a painter, and this is what is expected of my talent I’m bound to paint a portrait even of my adversary’

If not yourself, who would you be? I would have been a high-flying bird, soaring up along the sky

Where would you like to live? In some serene hill station, with at least one close friend with whom I can share all my feelings

Your favourite prose authors Munshi Prem Chand. He wrote about the plight of poverty-stricken farmers and labourers, and tried his best to fight social inequality through his timeless writings

Your favourite poets Meer Taqi Meer, Mirza Ghalib, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Firaq Gorakhpuri and Nasir Kazmi

Your favourite heroes in fiction Afsana Qalandar, aka Iqbal Bakht Saxena, a character in a short story by Qurratulain Hyder—he would always be adapting himself to help others

Your favourite heroines in fiction Umrao Jaan Ada. As she took culture and etiquettes to newer heights

Your favourite painters To be honest, I’m not much familiar with the painting world but I loved the persona of late MF Husain saab. He was always barefoot and he always dressed in white. I was lucky to have met him a number of times during poetry gatherings that were routinely held at the Ghalib Institute (near ITO)

Your heroes/heroines in real life My father, late poet Musheer Jhinjanvi, who taught me how to lead a principled life. I’m still following his path

What characters in history do you most dislike? Hitler, and the people responsible for Bhopal gas tragedy and Jallianwala Bagh massacre in Amritsar

Your heroines in world history Raziya Sultana and Zeenat Mahal. Arundhati Roy and Medha Patkar. Their names would be etched in history

Your favourite food and drink Dal-chaawal and roti sabzi. Chai

What do you hate the most? I hate hatred, and those people who divide us on religious grounds

The military event you admire the most rather than any particular war or battle, I chose to admire those who protect our nation by putting their life on the line. They have my utmost respect, and I present my salutations in their honour. ‘O country, we love every aspect, every shade of yours, We even consider your soil to be a healer.’

The reform you admire the most Women’s education

The natural talent you’d like to be gifted with To write well. ‘Stones for hands, and feet bound forever in chains, This is what I see whenever I see the mirror.’

How do you wish to die? Painless death, surrounded by my family

What is your present state of mind? Social distancing, online classes, staying home and hoping to save lives ‘The punishing loneliness has engulfed my heart, All that accompanies me now are these doors and windows. O life, I have been longing for you; come and hold my hand for once.’

Faults for which you have the most tolerance When people flatter you to get their things done

Your motto in life I never ever bother anyone for my sake

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