By A.H. Cemendtaur
Photos by Sherman Chu
Eighteenth-century Dehlavi Urdu poet Meer Taqi Meer (Mir Taqi Mir) was remembered and his contribution to Urdu language was discussed at the India Community Center in Milpitas on September 7, in a program aptly dubbed Naqsh-e-Meer.
How was the program appropriately named? Hamida Banu Chopra, Bay Area Urdu teacher and chief organizer of the program, explained why Meer is called Khuda-e-sukhan by Urdu lovers. Meer is held in high esteem for the words and expressions he gave to the Urdu language. When Meer started writing poetry in Rekhta (nascent Urdu), very few wrote in that new language. He was the one who took expressions and similes from Farsi and either used them as such, or altered them to fit in his Urdu verses. For increasing the Urdu vocabulary considerably, and giving later poets and writers a bigger space to write in, Meer Taqi Meer is known as Khuda-e-Sukhan (God of literature/poetry) by Urdu connoisseurs. Today's Urdu is in fact Naqsh-e-Meer (Meer's footprint/stamp).
Besides Hamida Chopra, Suhail Farrukh, Jafar Shah, Sujata Roashan, Ravi Khurshid, Atiya Hai, Arshad Rashid, Saleem Malik, Ashraf Habibullah, and Dipti Bhatnagar read and sang Meer's poetry in the program attended by over one hundred people.
In all the readings, of special note was Ashraf Habibullah's tribute to Meer Taqi Meer. The moment Habibullah stepped on the stage, there was light, literally…because Habibullah came donned in a jacket studded with LEDs that blinked and spelled his name on the back. Meer must have tossed and turned violently in his grave learning his poetry was read in this fashion. Seeing Habibullah make people laugh off their chairs it was hard to believe Ashraf Habibullah heads an internationally renowned Berkeley firm that makes software for strength analysis of buildings and structures.
Listen to complete audio recording of Naqsh-e-Meer program here: