Bilingual book of Faiz’s poems by Goethe Institut

Faiz Ahmed Faiz is internationally recognised as a revolutionary poet who believed in social reforms and devoted his poetry and struggle to the uplift of oppressed humanity. Though his early poetry had conventional themes of love and beauty, all his later works focused a broad canvas of humanity as he realised that there was more in life than just the themes worked on by most of his contemporaries. He effectively revolted against exploiters of human beings and raised his strong voice for the alleviation of sufferings and injustices from society.

A bilingual book of Faiz’s poems highlighting various aspects of his poetry was launched by Goethe Institut on Friday. The poems titled Jab teri samandar ankhon mein have been translated into German by the institute’s former director (Karachi) Dr Markus Litz and its language department head, Shamim Manzar.

Salima Hashmi, daughter of Faiz, was the chief guest at the event.

Speaking on the occasion, Ms Hashmi said that she was not a scholar of the person and works of Faiz and that she was invited by the Writers Forum because she was his daughter. She regaled the audience with an anecdote of the time when Faiz was serving in the British Army as lieutenant colonel in its public relations department. She said he was invited to a dinner by the commanding officer, whose wife asked Faiz to recite his poetry. Faiz did not like the idea arguing that his poetry was in Urdu. “You should have written in English, which is a better language,” the lady remarked.

Ms Hashmi informed the audience that to mark Faiz centenary last year, her family set up a museum, Faiz Ghar, which had his books, letters, certificates, medals and other articles on displayed.

Sifting through his papers, Salima Hashmi had discovered letters written by Faiz to his wife, Alys. They were in a bad shape as insects had gone through them but were restored by Asma Ibrahim, the curator of the State Bank Museum. The letters, published in book form titled Two loves, written by him when he was in the Sahiwal jail. His daughters, Salima and Muneeza, had once visited him in the jail, where Faiz had grown a garden.

Salima Hashmi said that last year she had visited the jail’s cell, where Faiz had been kept. It had an inscription ‘Ahata-i- Faiz’ on its façade and the garden was still there, she added.

She also presented some of his letters, one of them read: “I think pain and unhappiness are different. Pain is like death of a close one and unhappiness is something inside which can be changed…” While Faiz mourned the dead in jail, he rejoiced in the living more, said Ms Hashmi.

Goethe Institut Director Dr Negwar, said that he felt being lucky to present the book, and informed the audience that the co-author, Dr Markus Litz, had left for Germany. To Germans, Faiz Ahmad Faiz was a special personality as he was born on the eve of the World War-I, he grew up during the British rule and saw the World War-II. Paying tribute to Faiz, he said he was a great poet with strong moral convictions.

He hoped that the book would help rouse German people’s interest in Faiz’s life and works, which reflected the 20th century.

Shamim Manzar presented Faiz’s three Urdu poems — Aiy Roshniyon ka shehr, Darde Tanhai and Jab teri samandar ankhon mein. Dr Negwar presented the German translation of the poems.


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