The enigma of Saeed Ahmed in the long poem Ekiswain Chand ki Raat
The modern world is experiencing chaos, loss of identity, the disappearance of social, religious and cultural values of the West during World War II, 1945. The future of all of Europe and of the West was in the limelight. crossroads when the question of human civilization arose in political, social and literary circles. As they say, literature is the reflection of society. Literature after these horrific events in human history has turned its page when it comes to themes and forms in all its genres. In poetry, the famous poets are Aldingon, FS Flint, TS Eliot and Ezra Pound who not only moved from themes of literature but also from the form of poetry – a shift from blank verse to free verse.
In Urdu literature, the post-war effects were also felt by writers, social thinkers and poets. In the modern poetry of Urdu literature, the already established themes were replaced by the new ones which were loneliness, loss of identity, the hegemony of capitalism over human values while putting a question mark on the civilization of the human being. Nazar Muhammad Rashid, Meera Jee, Majeed Amjad and Aftab Iqbal Shamim are notable modern poets who have highlighted post-war themes in their free verse poetry.
In the 21st century, free verse poetry (Azaad Nazm) continued and flourished in Rawalpindi and Islamabad. These twin cities are called the Cities of Modern Poetry in Urdu literature. The famous poets are Daoud Rizwan, Anwar Fitrat and Syed Kashif Raza among Saeed Ahmed.
Saeed Ahmed introduced himself as a poet from an early age. His first book of poetry – ‘Be Aab ainon ky shehr main’ appeared on the poetic scene of Urdu literature in 1993 and was highly regarded in literary circles. The very first book was based on the Ghazals. Later he turned his potential to Azaad Nazm, perhaps his thoughts could only be expressed in Azaam Nazam and not in Ghazal. So, “Din k Neelaab ka Khaab” – the collection of poems appeared on the literary scene and gained fame throughout the country.
Almost after a decade, another notable poetic work “Ekiswain Chand ki Raat”, which is a long narrative poem, was added to his literary career. Saeed Ahmed is a very sophisticated and delicate poet. Among his contemporaries, he is considered the most complicated poet due to his poetic techniques and his treatment of the poem. He is a difficult poet to understand, especially for a conventional reader.
By using an abstract poetic discourse, he generates ambiguity and uncertainty in the context. Full pictures and symbolic words make the poem difficult to decipher. Saeed uses hyperbolic language, repeated phrases and sung rhythms to paint impressive images. The structure of this long poem has been woven by devices such as alliteration, repetition, stressed and unstressed syllable pattern, the use of semi-rhymes and para-rhymes in the lines. The lines of different lengths, its arrangement in an unconventional way testify to the great know-how of the poet.
Even the sparse lines and uneven non-standard rhythmic structure; there is a balance between the songs. The sentences are linked together by alliteration. The sensible and controlled use of assonance produces internal rhyme and rhythm. The poetic devices used by Ahmed make the poem compressed and composed. The tone of the poem is sad, somber with abrupt speeches which translate into illusion after illusion and the reader experiences mirages.
The title of the long poem is “Ekiswain Chand ki Raat” (The moon of the twenty-first night) which has been bracketed by the phrase “Dialogue in the Inn of Timelessness” indicates the dark night of the 21st century and unnecessary dialogue in a space where no time exists. This title helps us to guess the state of mind of the poem, the main concern of the poet is “the word and the time”, which have lost their value?
Society in the new century is facing internal turmoil and this is the ultimate result of ignorance.
It seems like an ambitious attempt to understand the loss of a rich civilization. Although it is quite difficult to relate the text of the poem to a specific region or society, the echo of the lines indicates a subcontinent. Saeed Ahmed’s parents emigrated from India and witnessed many tragic scenes during the migration. Moreover, the consequences of this human catastrophe continue and the poem contains the historical truths in addition to the current dilemma. It puts a question mark on the path to idealism.
The poem explores themes of trauma and expresses distaste for the period after being liberated from colonial rule.
This illusion is not only present in the organs of society but also felt in the processing of the poem. It is evident that in fabricating the verses the poet consulted the Old Testament especially in the context of the biblical allusion and living imagery. The most powerful symbols used in the poem are the nocturnal cave, the dream and the blood, etc. The night represents cruelty, fear while the cave is a mark of backwardness, security and meditation / loneliness and a dream intended for fatigue, ignorance etc. This kind of diction highlights the degradation of values, norms and culture. This long poem is a sort of epic tale, filled with ambiguity and chaos. There is an invisible battlefield and an ongoing war where one force is known and the second is invisible, it can be Angle or Satan. The diction of this modern epic is not easy, which is why some characters are covered with a veil. The reader can observe the world aimlessly between the lines. The rereading explores the multiplicity of senses. Saeed Ahmed attempted to shatter supernatural belief and invited man to reinvent a new way of believing based on reality. The poem disavows society where “life” accuses “speech”. The poet likes to play with letters, words and languages in an artistic way. He cleverly uses allegory to highlight religious flows and political upheaval. This long poem is a “short cry” stifled by someone. The image of the present is closely linked to the past and it seems that the future is also in a state of confusion. The use of weapons like the stun cutting bomb, etc. makes the next day ambiguous: uncertainty about the next generation portrays vitality, apathy and hopelessness. Saeed Ahmed created an abstract poetic discourse, and by this he used the words in multiple senses. The profession and the simultaneity of meaning are evident from its mastery. As a modern poet, his audience is humanity, he breaks linguistic and literary boundaries. Without a doubt, it places free Urdu verse in the lineage of English and other international languages. The legacy of NM Rashid, Meera jee who carried by… .. Aftab Iqbal Shamim etc. is still in progress and has turned out to be a nice addition in Urdu free verse. He, as a poet, denied oppression, segregation and discrimination. His poetry rebels against the current scenario. It generates destructive impulses, where there is no hope, i.e. look at the last lines:
Saeed Ahmed articulately paints the picture of a dilapidated and withered culture. Materialism is the cause that made the world a parched earth. The poem draws on a dizzying array of literary allusions to reflect the futility of the modern era.
Dr Fareed Hussainee