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The poet of pathos

By November 24, 2017No Comments

Is it the voice or the verses, the pain or the grace — it’s hard to say what makes a ‘shayara’ an enigma.

urdu poet

She wears saris whose long pallu trails like a queen’s cape. Her deeply intoxicating voice seems to come from the very core of her heart.

But then, for Urdu poet Rashida Baqui a poem is the very distillation of ‘mehsoos’ (feeling). While she hasn’t ever really analysed her verses, she thinks her shayari (poetry) comes from dard (pain) and mayoosi (disappointment).

Chatting over filter coffee in a Connaught Place cafe, Ms Baqui admits her poetry has been greatly shaped by the events of her life. “I was married very young and within a year… it broke my heart… and yet, I couldn’t envisage….”.

Ms Baqui’s father was a journalist and her mother was a poet.


“My ammi, Shahida Baqui Nikhat, was among the first women poets to read her poetry in mushairas.”

Ms Baqui shares a ghazal with us (reproduced in translation).

A ghazal

You would remember the time that has gone past, dearest

Think of the world and its ways and only then meet me, dearest

If it were not for the writings of time past on my face it would have been difficult to hide your sorrow, dearest

Perchance when I passed by that way I was reminded of your company, dearest

The tale of my sorrows that I have associated with my circumstances, read it dearest

The tears that fall on you and turn into jewels, hide them from the world, dearest

The lamps of memory are lit on eyelashes as your abode is still in my moist eyes, dearest

Like fireflies in the wasteland they burn bright in the night of separation, dearest


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