Saturday July 20, 2024

Literati still get acknowledged!

By Mobarik A Virk
March 20, 2017


The internationally acclaimed Canadian journalist, Kathey Ganon, and the famous architect and art patron, Naeem Pasha, arranged a huddle at their place to celebrate the works and achievements of renowned women rights’ activists, writer and poetess, Ms Kishwar Naheed Saturday evening.

It was indeed a wonderful way to pay tribute to a lady who had struggled throughout her life and is still struggling for women rights and at the same time is making tremendous contributions to country’s literature through her novels, poetry and columns in the newspapers. Kishwar Naheed was recently awarded the prestigious 'Kamal-e-Fun' award for literature.

Or, at least it seemed so great to me, probably because I am not invited to many such functions where our writers, poets and intellectuals are honoured, respected and acknowledged for their works! And their contribution towards the society at large!

So, it was a pleasant surprise for me to see dignitaries like the Indian High Commissioner Gautam Bambawala and wife, the German Ambassador Ms Ina Lepel, the Canadian High Commissioner HE Perry John Calderwood and the Austrian Ambassador Dr Brigitta Blaha among the guests.

The presence of these dignitaries, in addition to a bunch of prominent poets and writers based in Islamabad elated my spirits. Still there are people around who appreciate the good works done by our literati. In fact even before the government or the governmental institutions come to know about those!

Ms Kanwal Iftikhar recited one of the most famous poems of Kishwar Naheed, highlighting the state of women in Pakistan, ‘Ham Gunahgar Auratain’. And I realized that her recital, without the aid of any musical instruments, has amplified the impact of this poem. I had listened to this poem so many times over the past so many years! But never felt the impact the way it was created by Kanwal Iftikhar. It was simply fabulous!

Tina Sani and Nayara Noor were the two names that came instantly to my mind. Wonder if the ‘Coke Studio’ people would like to listen to her singing this poem by Kishwar Naheed as well!

And then the floor was thrown open for others present. Shakeel Jazab, Farakh Yar, Haris Khaleq, Hassan Abbas Raza and the host, Naeem Pasha recited their poems.

Shakeel Jazeb was as incisive and battering in presenting his thoughts as ever. It was a long time that I met Farrakh Yar and he was as vibrant and loud in his lyrical recital as he was the first day I met him many a years ago.

Hassan Abbas Raza, in addition to reciting his poetry, presented another facet of his personality when he sang a lovely song in the sweet Siraiki language. He was justifiably appreciated and applauded.

Haris Khaleeq, in his two poems in English language, aptly portrayed the worst form of human crisis in Pakistan’s tribal agencies and in Aleppo, the city in Syria. The magician of Waziristan in FATA and that of Palmist of Aleppo were too painful even to listen to.

And it was definitely the most pleasant thing for (at least) me when Naeem Pasha recited a poem in Punjabi language. He recited one in English as well. But I felt good that Punjabi language was also represented in the gathering. No flattering!! Just what I honestly felt!

Another thing that hit me as strange was as to what is common between the bankers and statisticians and poetry and literature!? We know that the most popular and prolific humorist, Mushtaq Yousafi, was a banker. But three out of five poets/writers present among the guests also happen to be career bankers or doing something with accounts and statistics. Farrakh Yar and the fiction writer, Hamid Shahid, are the bankers while Shakeel Jazeb is a career civil servant, most probably from the Accounts Group!

Probably their professions are too dry and they indulge in poetry and literature to bring some spice in their lives!

And the hostess, Kathey Ganon, still recovering from the deadly attack on her in Kabul that she miraculously survived, was briskly moving around all over the place, her arm still strapped in steel and plastic and the other hand permanently distorted. I wonder if the steel and plastic cast on her arm was stronger or the nerves of this fragile looking lady!

Well, it was a great evening, I must say and the food was sumptuous. Some guests left after the dinner but many stayed back to keep the party going. And why not? How frequently we get an opportunity to go to such a party!