Saturday, July 4, 2009

Kaleem Usmani

Poet Kaleem Usmani addresses the youth on behalf of those who have gone before. He says, “We were leaders of the caravan but you are its spirit: we were just the title while you are the tale itself. Keep the gates of hate closed forever to yourselves; hold the flag of this country high forever.”

The national song “Yeh Watan Tumhara Hai,” from which these lines have been quoted in translation is usually regarded as the richest in terms of content and message. Other work of the poet, especially his film songs, revereberate with the same love of life:
These mountain roads will be forlorn,
and the arms of valleys perpetually outstretched
until you lift your downcast eyes and smile.
These lines from 'Khamosh Hain Nazaray' have the same ethos as the national song quoted above, as here again it is the people who bring meaning to the beauty of their landscape.

Incidentally, the song was filmed in Swat, the valley from where millions of people have been displaced recently. Consider the last stanza to be a message from the late poet to all IDPS and those who are trying to help them today:

Do not lose heart, darkness will be gone:
Lights will appear again, again there will be mornings;
Now, light your heart with a ray of hope…
I hope you will agree with me that Kaleem Usmani was someone who should be remembered.


  1. In my humble opinion, it is a two way process.

    Just as an aquarium filled with water, but devoid of any fish means nothing, a fish out of water can not survive either.

    Without the locals, Swat might look like a ghost town. Similarly, once out of their "mulak", the Swatis are mere suffering IDPs.

    Further, yes, I totally agree that a poet of such brilliance should be remembered. Another gentleman, whom I had referred recently in a comment is Allan Faqeer, who was a typical Sindhi local in his mannerism and attire but somehow, without his image and his influence, my "Pakistaniat" would never be the same. I believe today is his death anniversary.

    "Itnay baray jeevan saagar mein...
    Toonay Pakistan deeya... ho Allah... ho Allah..."

    You have very correctly pointed out that Kaleem Usmani deserves more than what the recognition he got. “Yeh Watan Tumhara Hai,” is a very profound song and you have very eloquently translated its essence. We are astonished at that connections that you very aptly find between the different elements.

    'Khamosh Hain Nazaray' from that nostalgic movie Bandagi revived the memories of that loveable legend Waheed Murad, look at the movements so classic and the wording of lyrics – top class.

    The writing of Rashid Minhas from his diary is a rare gift. Omer khayyam’s translations, the encouraging remarks of a young girl and Rashid Minhas reaction and once again that simple but fateful poem of his made this an interesting chapter.

  3. I don't know about Urdu literature much and i was never interested in it.But now i have realized if there is someone who can explain its extract and essence,than your interest will be generated itself.

    Last stanza no doubt is encouraging,well i agree when you have nothing to live on, you have one thing still and that is "hope"!

    The last and only element of survival...

  4. What strikes me upon this first reading here of post and comments is the "timelessness" of each effort we spend with children and with the best culture has to offer as well...

    Here in these posts and in the comments are reasons for some to be "keepers of the fires" - to fan the embers and to actually make literature and culture in the midst of all the chaos - while others must be out on the "front line" of practical care for the dying, suffering and displaced. The "keepers of the fires" are part of that care as well - keeping alive the best of a culture - making that hope alive!

    Somehow, most of us with our eyes wide open and not in gated communities are all today on the "frontline" in some way -

    Believe it or not, America in it's lower middle class and lower groupings at least - America is falling apart too.

    There are so many who are needing support to just stay alive...some of us are on two front-lines" ie, as "physical & actual caregivers" - teachers and professional mentors as well as the "front-line" of re-flaming the embers of former culture-makers - by current writing, teaching beyond mere duty - there are so many ways to enliven the "spark within"...

    I have been trying to do both in some ways as a writer-contemplative-activist. We are more than ever - all of us - beset by great human need.

    We live right across the street from a little mini-ghetto with children of young single moms at my door a lot needing attention.

    Having just listened to Speaking of Faith discuss last night "The Spirituality of Play" I was much more open than usual to a visit from my little neighbors yesterday!

    Also I've been a writer-mother for years with extremely traumatized children. Three out of four children lost all their parents - one son's genius kind-hearted creatively-gifted mother -out of control through drugs, alcohol and the desperate search and need for absolution - finally died in restraints in a jail cell. We became this son's SEVENTH home when he was four. He remembered almost everything then and now from his early childhood. I am the third mom for one of the Ugandan sons who lost the first to early natural death, the second (to whom he was very attached) to suicide. Bonding of course has been for years more difficult because of the understandable question almost always for these sons: what will happen to these parents?
    (This is something to consider with the displaced and bereaved children.)

    The other two lost their parents in the little holocaust of Uganda shortly after the devastation of Idi Amin)...

    So writing and creative efforts has usually taken second or third slot. Yet of course this is only ONE of the reasons for not doing more to follow one of my strongest abilities...

    And then there are some of you here, ReeBz at least - who's family is doing what they can to help actually keep the displaced people alive.

    The millions of displaced is just beyond comprehension!

    Here in this little community we can demonstrate, inspire and train one another in being "keepers of the fire" for future generations. There are these beautiful inter-generational connections and inter-cultural recognitions here.

    And each child with whom we are may be one less who would be inclined to destroy on some future day.

  5. great job sir khurram..very absorbing

  6. Greetings,

    "Do not lose heart, darkness will be gone:
    Lights will appear again, again there will be mornings;
    Now, light your heart with a ray of hope…"

    Beautiful words.

    Thank you for sharing this.

    All good wishes,