In the second semester of my undergrad degree, during a lecture the teacher, Mr. Alvi, recited a line from a poem by the legendary modern Urdu poet Faiz. Specifically, the line was: Hum aa gaye to garmi-e-bazaar dekhna. The situation that led Mr. Alvi to recite this line is very interesting. A group of students who always skipped Mr. Alvi’s lectures made a surprise entry one day towards the end of his lecture. I will always remember how he smiled at them, calmly read the line from Faiz’s poem, and continued his lecture. The line means: “See how the bazaar lights up when I enter”.

The lecture had been and gone, but the line recited by Mr. Alvi got stuck in my head. At his next lecture, I requested Mr. Alvi to share title of the poem with me. To my utter disappointment, he did not remember the poem or the poet! I searched up the poem online with no success. A few days later, the line was still with me like a puzzle, so I sifted through Kulliyat-e-Faiz (Complete works of Faiz). After about an hour, I found it. Joy!

Six years later, today I was reading poetry by the classical Urdu poet Meer, and came across a poem that took me back to Faiz’s poem recited by Mr. Alvi. Although separated by more than a century, the two poems perfectly match in rhythm and metre (in Urdu, bahr, qafia and radeef). I don’t know if it’s a case of inspiration or serendipity, but I’m exhilirated by the discovery!

Faiz

Meer