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Book review: Aankhon Ke Us Paar - Foziya Rabab's first collection of poems
Foziya Rabab, Arshia Publications, New Delhi, September, 2017 ISBN 93-86872-02-1, 148 Pages, 500 Rs Reviewed by Manzar Imam

Foziya Rabab's first collection of poems exhibits her grasp of both the language as well as the issues that she deals with in the 148 page-length book Aankhon Ke Us Paar. Virgin works sometimes carry flaws and technical errors but Rabab's venture into the field of poetry defies tradition and shows maturity. Ghazal, for her, takes birth when she visits fields or when the moon spreads its light to welcome her, whereas nazm comes into existence when words throw their scent on her being.

Poetry is considered the most difficult one among all literary genres. It is because it conjures up human emotions and feelings in a subtle way. A good poetry is one which can say in two lines what, in prose, can be described in a number of paragraphs and phrases. And doing so requires mastery of the language besides understanding of the respective subjects.

The very first collection of poems of Foziya Rabab exhibits her grasp of both the language as well as the issues that she deals with in this 148 page-length book. Virgin works sometimes carry flaws and technical errors but Rabab's venture into the art of poetry defies tradition and shows maturity.

Poetry, they say, is an art of wordplay. Foziya says the same in the preface, "It's my hobby to live with words." My heart leaps towards the words in the same way as a child's does towards a butterfly. There is a philosophical wisdom behind such a description. For philosophy is also about reviving in man the child-like curiosity which, in fact, is the beginning of questioning without bothering about what the answers could be. Foziya's by-word is shahzada (prince); a metaphor she uses for expression of love and longing, the main theme of ghazal.

Love is an integral part occupying the central character in her poetry. However, she is pained at the repeated cases of assault on it: Humne to bus pyar kiya tha paap nahin/Logon ne to baat badha di shahzade.

Other than the charms she leaves the audiences with in her ghazals, her grasp of nazms is also amazing. The flow and coherence in both her ghazals and nazms places her at par with renowned poets as Justice Suhail Ejaz Siddiqui remarked during the launch of Aankohn Ke Us Paar, "In Foziya one can see the future Parveen Shakir." That is a big tribute to a young poet who has just come up with her first collection. There are echoes of Shakir in Foziya's lines like Hijr ka faisla ekdum hi sunaya usne/Usne samjha tha mera dil koi patthar hoga. Also, there is a tinge of indifference in her mood when she says Woh mujhe bewafa samajhta hai/Khair mera Khuda samajhta hai.

Being the daughter of an 'aalim (theologian), she carries in her poetry the streak of spirituality; couplets like Hain is jahan mein ghamon ki tughyaniyan musalsal/Aur aise toofan mein bas kinara dar-e-Nabi show her faith in and connection to Allah and His Messenger.

Here are some of my favourite lines from the collection:

Humne teri aankhon mein rahkar mahsoos kiya,

Kitna dard chhupa rakkha hai aakhon ke us paar.

Hawayein bhi unhi ko hausla dene ko aati hain,

Udanon ke hunar jinke bhi baal-o-par mein rahte hain.

Aankhon Ke Us Paar includes twenty nazms and two geet (folk song). Betiyan (Daughters) and Aunty (Chachi/Phuphi/Mami) are beautiful namzs that poignantly capture some brutal social realities that women face on a daily basis. Betiyon ko harass mat karna/Unko hargiz udaas mat karna and Betiyon ko sazayein mat dena/Unko gham ki qabayein mat dena contain powerful message in a soft poetic tone.

The geet "Hamara Hindustan" is an apt description of the idea of India as a country of diverse values and carries imprints of pluralism: Ek nahin yeh lakhon jaanein hon us par qurban/Na tera na mera dekh hamara Hindustan.

Foziya is unaware how and when she became a poet because, for her, there is no solid evidence of it. It is rather the beauty of the universe and the feelings that shape into what one calls poetry. For Foziya ghazal takes birth when she visits fields or when the moon sheds her light to welcome her, whereas nazm comes into existence when words send their scent on her being.

Her poetry at times prescribes patience and perseverance as the medicine to avoid as well as cure pain. Therefore it also suggests careful and restrictive use of language: Zuban phisalke teri shaan tujhse chhinegi/Lagam de tu usey mere yaar chup khamosh. Aankhon Ke Us Paar has interesting poems to meet the demand of contemporary Urdu poetry enthusiasts. 

A freelance journalist based in Delhi, Manzar Imam divides his time between writing and research and follows his heart to celebrate India's diversity of art, culture and tradition.

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