Tuesday January 18, 2022

Saeed Ahmed’s enigma in the long poem Ekiswain Chand ki Raat

January 09, 2022

Modern World experience chaos, loss of identity, demise of social, religious and cultural values of the West in WWII, 1945. The future of whole Europe and the West was at crossroad when the question of man’s civilization was raised in the political, social and literary circles. As it is said, the literature is the reflection of society. The literature after these horrible happenings in the human history turned its page with regard to the themes and forms in all its genres. In poetry, the known poets are Aldingon, F.S. Flint, T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound who not only shifted from the set themes of literature but also the form of poetry -a shift from blank verse to free verse.

In Urdu literature, the post war effects were also felt by the writers, social thinkers and poets. In modern poetry of Urdu literature, the already established themes were replaced with the new themes that were loneliness, loss of identity, hegemony of capitalism over human values while putting a question mark on the civilization of human being. Nazar Muhammad Rashid, Meera Jee, Majeed Amjad and Aftab Iqbal Shamim are the notable modern poets who highlighted the post war themes in their poetry in free verse.

In 21st century, the free verse (Azaad Nazm) poetry continued and flourished in Rawalpindi and Islamabad. These twin cities are termed as the cities of modern poetry in Urdu Literature. The known poets are Daoud Rizwan, Anwar Fitrat and Syed Kashif Raza among Saeed Ahmed.

Saeed Ahmed introduced himself as a poet at the very young age. His first book of poetry – ‘Be Aab ainon ky shehr main’ appeared on the poetic stage of Urdu Literature in 1993 and was highly appreciated in the literary circles. The very first book was based on Ghazals. Later on, he turned his potential towards Azaad Nazm, perhaps his thoughts could only be expressed in Azaam Nazam not in Ghazal. So, ‘Din k Neelaab ka Khaab’ –the collection of poems appeared on the literary stage and earned country wide fame.

Almost after a decade, another notable poetic work ‘Ekiswain Chand ki Raat’, which is a long narrative poem has been added to his literary career. Saeed Ahmed is very sophisticated and delicate poet. Among his contemporaries, he is considered the most complicated poet because of his poetic techniques and treatment with the poem. He is a difficult poet to understand especially for a conventional reader.

By using abstract poetic discourse, he generates ambiguity and uncertainty within the context. Complete images and symbolic words make the Poem difficult to decipher. Saeed uses hyperbolic language, ran-on sentences and chanting rhythms to paint impressive pictures. The structure of this long poem has been woven by the devices like alliteration, repetition, pattern of stressed and unstressed syllable, using of half rhymes and para rhymes in the lines. The lines of different length, its arrangement in non-conventional way show great craftsmanship of the poet.

Even the scattered and uneven lines non-standard rhythmic structure; there is a balance between cantos. Phrases are linked together by alliteration. Sensible and mastery use of assonance produce internal rhyme and rhythm. The poetic devices used by Ahmed, make the poem compressed and composed. The tone of the poem is sad, gloomy carrying abrupt speeches which result into illusion after illusion and the reader experiences mirages.

The title of the long poem is ‘Ekiswain Chand ki Raat’ (The moon of twenty first night) which has been bracketed with the phrase, ‘The dialogue in timelessness inn’ indicates the 21st century dark night and a useless dialogue in a space where no time exists. This title helps us to guess about the mood of the poem, the main concern of the poet is ‘word and time’, which have lost its worth?

The society, in new century, is facing inner turmoil and it is ultimate result of ignorance.

This seems to be an ambitious attempt to comprehend the loss of rich civilization. Although, it is quite difficult to relate the poem’s text with a specific region or society but echoing of the lines indicates towards sub-continent. The parents of Saeed Ahmed migrated from India and witnessed many tragic scenes during migration. Moreover, the consequences of that human disaster are still going on and poem contains the historical truths besides the present day dilemma. He puts question mark on the journey of idealism.

The poem delves into themes of trauma and expresses disgust the period after got freedom from colonial power.

This illusion is not only existed in society’s organs but also felt in the treatment of the poem. It is evident that while fabricating the verses, poet consulted Old Testament specially in the context of biblical allusion and vivid imagery. The most power full symbols used in the poem are, night cave, dream and blood etc Night represents cruelty, fear while the cave is a mark of backwardness, safety and meditation/loneliness and dream meant for tiredness, ignorance etc. This sort of diction highlights the degradation of values, norms and culture. This long poem is a sort of an epic, narrative filled with ambiguity and chaos. There is an unseen battlefield and war going on where one force is known and the second is invisible, it might be Angle or Satan. The diction of this modern epic is not easy that’s why some characters are covered in veil. Reader can observe the aimless world between the lines. Re-reading explores the multiplicity of meaning. Saeed Ahmed has tried to break the supernatural belief and invited man to reinvent fresh mode of belief based on reality. The Poem disowns the society where ‘life’ is accuser of the ‘word.’ The poet loves to play with letters, words and languages artistically. He smartly uses allegory to highlight religious flux and political upheaval. This long poem is a ‘short cry’ smothered by someone. The picture of present is very much interrelated with past and it seems that future is also under the state of confusion. The use of weapons like dazy cutter bomb etc makes the tomorrow ambiguous: uncertainty regarding future generation portrays vitality, listlessness and despair. Saeed Ahmed created an abstract poetic discourse, and by this he used the words in multi meanings. The profession and simultaneity of meaning are evident of his mastery. As a modern poet, his audience is humanity, he breaks the linguistic and literary boundaries. No doubt, he places the free Urdu verse in the line of English and other international languages. The legacy of N.M. Rashid, Meera jee which carried by ….. Aftab Iqbal Shamim etc is still going on and he proved himself a beautiful addition in Urdu free verse. He, as a poet, disowned oppression, segregation and discrimination. His poetry rebelled against the current scenario. It generates destructive impulse, where there is no hope ahead, i.e. look at the last lines:

Saeed Ahmed articulately paints the picture of a decayed and withered culture. Materialism is the cause which made the world a desiccated land. The poem draws on a dizzying array of literary allusion in order to reflect the futility of modern era.

Dr. Fareed Hussainee