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A Dazzling AAANE Annual International Mushaira

Tahir Ali

Keeping up with its tradition of organizing Mushaira annually the Aligarh Alumni Association of New England (AAANE) celebrated the bicentennial anniversary of the birth of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan by inviting international and local poets.  Renowned poet Nisar Kazmi's son Basir Sultan Kazmi was invited from Manchester UK,  Rajesh Reddy and Aqeel Nomani from India and  Mohtarma Dr. Ambareen Haseeb Amber from Karachi, Pakistan - thus making up the International poet quorum. Whereas; Dr. Jamal Qadri, Hashmat Sohail, Mohtarma Kiran Nath and Iqbal Danish formed the local team. Under the Sidarat of Basir Kazmi and Nizamat of Amin Haider the Mushaira launched rather well that kept the audience fully engaged throughout the night. Dr. Noman Siddiqi, AAANE President in his welcome speech earlier had mentioned, "The legacy of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan is in our hands and we have to be stewards of his dream and vision." -  hence holding a Mushaira of this caliber was indeed a befitting tribute to Sir Syed Ahmad Khan.

By some estimate there appeared to be more ladies in the audience than men. Asma Mushtaque, Shanaz and Shahida Balaparya attributed the high ladies turn out to Dr. Ambereen Haseeb Amber. "Her poetry goes well with us."  Other ladies agreed, "Amber did say though that women will relate to the following couplets better.  And we do!"

 Zindagi bhar ek he kaar-e-hunr karte rahe
Ek Gharonda reth ka tha jisko Ghar karte rahe
Ab humne bhi diya Turk-e-tauluq ka jawab
HoNt khamosh rahe Ankh ne baarish nahi kee
Jaane quiun bhuje awwal-shab saare chiraag

AaNdhi ne bhi agarche koi saazish nahe kee

Shahid Ikram and Khalid Kazi argued that there was a lot of poetry for men. "There was really great depth in some of these poetry" for example Rajesh Reddy's following couplets:  

“Yuun dekhiye to aandhi mein bas ik shajar gaya - Lekin na jaane kitne parindoN ka ghar gaya”

“Main hi sabab tha ab ke bhi apni shikast ka - Ilzam ab ki baar bhi qismat ke sar gaya”                                              

“Jitni buTni thi buT chuki ye zamin - ab to bus asmaan baaqi hai”

“Sar qalam hunge kal yahan unke - Jin ke munh main zabaan baaqi hai”

And the one verse that struck close to home: 

“Mere dil ke kisi kone mein ik masoom sa baccha - baDon ki dekh kar duniya baDa hone se Darta hai”

Amin Haider while introducing Rajesh Reddy mentioned that "Rajesh was born in Nagpur, started his career as a Hindi journalist, but delivers Urdu as if it is his first language." He shared a few couplets from his ghazals that were well received:

Toward the end in the midst of resounding applause, he concluded“Hum zaroorat se bahut he kum pe raazi hogaye  -  Pyaas to darya ki thi shabnam pe raazi hogaye"

Basir Sultan Kazmi is not in any need of an introduction. Not because he is the son of the renowned and most acclaimed Urdu poet Nasir Kazmi, that indisputably remains a fact, but Basir Kazmi has managed to - as they say: 'carved  his own niche in the world of poetry'. He eloquently stressed that in one of his couplets: 

“Banani parti hai har shaks ko jagah apni,   Miley agarche bazahir bani banayee jagah"

Basir Kazmi took longer than one minute to recite his poem "Ek Minute" - but it was well worth the long 'one minute' wait judging from the audience response: A few couplets include:

hazar kahta raha main ki yar ek minute             kiyā na us ne mirā intizār ek minute

maiñ jāntā huuñ ki hai ye ḳhumār ek minute     idhar bhÄ« aa.Ä« thÄ« mauj-e-bahār ek minute

Basir Kazmi took a philosophic route when he mentioned a few one liners:

hote hain jo sab ke wo kisi ke nahin hote

hum jaise tegh-e-zulm se Dar bhi gae to kya · 

KHat mein kya kya likhun yaad aati hai har baat pe baat. 

