Did you know that Alys Faiz, whom renowned poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz had married in 1941, published a book of memoirs, ‘Over My Shoulder’ (1993), about her life as a British expatriate living in Pakistan ?
Alys was a British-born naturalized Pakistani poet, writer, journalist, human rights activist, social worker and teacher. Alys has had to live through some difficult times. These ranged from life with a hounded husband ( Faiz Ahmed Faiz) held in varying spells in distant captivity, to days in a building flat in Beirut that became a prime target of Israeli bombings. She writes about these things matter of factly taking it her stride. Her restraints and avoidance are often more eloquent than other peoples elaboration.
In her book ” Over My shoulder” she also has a collection of poems. Given below is poem ” words for Faiz” by Alys FaizA poem For Faiz I will sing of you later, when the tread of a thousand feet the unending roll of sorrow, the breath of roses enfolding the eulogies, the warranted praise the drawn out memories of others the grief of recalling, the total acceptance of death is over Then will i sing, not to the tread of a thousand feet, nor to the roll of sorrow Nor will i lift the roses nor echo praise nor recall, nor accept My song neither begins nor ends it is eternity.
After her death, writer Habib Sulemani wrote in The Dawn newspaper, “During my decade-long stay in Lahore, as a silent observer of the literary-scene, I was fascinated by her life-story which made me believe that women are stronger than men and have an immense power and talent for reconciliation and bridging the gaps between two families or nations. Alys gave courage to many western women who were married to Pakistanis and now live here as citizens. Alys gave many sacrifices. Faiz Ahmad Faiz’s life and poetry have influenced hundreds of thousands of people in one way or the other, but Alys has shaped his life and poetry. A study of Faiz, as a person and a poet, cannot be complete without a study of Alys. Rather I should say she needs a special treat on her own right as a writer and a poet. A recent dramatic Production ‘Chand Roz Aur Meri Jaan’ focussed for the first time on the inimitable chemistry between Faiz and Alys. ‘Chand Roz Aur Meri Jaan’ presents the hitherto unknown aspcets of their life with the help of letters exchanged between them, particularly during Rawalpindi Saazish days. In one such production at Amritsar, renowned theatre actress Suchitra Gupta portrayed the role of Alys with Danish Iqbal. So, apart from few newspaper articles and interviews in books, this production is first ever attempt to pay tribute to the silent role played by Alys in shaping the life of Faiz.”