Remembering Ahmad Faraz: Do not murder the voices
The 87th birthday of one of Pakistan’s most beloved poet – who was also a resistance poet par excellence – the legendary Ahmad Faraz, was celebrated on January 12th. The honour of both the Pakhtuns and Urdu-speaking community, I was lucky to hear him recite his famous poem ‘Muhaasra’ (siege) in one of his last public appearances in Karachi back in 2008. He joined the immortals soon afterwards on August 25, 2008.
To pay tribute to his memory, here I am sharing my translation of one of my favourite Faraz poems, “Mat Qatl Karo Aavaazon Ko” (do not murder the voices), which it seems was written for our own violent and intolerant times, especially in Pakistan and India. I first translated and shared it by way of an angry response to the brutal murder of the famous qawwal, Amjad Sabri on June 22, 2016, but feel that it is relevant in today’s times too.
You keep sinking the spears of your faiths
Into every heart
We are people of love
Why do you wave your daggers?
Let the songs flow in this city
Let us too remain in this settlement
We are the protectors of flowers
We are the keepers of (their) fragrance
Whose blood have you come to drink?
We are the teachers of love
What will you ever see again in this city
When the word will die here
When the melody will be severed upon the sword
When the verse will migrate
When the tune and the instruments will be murdered
When there will be a famine of voices
When the cities will become ruins
Upon whom will you cast the stone?
When you will see your face in the mirror
You will be afraid.
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