Tashie Zaheer’s DiwanShaam Kii Aahat inaugurated
By Abdus Sattar Ghazali
Urdu Foundation presents a plaque to Tashie Zaheer
(Lto R): Ahmar Shehwaar, Zamin Jaafri, Ashfaq Hussain, Sarfraz Abd & Tashie Zaheer
Speakers at the inauguration
North America ’s prominent poet Tashie Zaheer’s diwan – Shaam Kii Aahat (Coming of the Evening) – was inaugurated recently at a grand literary event sponsored by the Urdu Foundation of North America. The event was held at the ornate Chandni Restaurant in Newark, CA.
Canada-based Ashfaq Hussain, a leading modern Urdu poet and author of more than 10 books of poetry and literary criticism, read a maqala on Tashie Zaheer’s diwan. He observed, “It is necessary that the work of a Diaspora poet/writer should be analyzed and critically evaluated in his/her native home.”
Tashie Zaheer’s poetry meets this criteria as his diwan has been critically evaluated in Pakistan. Just one example: Literary quarterly magazine, AL ZUBAIR, published by the Urdu Academy Bhawalpur, published a comment about Tashie’s diwan. Dr. Shahid Hussain Rizvi describes the anthology as an expression of pain of departure and separation from the native land. “It is now about 30 years that Tashie left his native land and the pain of separation is deeply reflected in many of his poems. He is unable to suppress this feeling of separation.”
Ek Din Aakhir Kaar Samajhna PaRhta Hay
Des Ke Jaisa Bhes Badalna PaRhta Hay
SadyouN Se Qaanoon Raha Hay Qudrat Ka
KhushyouN Kaa Taawaan To Bharna PaRhta Hay
In the preface of his Diwan, Tashie Zaher writes about this agony of separation:
“Migration is not an easy decision whether it is because of economic reasons or simply to escape from some emotional situation. Love for the soil of motherland is natural and unconditional. My body and soul have the fragrance of my native soil. An adopted homeland remains alien despite all the amenities, glamour and luxuries. One has this feeling soon after migration and it remains with him for a long time.”
In the following verses he expresses this nostalgic feeling:
Des Kii Mitti ChhoRh Ke Jo Pardes Ko Jaatey HeN
LoT Ke ik din Aakhir Apne Ghar Jaate HeN Log
Har Dam YouN To ToofanoN Se sar Takraate HeN
Aur Kabhii Chhotee si Baat se Dar Jaate HeN Log
Ashfaq Hussain said that there is a misconception that the poets/writers, enjoying a prosperous life in the adopted homeland, do not have the understanding and perception of the problems of their native country. However, this is not true: Tashie Zaheer is enjoying a comfortable prosperous life in America, but like any other Diaspora poet/writer, he is nostalgic about his native motherland:
Khud Hee Rehti Thee usey Nit Na’e Mosam Ki Talash
Mosham-e-Hijr Milaa Hai To TaRapta KyoN hay
Diaspora Mythology: Like Tashie Zaheer, this thread of conflicted nostalgia is strongest in North America's most Diaspora poets and writers. In fact, in the last half-a-century nostalgia – which is a combination of "returning home" and "ache" – has taken on a different texture.
To borrow Benzi Zhang, the author of The Politics of Re-homing, the transfer of peoples and cultures from all over the world to America and Canada has generated an intricate trans-nationality and cultural globality, which are based upon the tension of discontinuity and overlaps of different cultures.
Benzi Zhang argues: In a sense, Asian Diaspora poetry represents a paradoxical feeling of both homesickness and home-crisis, for the movement between multiple locations of cultures suggests a co-belonging dialogue which, by situating diasporas simultaneously inside and outside of a culture, intensifies both the desirability and the impossibility of a given home-place.
Rey Chow, the Hong Kong born author of Writing Diaspora is of the view that a direct result of this race for speed that dominates life across the globe is the emergence of the migrant -- the involuntary passenger-in-transit between cultures, for whom homelessness is the only home "state."
California University History Professor James Clifford encapsulates the dilemma of the Diaspora in the following words: “The empowering paradox of Diaspora is that dwelling here assumes solidarity and connection there. But there is not necessarily a single place or an exclusivist nation.”
For Julia Kristeva, author of Strangers to Ourselves, a Diasporan’s “origin certainly haunts him, for better or for worse, but it is indeed elsewhere that he has set his hopes, that his struggles take place, that his life holds together today."