Aqeel Nomani who hails from Bareli is one of the most familiar face at Mushaira events especially in Uttar Pardesh (UP). Rather soft spoken but his poetry has depth. Nomani's style is unique, he first gives a detailed explanation of the dominant word in his poetry, as an example he went on to define "Subakdosh" in his own way and amusingly likened it to Retirement:

Har ek Ranj-o-Ghum se Subakdosh Ho Ja       Usse Yaad kar Aur Madosh Ho Ja

Nazar  Uski Chahe to Nazar Jhukhale              Hai Kuch Kehna to Khamosh Ho Ja

Aqeel Nomani have said that everyone believes that a revolution is needed, but everyone waits for the other to make the first move.

Itni Asaani se Milta Nahi Zalim ka Khitaab     Usse Kahedo ke Zulm-o-Sitm aur kare

And in his usual UP style narration:

Sawaal Tha is Taraf Anna Ka          Waqar ka Masla Udhar Tha  Na dar pe Khana Khrab PoNche Na Ghar se AAli Janab Nik le

Danish Iqbal of Boston aea received great acknowledgement from the audience as he described the condition of Iraq and how its History crumbled in the wake of the unnecessary Iraq War:

“Bigri hoouai hai soorat-e-ahwaal dehkna

  Maazi ka aaj ho gya kya haal dekhna

Sab kuch chala gya hai zamane ke saath

 Danish na jai haat se, Iqbal dekhna”  

Mohtarma Kiran Nath of Greater Worcester area has a passion for ghazals. She has performed all over Massachusetts on several occasions. Besides Urdu mehfils she also is sought in Hindi mehfils and for her connections with the stage show: Hindi Manch. She sang in her melodious voice â€œAb Kya Kahoon Mere Meherbaan” - which never fails to mesmerize the audience. 

Her poetry was equally enchanting: 

 â€œPhir Aankh Jami Hai Raste par      Phir Aane ka Socha hai Tumne”.

Hashmat Sohail comes from Chicago, and in one of his own humorous poem he captured an incident in Chicago when a Mushaira was organized under a tent by an organizer oblivious of the powerful Chicago winds. When the Chicago winds took over during the event, the tent uprooted, the rains poured in, the guests groped their way in the dark and the food dishes tossed around and got mixed and what he ate and praised as Alloo Chaat turned out to be actually Rus Malahi. Hashmat had the audience laughing in stitches. Through his poetry and style he told the story of a beggar. Who normally would collect hardly enough money begging all in front of Masajids and Churches day singing the usual familiar chant "dede Allah ke naam". As always he collected more loose change that did not amount to much. One day per chance he begged in front of a Casino. Those coming out winning were not hesitant to give him a few more money than he expected, until a jackpot winner came out and took a handful of currency notes from his pockets and put in the beggar's Qaasa thus overfilling it: 

Ke Paisa Mile Fakir ek dum se is qadr
Bola Aasman ki Janib utha ke Sir
Tu bhi hai Khoob aye mere Razaake do Jahan

Deta Patha Kahan ke Rahta hai tu Kahan

The event carried on after the break - and the audience remained enthralled. Hasan Chowdhury AAANE President-elect thanked AAANE members for giving him this opportunity to serve AAANE, "we are honored, and with great humility we accept the responsibility of running AAANE’s affair for next two years." 

Many comments were of the nature:  "Overall Mushaira was a success and after quite a few years we could listen most of the poets twice."  The mushaira ended around midnight.  Habib, a regular fan was hoping that these events would start on time, but nevertheless he enjoyed the entire evening. 

Khalid Kazi seen in photo with Basir Kazmi  was not only enjoying the event but also was entertaining with his own witty and humorous anecdotes and those sitting within the earshot were doubly entertained. As the event came to a close after midnight it appeared that the poets were still ready to offer more and the audience was still thirsty for more, putting life into the following Dr. Ambereen Ambers' couplet:

Mang Rahe Ho Rukhsat Mujh Se Aur Khud Hi,

Hath Mein Hath Liye Bethe Ho Tum Bhi Na....

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