Did You Know – the renowned Urdu poet Kaifi Azmi once wrote a letter dipped in his blood, to his wife Shaukat Kaifi, when he was trying to woo her. Here is their story and the English translation of the letter:
Kaifi & I, Shaukat Kaifi’s memoirs of her life with her husband is an eye-opening insight into the life and time of the Urdu Progressive Writers Movement. It speaks of the life and struggles of Kaifi but above all else, it speaks of the love and commitment that their marriage of over half a century witnessed.
The ibteda or beginning of their love story was as dramatic as love stories can get. They first met at a mushaira where Kaifi was to recite. At that time, Shaukat was meant to get married to her Mamun’s son, Usman, in three months’ time. However, she was so mesmerized by Kaifi at the mushaira and he by Shaukat, that a long exchange of letters began between them – at times 6, at others a dozen letters a day – against the wishes of her mother and brothers. At one point, Shaukat’s family discovered these letters and Usman also turned up at home threatening to kill himself, all of which prevented Shaukat from writing to Kaifi for a brief time. This drove Kaifi to express his love to Shaukat, dipped in his blood.
An excerpt from the book is below, Kaifi & I: A Memoir by Shaukat Kaifi (edited and translated by nasreen Rehman) is below:
Twenty days passed and Kaifi did not hear from me. He assumed that I was upset about something he might have written (in his previous letters). Kaifi wrote to me in his blood:
21 March, Night 1 a.m.
After I finished writing to you I sealed the envelope and went to bed thinking I might get some sleep, but could not. I re-red your letter and was unable to control my tears. Shaukat, it is my misfortune that you have no faith in me or in my love. For days I have been thinking of nothing but ways of trying to convince you that I love you. I have taken a blasé and cut a deep wound into my wrist and nove I am writing to you in my blood. For months I have shed tears for our love and now I am shedding my blood. I do not know what the future holds for us.
Moti, he continued, addressing me by the name I was called by my family, I am deeply hurt. How could you write, “Now I know that his eyes are not on me but on someone else who does not understand gim; nor does she want to understand him”? Take back, these words, Shaukat, and do not mock my love. If you cannot do anything for me, so be it. Even as I started loving you, I knew there was no hope. God will look after me. You question my love and my intention to marry you. All I can say is that one day, I shall prove myself to you and to the world.
My Shaukat, what is to become of me and of my love? We are so far away from each other that is it impossible for you to see my pain. You believe what others have to say without trying to understand my compulsions. If I have said anything to upset you, please forgive me.
Lots and lots of love,
Kaifi wrote this agony letter in his own blood — which is still preserved with Shaukat till this day — and stands as just one testimony to this timeless companionship. Amusingly, Shaukat’s “Abbajan”, the reluctantly supportive parent, had cautioned her saying, “Betey, a poet has a way with words that can sound terribly romantic, but it is hardly wise to take him seriously. He may well be lying under the shade of a tree, enjoying the gentle breeze as he claims, ‘I am hitting my head against a wall in agony and am writing to you in my blood,’ as he dips his pen in the blood of a goat! Let us wait and watch.”