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As the evening drew closer we set the stage for yet another session of Mehfil. We decided to reflect on literature that sprouted out from the independence fervor amongst the writers since it is the month of August. Indian independence as a sentiment was instilled in poets and writers as early as in the period of Ghalib. Many prolific writers and poets contributed to Urdu literature feeling the need to eradicate imperial power. The passion and spirit was strong and the literature that emerged as a result had an indelible flavour.

We had with us our team consisting of Shama Zaidi (Apa), Salim Arif, Sadiya Siddiqui and Suhail Warsi who read some beautiful poetry and evoked a patriotic feeling in the audience.

Aptly we started the evening with famous speech given by Nehru on the day of independence. Followed by Salim Saab explaining briefly about writing revolved around Independence. Shama Apa continued by reading a beautiful poem by Altaf Hasan Hali called “Hub e Watan” followed by Suhail Warsi who recited a potent Ram Prasad Bismil poetry called “door tak yaad-e-vatan”. We discovered that the writer of the song “Sarfaroshi ki Tamana” was also Ram Prasad Bismil and played a visual clip from the film Bhagat Singh. Salim Saab continued by reading a poem by Ghalib called “ Daag-e-Hijra” also based on Independence.

We picked up most of the pieces from a book called Hindustan Humara, which has an amazing compilation of poems on Independence by Jan Nisar Aktar. From Majaz and Faiz to Hali and Iqbal, the book has a competent list of poets in two volumes.

Suhail Warsi read an endearing prose piece written by Kartar Singh Duggal from his autobiography, which is a very charming love story running parallel to the Indian independence day. It had a heartwarming feeling for the audience and it was the perfect spot for an interjection.

In the short interval we distributed few flags to feel the spirit of the independence where people sipped on tea and chatted about what they had discovered.

We started our second session with Sadiya Siddiqui reciting poems of Josh Malihabadi titled “ Kisan” and Majaz titled “ Inquilab”

Salim Saab read some more poetry and explained to the audience that it is impossible to separate independence from partition as most of the people involved have bittersweet memories. In the audience we had with us a gentleman who had experienced partition as he lived in Karachi and then moved to India as a refugee around 1947. He shared his story with the audience and also mentioned that he had heard the Nehru’s speech on Independence Day in 1947 on radio.

After an enriching mix of literature we ended the session with Iqbal’s poem “ Sare Jahan se Achcha” with a promise to be back next month with yet another interesting subject. As the curtains came down people dispersed slowly feeling a renewed sense of patriotism which most of the time seems to be locked up in our closets.

  • Hindustan Humara– Jan Nisar Akhtar
  • kis pe kholun ghanthari (Whom to tell my tale)‬ – Kartar Singh Duggal’s Autobiography
  • Sarfaroshi ki Tamana – Ram Prasad Bismil
  • Sare Jahan se Achcha – Mohammed Iqbal