Pakistan told by poets
By Sumaira Jajja
KARACHI: For a country known more for its terror attacks and poverty, Pakistan is in the news for all the wrong reasons. However, Hidayat Hussain has tried to do his bit to dispel this image with his first book ‘Ce soir oppressant n’en finit pas de finir Â– Le Pakistan racontÃ© par ses poÃ¨tes’ (Tonight’s oppressive no end to end – Pakistan told by the poets).
A compilation of translated works, the book was launched at the Alliance FranÃ§aise de Karachi (AFK) on Monday evening.
With the picture of the rock spire Ladyfinger Peak (Babulimating Peak) gracing its cover, the book is a compilation of over 57 poems written by prominent Urdu and Sindhi poets and sums up life in Pakistan.
Talking about his book, Mr Hussain said, “Everyday you see news on TV and in the papers about death and destruction. But what the world fails to see is that people here have the same hopes and dreams and aspirations as people anywhere else in the world. What people don’t get to see is the distinct socio-political mix that we have here. I have made an effort to bring to fore the works of those poets who are well aware of society, politics and the sufferings of the people.”
Born in 1948 in Hyderabad, Mr Hussain was an active member of the students’ movement in Pakistan in the 1960s and ‘70s.
With a degree in sociology from the University of Paris, he went on to teach French at the AFK and later moved to the French Economic Department in Karachi, where he is currently responsible for education.
The idea of translating the works of poetic greats came to him when he translated Ahmed Faraz’s poem. After receiving a good response, he felt more confident and took the decision to work on a compilation.
The late Parveen Shakir, Zeeshan Sahil and Sultana Waqasi are some of the poets whose works have been translated into French by Mr Hussain. The criterion for the selection of the poems is their relevance to the socio-political situation in Pakistan.
“I am not a poet. It’s an amateur effort and I have tried my best to do justice to the works,” he said.
“With this book, I have tried to capture the hopes, anger and disappointment of the Pakistani people through the work of poets who knew how best to interpret them.
“It also is a reflection of a society that has been suffering for long due to the violence and strife in the region. Despite having a rich cultural heritage and diversity in terms of people and places, we are somehow stuck with the image of a ‘violent nation’. I am trying to dispel this image,” he said.
Talking about the book, Daniel Baillon, director of the AFK, said, “People in France don’t know much about Pakistan, let alone its poets. It’s a nice effort on Hussain’s part to introduce the works of Pakistani poets to a larger audience out there.”
In a similar vein, Christian Ramage, consul general of France in Karachi, said, “Pakistan is a diverse country and this book will help us better understand this nation.”