In brief, Diaspora mythology - homeland, ancient past, returning-back syndrome – is not likely to disappear overnight. Tashie Zaheer’s poetry provides ample examples:
Jis Mitti Kii Kokh Se Tum ne Janam Liya
Us Kii Khushboo Apne Jism-o-Jaan MeN Rakhna
Kab Tak Unse Saya Milta Akhir PeRh Paraye Thay
Upne Ghar Ke AaNgan MeN Ham PeRh Lagana Bhool Gaye
Umr Guzari Ham Nay Tashie Aag Bujhate AurouN Kii
Apne Ghar ko Aag Lagii Too Aag Bhujhana Bhool Gaye
Petro-dollar poets/writers: Ashfaq Hussain, in his comprehensive literary analysis highlighted another interesting dilemma of Diaspora poets and writers. He said literary evenings are held in our honor when we visit our native lands. However when such evenings are over, people say that they are Petrodollar poets/writers because they have money to publish their books. In certain cases it may be true but this sweeping observation is not always correct.
He said that the literary work of a poet like Tashie Zaheer belies the claim of such people. He pointed out that North America now hosts a large number of Urdu writers and poets who deserve recognition and appreciation due to their excellence in literary work.
Sarfraz Abad: Prominent poet from Texas, Sarfraz Abad also spoke about Tashie Zaheer’s diwan. He said that poetry is the name of one’s sentiments and sensitivities as a poet stuffs words with thoughts that create changes in the mood of the listener. “In my view poetry should be so penetrating that it immediately invokes a feeling of joy or an emotion of love or a sentiment of hate in the listener.”
In the same way, John Keats believed that poetry should strike the reader as a wording of his own highest thoughts. And for Khalil Gibran, poetry is a deal of joy and pain and wonder, with a dash of the dictionary. Likewise, Nobel Laureate Italian author Salvatore Quasimodo says that poetry is the revelation of a feeling that the poet believes to be interior and personal which the reader recognizes as his own.
Sarfraz Abad finds these feelings, sentiments and thoughts in Tashie Zaheer’s book, Shaam Kii Aahat which is his first diwan containing his poetic work of over 30 years.
Manzil Kii Aarzoo hi Rahii Hamko Umr Bhar
Raste Badal Gaye Kabhii Rehbar Badal Gaye
Badlii NahiN Hay Apne Muzalim Kii DaastaaN
Mujrim Ham Hii Rahey HeiN Sitam Gar Badal Gaye
Fyyazuddin Sahib, another prominent poet from Arizona, says that a poet is a dream weaver who uses words as paint brush to capture his inner feelings and portraying them on the canvass of verses. Tashie Zaheer has command to convert thoughts into words that touch the feelings of the reader or listener:
Tamaam Umr Rahey Us Kii Khoj MeN Tashie
NihaaN Tha Dil MeiN Jo Naakaam HasratouN Kii Tarha
It is said that a poet's autobiography is his poetry. This is true of Tashie Zaheer’s poetry anthology which encompasses his poetry of more than 30 years. Shaam Ki Aahat is prefaced by well-known writers and poets such as Dr. Farmaan Fatehpuri, Iftikhar Arif, Dr. Wazir Agha, Dr. Anwar Sadid, Dr. Aasi Karnali, Azhar Javed, Fayyaz Tehsin, Noshi Gilani, Fayyaz Uddin Saieb and Nagesh Advadhany..
Chinese philosopher Tao Tzu says that knowing others is wisdom, knowing yourself is enlightenment. Self-awareness is the first step in the creation process. Noshi Gilani says that Tashie Zaher is not only a sensitive poet but is endowed with the gift of a deep sense of self-awareness.
Tashie Zaheer was born in Lahore in December 1947. His grandfather Sabir Dehlvi, a cotemporary of Jigar Muradabadi and Josh Malih Abadi, was a well-known poet. Tashie’s elder brother, Professor Anwar Anjum, was also a celebrated young poet who left this temporal abode at the age of 25. Migrating to the US in 1976, Tashie earned BBA and MBA degrees and served in Wells Fargo Bank and Citibank in management executive positions. He resigned in 2000 while working in Citibank as EVP and began his own enterprise as Business and Real Estate Group.