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August 8, 2016

Remembering Jaun Elia


August 8, 2016


For all those who complain that Karachi’s literary scene is going nowhere, it was commendable to see a houseful as despite the fear of rain, many turned up to attend a candid gathering at The Second Floor (T2F) on Sunday evening,  honouring the memory of poet Jaun Elia.

Moderated by author Mohammed Hanif, the panel saw renowned faces from the literary circle including poet Zahida Hina, Peerzada Qasim, journalists Wusutullah Khan and Peerzada Salman and Asif Farrukhi and Khalid Ansari.

Reminiscing about the days spent with Jaun, Zahida Hinda spoke about how he started calling him ‘Bubu’ later because the word was used to refer an elder sister in his village Amroha: “I used to be worried about his wealth and inquired about his appetite because he seldom ate dinner on the prescribed time rather he would always ask me to pack it all together. I was later told that he used to have his food much later into the night hence never ate earlier.”

She mentioned that as a poet, Jaun was well read and kept himself updated: “He was a thorough poet who knew the weight of words in a couplet and would point out if the word was not suited in a line.”

Peerzada Qasim who first saw Jaun at a Mushaira said Jaun was famous in circles even before his first work was published but he felt that the people didn’t know the other side of Jaun’s poetry which was more than the couplets limited to existentialism.

Qasim referred to Jaun’s ghazals which had a longing for the past and delved into the nostalgia often seen in romanticism: “Jaun had a vast knowledge about many subjects and it is told that he taught Bible in his house and often that literariness is ignored by many.”

Reiterating Qasim’s point, Wusutullah Khan said that Jaun’s grasp over various subjects can be verified from the fact that he never repeated the content of a topic which he had already stated; rather he would always come up with something novel.  Khan added that thanks to the social media, Jaun was not anyone’s property and people from places like Mian Chunnu held sittings discussing the poet.

Khalid Ansari, who had collected and published Jaun’s works, said that Jaun even had fans in Afghanistan and Patna where the people were curious about the poet who was being widely read.

“When I met Jaun, I was barely a teenager and although Jaun didn’t mind me sitting with him he warned me that I wouldn’t be able to pace with the current times, and I realised his words after his death that I was far ahead as compared to my contemporaries,” he recounted.

Given that Ansari was responsible for publishing Jaun’s poetry and prose, he told that Jaun had given him the job of rewriting his poems because of his handwriting but he was able to reach out to him after a gap of five years.

After dedicating two of Jaun’s couplets to Sabeen Mahmud, Peerzada Salman who is also a poet said that he did not agree with the use of word ‘cult’ for Jaun: “He is a canonical figure and limiting him to ‘cult’ would be unjust.”

He added that most gatherings held for Jaun were merely sittings to remember Jaun’s witticism and often his poetry and seriousness was ignored.

Referring to an incident about Jaun’s unpredictable nature, Asif Farrukhi narrated an incident when Jaun broke down after he saw Farrukhi’s father watering plants telling him how he could do so for he had left his roots behind.

But when it was said that Jaun need not be restricted to quips, Asif pointed out that we tend to trivialise people and the harsh times in Jaun’s life are not unknown to people: “Once Jaun was supposed to recite in a Mushaira but he refused to do so, upon asking he revealed that he would have read out the poem he wrote a day earlier and going to the recital would come at the cost of the poem he would write that very day. So this was the same Jaun who was so concerned about his poetry as well.”

Later the attendees read out different couplets and shared their experiences of coming across Jaun and how his poetry cast an impact on their lives.

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