Saturday 2 March 2019

Majaz: Kuchh mujhe bhi kharab hona tha

When the pendulum of experience stretches so far as to sway on the extremities of emotions, it is then that a writer is born. Amidst the turbulent struggle for Indian independence, literature seemingly ceased the opportunity to rage a revolution of words which would encapsulate the mutual sentiment of millions. The late nineteenth and early twentieth century witnessed a particular bloom of revolutionary writings and a major spot among it is captured by the nazms, ghazals, and the satirical sher-0-shairi that the poets of Urdu literature weaved during the period. A great many names resurface when we leaf through the pages of history and Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Makhdoom, Jazbi, Ali Sardar Jafri, Fani Badayuni, Majaz Lakhnawi, etc. are to name only a few.
Majaz Lakhnawi was born as Asrar ul Haq Majaz (19 October, 1911) in Rudauli, Faizabad, in the state of Uttar Pradesh, India. He received his early education in Lucknow, and at St. John’s college, Agra; but it was Aligarh Muslim University which earned Majaz his bachelor’s degree. Regarded as the ‘Keats’ of Urdu poetry, Majaz began composing his verses while in Aligarh. He is credited for composing the “Nazr-e-Aligarh” or tarana (anthem) for Aligarh Muslim University-
‘Ye mera chaman, hai mera chaman,
Main apne chaman ka bulbul hun’
Post his graduation from Aligarh Muslim University, Majaz was offered a position as an assistant editor of Aawaz, the newly-established journal of the All India Radio. This shift from Aligarh to Delhi was a major change in the life of our poet. Aligarh gave Majaz an identity and space to grow and produce his work. He was in a place that gave him utmost respect and the young minds of universities relied upon him to voice their heart. This transference was a new path on which Majaz had to tread. His elegance of writing Urdu poetry became apparent when he befriended two poets, Fani Baduyani (whom he considered his mentor), and Jazbi.
A poet with an exemplary imagination, Majaz was dragged to realistic and revolutionary writing by the epoch he lived in. While reading Majaz, one can easily trace the balance that he strived to maintain between imagination and realism. A young poet of his time, he struck the chords of romance and revolution alike in the hearts of youth. The years in which he lived and wrote were pulsating with the spirit of nationalism. Apparent changes were witnessed in various spheres- political, social, as well as literary. The need of the hour demanded revolution and poets like Majaz and his contemporaries diverted their ink towards this rebellion. It was during this time that Majaz was magnetized towards the Taraqqi Pasand Tahreek (Progressive Writers’ Movement) and started blending his imagination with a touch of progression to fabricate works that are still irreplaceable.
‘Tere mathe pe ye anchal to bahut hi khub hai lekin
Tu is anchal se ik parcham bana leti to acha hota’
An astonishing feature that distinguished Majaz from his contemporaries was his striking memory. Certain chronicles based on his life claim that Majaz rarely inscribed his lines down. He was known for modifying his verses as and when he wished. Some famous works like Aahang faced this issue of alteration which was mostly carried out by Majaz himself, but at times by the publishers or composers. Thus, with this three-fold amendment, various editions of Aahang were published, each distinct from one another. This was a major criticism faced by the poet but this criticism again, rebounded in his favour to popularize him exponentially. At such a young age, Majaz was desired by publishers all over.
Majaz, whose popularity was at its zenith, could not escape the pangs of love and eventually lost his heart to a married woman in Delhi who happened to be his admirer. This love was unrequited and drew him into a hopelessness which he was unable to evade. The chaos which shrouded his love was unveiled through the couplets that ring of passion. There was a shadow of despair which flickered in his work. He wrote extensively about beauty, longing, love, and romance during this phase of his life. One of his most famous nazms written during this time was titled- “Husn ko be-hijaab hona tha”; a couplet of which still resonates within the hearts of lovers-

“Kuchh tumhari nigah kafir thi
Kuchh mujhe bhi kharab hona tha”

When critics think of Majaz in relation to his peers, they fall upon the conclusion that his poetic style was distinct and adorned with simplicity. He could be considered an old soul in terms of his usage of rhymes and meters in poetry, like the poets of older generation. His minimal experimentation places his poetry as melodious and effortless. While his contemporaries engaged in varying degrees of experiments with their work, (Faiz deployed classical metaphors to derive a sense of revolution, Firaq brought themes from Sanskrit poetry to Urdu, Noon Meem Rashed wrote about the mental anguish of colonized people, etc.), Majaz embraced his art of subtle, delicate themes; endowing us with some graceful works. He rained emotions in various tones to drench his readers with a multiplicity of feelings. His artistry and an effortless style had the power to envelope emotional states of mind which words usually fail to illustrate. A melancholy and poignancy which he inscribed through his ink produced his distinctive work, Aahang. This was his first diwan, dedicated to Faiz and Jazbi whom he calls his “dil-o-jigar”, and to Sardar Jafri and Makhdoom, who are “mere dast-o-bazu”.

Majaz’s unique style embodies the ease with which he swings between the echoes of nationalism and the subliminal desires of a lover. This fusion is astounding and reflects in the works of Majaz which includes- Aawara, Aahang, Shab-e-taab, Saaz-e-Nau, etc. Though Majaz reached the acme of his career at a young age, he suffered anxious breakdowns. Alcoholism ate him up from within, eventually leading to his end. Majaz died at a young age of 44 years in the winter of 1955 and left behind him mysteries and a pile of unanswered questions. But his mastery over emotions and an amalgamation of romance and revolution placed him on a pedestal which is unforgettable. In his relatively brief poetic career, he composed poems that still reverberate in the Urdu literary sphere.
-    Nawa Fatima                                 
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