Fahmida Riaz’s departing present opens up ‘A World of Possibilities’

Published: July 28, 2019
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According to her sister, Najma Manzoor, she left us with her last unpublished poem Daftar-e-Imkaan (A World of Possibility). PHOTO: PUBLICITY

Today marks the 73rd birthday of Pakistan’s arch-feminist poetess and activist Fahmida Riaz, who left us rather too soon last November.

But even during her last days, she gave us two remarkable books as departing presents: Tum Kabeer, her last collection of poetry; and a novella titled Qila-e-Faramoshi, a fictional rendition of the life and times of the first-ever socialist Mazdak, the scourge of Zoroastrian Persia.

According to her sister, Najma Manzoor, she also left us with her last unpublished poem Daftar-e-Imkaan (A World of Possibility). This was written during her bed-ridden days in Karachi, just days before she moved to her daughter’s house in Lahore in 2018, on her final journey to literary immortality. This beautiful poem is an ode to the relationship between the Creator and His creation, and is indispensable to understand Fahmida’s work. An English translation of the poem is presented below for the first time.

The room in which I do reside

A window this room does provide

Should I wake up in the night

I turn to keep it within my sight

Then I see as clear as light

The moon in the window shining bright

I smile slowly

And I feel

As if the moon too smiled

Then with my eyes filed

I sleep gradually

Then I come across a thought

Alone in this world I am not

This universe and these stars

The vistas of the moon and sun

Car sounds with all their might

Unknown wings in flight

These are made from the same jewel

Which is mine and yours too

Belongs to this too and that

Alone in this world I am not.

Raza Naeem

Raza Naeem

The author is a Pakistani social scientist, book critic and translator. His translations of Saadat Hasan Manto have been re-translated in both Bengali and Tamil, and he received a prestigious Charles Wallace Trust Fellowship in 2014-2015 for his translation and interpretive work on Manto. He is presently working on a book of translations of Manto's progressive writings, tentatively titled Comrade Manto.

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