Excuse me! Who is Ahmad Faraz?

Surprised and shocking to know the answer of teenagers’ group in response to my question about laureate Faraz.

“This is the name appeared in funny SMSes I receive almost every other day,” said Nida Shakir, one of the students among the group. “I don’t know who is he actually.”

Rest of the students also answered more or less the same which irked me a lot. But if you ask other guys the same query, it is expected that some of them will definitely refer you the SMS’ man.

Faraz speaks on every occasion in SMSes whether on Shaoib-Sania wedding or on Kerry-Lugar Bill.  He is very famous in text messages. Excuse me! He is one of the best poets of Pakistan recognized internationally.

The attitude of making fun of the literary figure is ridiculous, shameful and not acceptable. Why do we treat serious issues in such a non-serious ways? Particularly our youngsters are becoming habitual of playing down every respectable national personality without regarding their contributions for the nation.

Very few people actually know that Faraz is ‘takhallus’, of Syed Ahmad Shah who is considered one of the greatest modern Urdu poets of the present times and most often compared with Faiz Ahmad Faiz, from his simple style of writing and revolutionary thoughts.

Even a big segment of society is not well aware of the contributions he made to literature, which brought him from darkness to monumental fame. He has won several international accolades in the field of literature. He was also awarded Hilal-e-Imtiaz, Dr Muhammad Iqbal and Sitara-e-Hilal for his service to Urdu literature and the promotion of Urdu language.

He has a great proponent of freedom of expression and gave voice to common man through his poetry. He returned the award, Hilale-Imtiaz in 2006 after becoming disenchanted with the government and its policies.

Faraz is a source of inspiration to many young people who want to bring a change in the society. He was born in a poor family, where it was difficult for his father to even buy clothes for him.

In an interview, he recalls how his father, once bought clothes for him on Eid. He didn’t like the clothes, but preferred the ones meant for his elder brother. This led him to write his first couplet:

Layen hain sab ke liye kapre sale se (He brought clothes for everybody from the sale)
Layen hain hamare liye kambal jail se (For me he brought a blanket from jail)

Although he used Urdu tremendously in poetry, his mother language was Pashto. He studied Persian and Urdu at Peshawar University and later became a lecturer at the same university.

Faraz composed many books of poetry on social and political issues and life of common man. He created lively verses, which reflect his struggle of social change and active role in politics.

How many people achieve such milestones in our country in this particular field of literature? So should he be honored or made fun of. How can people who compose cheap poetry in the name of Faraz do so?

A good national always pays tribute to literary personalities and feels very much proud of them. Being a revolutionary poet, he must have certain ideologies and people with contrasting ideologies may not like his thoughts. But no one could undermine the quality of work he produced in Urdu literature.

It is sad to know though, how a national icon is being degraded in through funny text messages. Not only me, but lots of people receive stupid text messages attributed to Faraz. The SMSs are attributed to him in such a way as if he composed them himself. I have also come across booklets on funny SMSes with a section of chapters titled with Faraz. There are so many Urdu websites which have stupid SMSes attributed to Faraz in the form of jokes.

If we continue to turn down these personalities then who would be willing to contribute to the nation in future? Merely making fun of heroes just for laughing stock is not the way of civilized people. Rather, these iconic celebtrities deserve rich tribute and should be followed as a role models.

I know people vent their anger by spreading jokes through SMS particularly on political figures in order to criticize the leader’s inabilities.

But, here we have a difference. Faraz was not like our dishonest leaders. He must have done tremendous job for the nation, that is why he was recognized with several awards. The youngsters should read his work and promote his original poetry in text messages, which have lively thoughts to embolden masses against the atrocities of the oppressed rulers.

The great national poet has passed away two years back on August 25 but he is still alive and will be remembered by millions of fans and students of literature all over the world. On the occasion of his second death anniversary when the country is facing critical situation, his poetry is ray of hope for us.

Dreams Do Not Die
Dreams are not heart, nor eyes or breath
Which shattered, will scatter (or)
Die with the death of the body.
Dreams do not die.
But dreams are light, voice, wind,
Which cannot be stopped by mountains black,
Which do not perish in the hells of cruelty,
Ensigns of light and voice and wind,
Bow not, even in abattoirs.
But dreams are letters,
But dreams are illumination,
Dreams are Socrates,
Dreams – Divine Victory!’