Baba Najmi’s poetry calls for change
By Jonaid Iqbal
ISLAMABAD: A large number of admirers and political workers turned up to hear Punjabi poet Baba Najmi recite his revolutionary poetry at the National Press Club here on Wednesday. Clad in a black garb with a contrasting shoulder length crop of silver hair, the Baba on his first visit to the capital presented the image of a sage.
Baba Najmi lives and works as an artisan in Karachi but his fame as a poet who wants to bring about change in the present unjust society to create an equitable world free of class distinction and exploitation is not confined to that city. He is admired by people throughout the country.
His fiery verse regaled the audience for well over an hour as he read poem after poem including the famous lines: “Yours and my father and mother are the same; we were born at the same place; why then I have become your servant?”
In addition to reading his Punjabi poetry and ghazals he also attacked the rulers for shortage of basic items like atta, sugar, electricity and called it the worst injustice and tyranny.
He also read a poem on the hoor (houri) promised to pious men as a reward in the after life. He told about a rich lady asking her pretty maid why she was in tatters when she possessed such beauty.
The maid replies that her husband loves her for her natural good looks that needed neither costumes nor cosmetics. When Gen Musharraf toppled the government in 1999, he asked him in a poem to return the key of the house to the owner after the promised cleaning.
Earlier, Baba Najmi was given a standing ovation by the workers of the Awami Party Pakistan. Among them Harris Khaleeque recalled the occasion when he had met the Baba for the first time in the company of his late father. Harris said a poet conveys the sense of change and Baba Najmi’s was the voice of the wretched of the earth.
He added that the late poet Habib Jalib had written the preface of Najmi’s first poetical collection.
He belonged to the class of Sufi poets in the league of Baba Bulleh Shah and Shah Hussain who also spoke for a place under the sun for the poor of the land.
Mian Aftab Ahmad Kamzaat said he met the revolutionary poet some 20 years ago and heard him recite his powerful Punjabi verses. “No poet has written so openly against injustices as Baba Najmi,” he said.
Journalist Ahmad Lateef praised Baba Najmi for giving him the courage to write in Punjabi while living in Karachi. “It is due to Baba that I can now speak and write in my mother tongue.”
Ayub Malik, who edits a progressive monthly, Badalti Dunya, and organised the literary event, said Baba Najmi is a communicator par excellence of the class struggle. “A good poet is one who is also a good human being, and the Baba is the supreme example of this class of humanity,” Mr Malik said.
Hasan Nasir summed up the essence of the Baba’s poetry in the verses Raat ke maathe par azurda sitaron ka hujoom/Sirf Khursheed darakshan ke nikalne tak hai.
Among the speakers was Abdul Sattar, an APP candidate in the forthcoming Rawalpindi by- elections.