Forget them not!

Greater Kashmir

Hakim Manzoor remembered

Hakim Manzoor was one among very few Urdu poets of this State who had a deep sense of all that was happening around him. The happenings would infuse the sentiments of reaction in his thought and mind, rather very immediately and he would lose no time to give catchy expression to his emotions as a sensitive writer in most appealing and  attractive pieces of his Urdu as well as Kashmiri poetic creations.
 Manzoor’s last publication is a 103-page collection of his Urdu quatrains or rubayees titled Chahaar Zarb which he had composed in one of its recognised meters derived form Arabic as La hawla walla quwwata illa billa.
 This publication has now been brought out nearly three years after his demise. Well, about the genre of poetry , its two species ghazal and rubayee are the most difficult ones to be turned into an impressive medium of communication with the deliverance of the poets’ inner feelings and emotions into the mind and thought of the reader. Ghazal needs to have one full subject or episode completed in only two stanzas whereas the rubayee also demands completion of an experience to be put out in four stanzas of a very small length.
  Rubayee has been a favourite subject for the matchless poetic world of Persian language. Among those Persian poets who introduced quatrain in their language included Ba Yazid Bastami (d. 848 AD), Roudki (d. 940 AD), Abu Nasar Farabi (d.950 AD), Abu Sayed Abul Khair and Bu Ali Sena (d.1036 AD). They were followed by Bab Tahir Hamadani (d. 1055AD), Ali bin Hassan Bakharzi (d. 1074 ), Imam Ghazali (d.1111AD) and of course it reached its zenith of perfection and popularity during the era of Sadi, Hafiz and Omar Khayyam. All of them disseminated the ideals of mysticism, love, philosophy and sweet aspects the nobility and dignity of human life.
 In Kashmiri language though some of the poets tried at retaining its original meter like Hakim Manzoor and Farid Parbati but they could not produce any outstanding literature while adhering to this rather tough and uneven meter. Mir Ghulam Rasool Nazki, therefore, chose for himself a different meter more akin and acceptable to the Kashmiri reader with the result that after Nazki no one either in Urdu or in Kashmiri could contribute such a fabulous literature in the field of our poetry. 
 Late Manzoor was my lifelong friend and a very close associate. We were born and brought up in the same locality in old city of Srinagar and we together started our studies in Islamia High School, one of the most outstanding educational institutions at that time.
 It was Hakim Manzoor’s broadmindedness, rather his acknowledgement of my so called talent, that he himself expressed his desire that I become his guru to train him in the art of poetry. I was quite open to have him as a talented and promising poet but advised him if he could try his pen on his own Kashmiri language. This was categorically disagreed by him saying that if he turned towards writing poetry it would only be in Urdu and no other language including his own mother tongue. I had no option open to me but to succumb to his decision he had taken while choosing his own medium of expression.
Manzoor’s collections of Urdu and Kashmiri poems are an example of his masterly knowledge of the use of correct language, diction, perfect style and art of effective communication with the reader.  
 He authored more than one dozen Urdu books, mostly comprising his ghazals with two of them in Kashmiri language.
 Somehow at places one feels that he had been choosing for himself linguistically very difficult qafiyaas and radeefs which made many of his ghazals rather shaggy, without lyricism and uneven, losing much of the essence of a fragrant diction of ghazal.
 Allow me to repeat here one of his Kashmiri couplets which in my opinion is one of the finest poetic pieces in a very rich treasure of Kashmiri poetry. He says:

The springy hands didn’t take much to change;
Stones were over turned to find out if any flower was still alive.
 This beautiful couplet speaks volumes about Kashmir today.
 Injustice was done to Manzoor for not being recommended for the prestigious Sahitya Akademi award for any of his Urdu or Kashmiri books which are a testimonial of his creativity.

Had he been alive, he would have himself realised that in today’s Kashmir Moma Kannas and not  Hakim Manzoors are considered worthy of all honours and awards.
 I have observed it minutely that Manzoor was over confident about himself as a writer. It was probably a fact in this context that he mounted frontal attacks on the newly come up cult of insipid poets and writers who could not meet even the basic requirements of genuine poetry.
 Chahaar Zarb is however a laudable addition to our Urdu literature.
 I somehow must point out that as many as 18 of Manzoor’s quatrains have been repeated in the collection and at one or two places his radeefs of quatrains have either been calligraphed incorrectly or the poet has himself committed this mistake.  This has damaged the lyricism of his poetic beauty and excellence. Traditionally, it is imperative and a demand of phonetics that a quatrain must contain first, second and its fourth line with a radeef sounding in same rhythm and melodious resemblance.
 Right up to his demise on 21 December 2006, Manzoor, a good and affable friend, never gave up a permanent smile all through dancing on his face.
 I shall now conclude my observations with reciting Manzoor’s one of the beautiful quatrains which runs as follows:
 I possessed a stone which I didn’t examine,
May be it was a jewel, I never thought,
When it fell from my hands and broke into pieces,
See, I punished myself and didn’t shed a tear

(This paper was read out at a function organised last week by the JK Academy of Art, Culture & Languages in connection with the release of late Manzoor’s collection of Urdu quatrains titled Chahaar Zarb)
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