I vividly remember the Sunday when I was jumping and singing
“Jangal jangal baat chali hai pata chala hai
Chhaddi pehen ke phool khila hai phool khila hai”
And my parents thought that I was just making up the second line, they didn’t believe me, till they actually heard the song on television. I think that was my first encounter with you and your magical words, I innocently fell in love with the way you so subtly and simply juxtapose the words in your sentences. If you happen to be with me that time, I would have happily shared my ‘Kiss Me’ bar with you that I used to get from my grandfather, after his long walks. I never missed Mogli and I made sure that I never miss the title track too.
An average student from a middle class family, I wasn’t surrounded with any unique literary element, and I was never introduced to the world of literature other than what I read in my course books, not that I had any encounter with the “Dead Poet’s Society”, but as I was growing up, your songs started marking my mind innately. Each and every word of yours felt like mild susurrations, whispers, or a blow of fresh air. I started craving and searching for more.
Those days I wasn’t well equipped with internet, so during long classes I would ask my friend to write down your songs for me. I still have the dairy where I dared to steal your words to preserve them in ink; I could wait for a life time for those words to come out from the well wrapped pages of the diary and flow rhythmically around me. And If I happen to cross you then I would intentionally let my diary fall –
“Kitabe maangne, girne uthane ke bahane rishte bante the”
I was surprised that there could be so many beautiful ways of saying the same thing. I was naive and ignorant, but you brought sensibility, love, anger, sorrow and every other possible emotion to my life. And I want to grow old with these feelings; I want the lines on my wrinkled face to reflect a life that was full of emotions.
“Dil to Bachcha hai Ji, Thoda Kachhaha iji”
Discussing your songs with my friends became my favorite topic of discussion. Your poetry appears fascinating to a layman like me and to critics who look to decipher the depth of it. Your words capture all my emotions and induce a beauty in them. It gives me sense of fullness, inertia and a battery backup for emergencies.
College days will forever be – “Copy ke panno jaise, jahan din palatte honge”,
Missing someone is “Tere bina zindagi bhi lekin zindagi to nahi”,
The sorrow that’s incurable is “Dil agar hai to dard bhi hoga, iska koi nahi ha hal shayad”,
Blissfulness of daily life is “Ek hi khwab kai baar dekha hai maine”
And what fun is praising a sexy woman by simply calling her hot; it has to be “Doodh ka ubaal hai”.
Proposing someone is “Takiye chaadar mehke rehtein hai, jo tum gaye, tumhari khusboo soongha karenge hum”
And I cannot possibly feel the pain but it gives me goose bumps, every time I listen to “Yaad hai Barisho Ke Din Pancham”.
Through one of the discussions when I came to know that your song, Satrangi Re is based on the seven stages of love, I felt enlightened and spirited as if it was the key to open the box of wisdom. And I was equally amazed when I found out that you used Gulmohar to signify love and blood both, in the song from ‘Omkara’:“Jag Ja ree Gudiya …………..tera bichauna, bhar bhar ke daaru, gulmohar ka tokra”
I would have never imagined ‘Chand’ in so many forms, if it wasn’t because of your songs. As Saba Bashir has explicitly written in her book ‘I swallowed the Moon’ that you perceive moon differently every time – “if it is a fifty-paisa coin, it is a bundle of clothes as well”. And moon was never the same for me either, it was the symbol of beauty (Chand ki bindi wali ratiyan), it was waiting (kuch chand ke rath to guzre the, par chand se koi utra nahi), it was the symbol of dreams (kabhi kabhi aas paas chand rehta hai) and it was love itself (Kya chand aur zameen me bhi koi khichaav hai!).
I so wish I could hold your hand and take a walk on a moonlit night where you can tell me about the different forms and I could just listen to you without even a blink. I so wish to become an invisible soul who can just observe you, when you write, sitting calmly, in your white shimmering kurta. I so wish to go for an astral projection when I shut my eyes and start listening to your recitations. I so wish to go through your personal notes that you pen down in Urdu. And once in my life, I so wish to go through your collection of books.
I wanted to be like Maya from your film ‘Ijazzat’, that you so perfectly sketched, I don’t even think she was human but poetry in motion .She was the beautiful crazy spirit who balanced the abnormal society. And if I were Maya, then I wouldn’t be writing you a letter but only poems. If I were Maya I would ask you to buy me some moments of belongingness, if I were Maya I would draw your sketch with your words and send it to you. But Alas! I am not- and I still don’t have the courage to become bohemian but deep inside I know that my heart belongs to everywhere I can go.
I would say that I love you only for your written word, but there is so much more. That voice which induces music to most mundane of utterings. Once I hear anything in your voice, I cannot read it or think of it in any other voice. Be it “Kitaabein jhhankti hai band almariyon ke sheeshon se” or “Wo bheeg rahi hai baarish me aur aag logi hai paani me” or “kisi mausam ka jhonka tha jo iss deewar par latki huyi tasveer tirchhi kar gaya hai”
Then is your sensibility towards the issues like patriotism, war, religion and riots (Lakeerein hain, to rehne do, Kisi ne rooth kar gusse mein shaayad khainch di thi..inhiko ab banao paala, aur aao, kabbadi khelte hain). Rarely has there been a more mature and sensible approach towards the topic and this increased my respect towards you manifolds.
Gulzaar Saab – I can go on writing about all the revelations, I came across because of you, your efforts to translate legends like Amrita Pritam and Tagore, the biography of Ghalib, your work on the despair of partition, your poems on Women Empowerment “Kitni Tarah Mai Jakdi Gayi”
but just one thing that I specifically want to confess –
“Mukhtsar Si Baat Hai, Tumse Pyaar Hai”