Yes, I’ve been tracking down love poems for my collection again! This time I jumped on a cyber train to Karachi.
I’d heard of Zeeshan Sahil before but I’d never gotten around to looking him up. Turns out he was an extraordinary, shy, gentle Karachi writer who loved his country, his family and life’s simple pleasures and beauties.
“I love trees, the air, travelling and dreaming. I love flowers, colours and words but water and skies are my favourites. I am afraid of loneliness and stagnation.” – he said in a 2002 interview with dawn.com.
All You Need Is…
Love, is indeed the focus of Zeeshan’s work – more than anything his love of Karachi, and his love of poetry, so much so that he named his 1995 anthology after the city.
Karachi aur doosri nazme, is his poignant Urdu documentation of the city torn apart by trouble in the nineties, written with a vision of truth and a heart filled with love.
“I fell in love with this city filled with life and people, it gave me a place in its heart. …My brothers and sisters and my friends have spoiled me with their love and affection and perhaps this is what continues to give meaning to my poetry.”
An Untimely Ending
Perhaps my only regret is not finding Zeeshan before his untimely death in 2008. No stranger to struggle, this incredible poet maintained wit and humour in his prose and poetry, despite a physical disability that left him unable to live independently.
Sometimes I wonder if some artists weren’t simply born to do what they do, and this would certainly hold true in Zeeshan’s case. In his own words:
“If I did not write poetry then I would not have done anything. Writing poetry is my vocation and not a hobby or habit.”
My favourite of the Karachi poems is simply entitled A Poem for You. I hope you like it!
A Poem for You
The world is the wrong place to live
if one had to live forever.
Each day life
would become more unbearable.
But the happiness of traveling on the bus
and the melting wax from the burning candle
on your dressing table,
and the smoke collecting on your mirror
make up for everything.
The flowers pressed in my book
grow in to jungle dreams.
Your fingers trace many different paths
in the dust on the Formica.
And in the city with many blank street signs
when the night becomes darker,
your uneasy presence makes
the stars unnecessary, the moon redundant,
and the sea superfluous.
Your memory and the mounting pressure around my
make me pray.
Despite the eternal anger of God toward poets,
my prayer always begins with you.