My association with Sir Ghalib Raza started on the wrong foot. I was in class 8th at Islamabad Model School for Boys (now ICB), in G-6/3, adjacent to the famous Covered Bazar (which was razed a few years ago). It was first or second week of the new term. When Sir Ghalib Raza entered the class most of the students were talking to each other. He may have noticed some disturbance in the class, and he thought that I was the one making it, and the first thing he did was to come and slap me. I used to be a really quiet student at that time; always very careful not to get on the wrong side of any teacher. This was my first time in life being slapped, and I cried. When I reached home, I was still disturbed and shared my perplexing experience with my mother. My mother arranged a meeting at the school a few days later. She met with Sir Ghalib Raza, and discussed the issue. I think the matter was resolved amicably and Sir Ghalib Raza’s attitude towards me changed drastically. Of course, I never gave him an opportunity to be cross with me ever again. He would later on always call me as Irfan-e-Hyder, and I think he was the only one who called me with this twist that actually improved the meaning of my name.
I recall vividly three of his recitations in class that were delivered in his distinctive style. First one is from the ghazal of none other than the most romantic of Urdu poets, Shair-e-Rumaan, Akhtar Shirani:
The second piece was no wonder, again from Akhtar Shirani:
I now come to his wonderful rendition of a poem of which only two verses had remained stuck in my mind for the last over four decades, I vaguely remembered that the poet was Ahmed Nadeem Qasmi. The two beautiful ashaar were:
The poem related to a young wife looking at her husband tilling the soil of the fields as she carried the lunch to him at mid day, and waiting for him to join her on a rock nearby. The way Sir Ghalib Raza recited the poem deeply immersed in the scenery and engrossed in the imagery depicted in this poem is a treat for me till this day. I can visualize him reciting the poem each time I think about that class session way back over 4 decades ago in 1975. I can see his face red with emotions. I can see him in his trance actually living the situation of that young wife of the tiller singing for her husband. In that moment his emotions and feelings were felt by us in a transmission that connected him to the hearts of all the students. I can still visualize him standing there in front of the class reciting the poem. I don’t think I understood at that time all the meanings of the verses or the depth of emotions and messages. But I experienced the feelings that he was feeling and expressing in his ecstasy. In that moment, I fell in love with poetry. I enjoyed it then and I enjoy that experience now whenever I think about it.
I was waiting for this information. I am now completing this post which had been lingering in my draft folder for years. Thank you Hammad Rasheed Sb. for reconnecting me with the poem and that experience. The context of the two couplets that had been stuck in my mind for so many decades are now again much clearer, and what a pleasure it is to remember and recall that experience of his rendition:
The full poem is copied at the end of this post to highlight how poems highlighting the feelings and emotions should be used for kindling love of reading and poetry rather than dry analysis and dead erudition.
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