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Remembering Nasir Kazmi…..

March 2nd marks the 48th death anniversary of noted Urdu poet Syed Nasir Raza Kazmi, commonly known as Nasir Kazmi.

Why am I writing about Nasir Kazmi on his death anniversary this year? Because I realized this year that my journey of reading and learning Urdu poetry began with Kazmi.

I remember entering the Liberty Books outlet in Karachi, the one next to BBQ Tonite, and picking up his diwan to purchase from the book sale. I must be 16 or 17 years old, and this was the first grown-up poetry book I purchased. I cant remember what drew me to Kazmi’s collection, but his photo on the front coupled with verses inside that were in common language was definitely two reasons.

Of course, little did I know that these verses in everyday language will reveal extraordinary meaning and depth as I read and re-read them. In fact, also be some statements and poetic references that we hear around us, popularized through the ghazals sung by Ghulam Ali and Mehdi Hassan.

Recently, I also learned that Nasir Kazmi was a close friend of my all-time favourite prose author Intizar Husain as well. Intizar sahab and Nasir sahab would have made great company for each other, and one can only imagine what that halqa-e-ahbab (circle of friends) would have been like, and what conversations would have flowed with cups of tea. Intizar sahab also wrote this column in Dawn newspaper before his death, remembering Kazmi on his death anniversary a few years ago.

Here is a selection of verses from Nasir Kazmi that I have enjoyed. And only these so far because I am yet to fully explore his collection:

hamāre ghar kī dīvāroñ pe ‘nāsir’

udāsī baal khole so rahī hai

ai dost ham ne tark-e-mohabbat ke baavajuud
mahsuus kii hai terii zaruurat kabhii kabhii

mujhe ye Dar hai tirī aarzū na miT jaa.e

bahut dinoñ se tabī.at mirī udaas nahīñ

daa.em ābād rahegī duniya

ham na hoñge koī ham sā hogā

dayār-e-dil kī raat meñ charāġh sā jalā gayā

milā nahīñ to kyā huā vo shakl to dikhā gayā

– Listen to the full ghazal recited by poet Zehra Nigah here and Ghulam Ali and Asha Bhosle here.

Explore the entire collection of Urdu poetry by Nasir Kazmi at rekhta.org, which also lets you look up meanings of words in context of the verse. Enjoy!

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