Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Reading Mahjoor to Tagore

By Naseer A Ganai

At a function to release the stamp in the name of Peerzada Ghulam Ahmad Mahjoor at the SKICC here, the anchor of the show said
Rabindranath Tagore described Mahjoor as the 'Wordsworth of Kashmir.' Everyone in the audience clapped.

Audience is meant to clap, and it doesn't matter to them why they clap. The audience comprised of Mahila congress workers, some officials, some more yes-minister officials and officials of Cultural Academy of Art and Butchery.  All of them clapped.

They will never tell you why they clap over every utterance from the stage.  If you sneeze, they will clap. (How beautifully he sneezes!)
The anchor, who was ostensibly speaking in an English-like language, further said like 'Kashmir was heaven on earth.' This was followed by a huge round of applause. More claps!

The anchor, who was impressing himself more with his own voice, should be reminded of a small incident when in 2006 Jammu and Kashmir legislators went to Islamabad.

On their return, they said: "Islamabad looked like Europe." The legislators of the Heaven on Earth were surprised to see Europe in Pakistan’s Islamabad. Otherwise, it looks dreaded place where bombs explode in streets, in mosques and in air. During prayers and shopping. If Pakistan looked Europe to them, imagine what they will say once they will land in Bali. They would call it real heaven and look for 72 hoors.  

Thus exposure is necessary for the residents of alleged heaven on earth. Only then they will stop clapping. 

Mahila workers clapped for appeasing politicians, while officials clapped to appease higher officials. There's a method to this politics of appeasement. We are bonded together in this chain of appeasement.

When clapping stopped, I started wondering whether Tagore told Mahjoor himself that he is Wordsworth of Kashmir, or did he tell this to someone else, and that someone else accidentally conveyed it to Mahjoor. Or there is another possibility.  Tagore might not have stated this at all, but John Samuel, the head of Kashmir’s postal department, or his illustrious Kashmiri subordinates might have told this to the anchor to say it in order to give Mahjoor a romantic look and to let audience appreciate the worth of Wordsworth. 

Whether Tagore met Mahjoor or Mahjoor met Tagore is a question of debate. I think it is one of the crucial questions. When and where did Mahjoor meet Tagore or vice versa, and who were the witnesses of that ‘marathon meeting’ and what did they talk. What transpired in the meeting?

If they have not met, then we need not to bring witnesses and we should close the chapter saying there was no meeting at all. And when there was no meeting, obviously nothing transpired in the meeting which didn't take place. This issue should be settled once for all.
Now, the second issue. If Tagore has described Mahjoor as 'Wordsworth of Kashmir', this needs to be debated and researched. This should not be brushed aside as a matter of prestige and the presumption should not be presumed a fact. Let real facts come to fore.

If Tagore had not met Mahjoor, then how come Tagore read Mahjoor’s Kashmiri poetry and then described him as the Wordsworth of Kashmir? Was translation of Mahjoor’s work available at that time in Bengali and then Tagore read it in Bengali and then affectionately referred his fellow contemporary as Wordsworth? But why only Wordsworth of Kashmir, why not of Asia? Why Tagore confined him to Kashmir only?

Scholars should respond to these queries and explain us everything. Not Mahjoors. They should instead collect stamps.

A poet lives in the hearts of his people. He voices their fears. He speaks when they are silent and when they are silenced. Nation talks through its poets and litterateurs. And a nation never forgets mistakes of poets and politicians.

It is said Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah promoted Mahjoor over Abdul Ahad Azad. Thus Mahjoor became a court poet. Fifty years down the line, his progeny did no justice to him. They again made him a court poet by releasing a stamp in his name in an official function.
Sheikh was a towering leader. He was the voice of his people. Once. But then it took one foreign film for Kashmiris to understand what Sheikh was all about. In eighties, all those who saw Omar Mukhtar, came out of cinema halls and brought down tall portraits of Sheikh. It takes years to understand mistakes of leaders. And once people realise it, they never forget it.

I had forgotten that Mahjoor once was a court poet. I always remembered him as a beloved poet. My beloved poet. But the other day a stamp released in his name again reminded me why Sheikh preferred Mahjoor over Abdul Ahad Azad.


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