Sunday, March 3, 2013

Hassan Dars (1968 - 2011)

2011: A promising Sindhi poet Hassan Dars died after suffering serious wounds in an accident in the wee hours of Thursday. As he lay in his car bleeding to death, Qasimabad and GOR police were busy bickering over jurisdiction which delayed his being taken to a hospital. He was 43. He was later brought to the hospital by participants of a wedding party at around 4am. 2013 LAUNCH OF HASAN DARS’S POETRY COLLECTION Two years ago, Sindhi poet Hasan Dars had been a speaker at the KLF and had mesmerised his listeners. He had read out his poetry’s English translations but was requested to read out the Sindhi as well because people wanted to listen to its rhythm even if they couldn’t understand it. At the fourth KLF, a collection of his poetry titled Hasan jo Risalo was launched, more than a year after his death. It is the first publication of his works. Mohammed Hanif moderated the session while Mazhar Laghari, Masood Lohar and Sardar Shah shared their memories of Dars. Ameer Mandhro read out from his poetry. Hanif said that Dars was a great poet, not only among his contemporaries but also among his seniors. Laghari, himself a well-known poet, said when they all were composing poetry against Zia’s dictatorship, Dars’s poetry was galloping at a horse’s speed. (Dars frequently used the horse as a symbol in his poetry.) Laghari said Hasan was very fond of touring Sindh and used to say that the “whole of Sindh is a reflection of a friend.” Lohar said that Dars was deeply influenced by Sufism and wrote hamds and naats as well. “After his death we compiled his poetry honestly. We could not exclude the hamds and the naats from the collection.” “Hasan never recited the hamds and naats in our private gatherings,” said his close friend Muzaffar Chandio sparking a debate about his Sufi leanings. Iqbal Mallah said that Sufism is a part of our traditions and our Sufi poets raised their voices against injustices of the rulers of their times. Ishaq Samejo was of the opinion that we should not put poets into compartments. Whether Dars was a Sufi or not is a futile question. Dars also wrote a lot on women. He used to say that women would continue to be victimised till they take up arms for their rights. During the question- answer session, people from the audience paid tribute to the poet. The session was so well-attended that many had to stand. REFERENCES: LAUNCH OF HASAN DARS’S POETRY COLLECTION BY Attiya Dawood 24th February, 2013 Poet Hassan Dars dies in accident 17th June, 2011

Hassan Dars and his verse - 1

Hassan Dars and his verse - 1 by SalimJanMazari

These poems have been translated from the Sindhi by Asif Farrukhi and Shah Mohammed Pirzada

`A Poem For The Cold Season`

Warm waters of love spring from my heart. How cold it is now, It was never so cold before, Not even in the days Of frost and snow, Warm waters of love spring from my heart. Girl beautiful as the birds from a cold climate! My ten fingers Are lit up like lamps Then why does silence reign in the land of your soul And why is it Cold as death? Whatever conversation My hands have With your body Is all fire, Then why are you silent? Why are you not a song? Why are you not an aria? Before you turn into A snow-figure lying at home Let us take a walk to hell.`The Wind Is The Sea`s Lover` You think that marriage Is the ultimate reality Which will take you away from me, But don`t you think it is enough That the sky is a friend of the clouds Trees are the sons of the earth The wind is the sea`s lover Waterfalls are the laughter of the mountains And you are my beloved.

 `Everybody Has A Bit Of The Sea`

Everybody has a little bit of the sea Every lover has a seashore Every sea knows the taste of waiting in vain, In every moment of waiting A wave dances in the rain, Ideas come to everybody Years come to everybody huffing and puffing across centuries, There comes a fear In that fear situations, desires, Away from the fear, the situations, Comes a smouldering language.

 In everyman dances a peacock In everyman lurks a thief, Across everyman`s throat Glitters a whole age of swords, Each age a riddle Everyman has a riddle.

`A Poet`s Homeland` A poet`s homeland Is in his eyes.

 He stands on dry land, Memories seek him out, come to him Like sea waves. He writes a few words He gets angry many times He doesn`t know what he wants. He turns to the village each time And today also He is thinking: in the village`s narrow lanes How good life must be! On a marble grave Moonbeams must be pouring out their light. He is thinking: The barrel of his brother`s gun Must still be warm And a few birds In the throes of death At the edge of the lake, And his brother`s red pony Must be restless at the sound of gunfire. Suddenly he goes further: `Life is elsewhere` It seems that he is walking With Milan Kundera`s silence. He peeps inside a Prague home Where a Czech girl Is curled up naked on the bed with a foreigner. 0 Kundera! You live in Paris But Life is Elsewhere. Yes, it is at the point From where Solzhenitsyn`s exile Rises like a sun. Or even further ahead Where the wind sings In a voice sweeter than Umme Kulsoom`s In the date-palm trees once owned by Mahmoud Darwish`s grandparents. He walks As far as his thoughts can take him. He lives As far as his eyes can see. Reference: POETRY: Hasan Dars and his verse 12th February, 2012

Hassan Dars and his verse - 2

Hassan Dars and his verse - 2 by SalimJanMazari

Out of the blue the other day I received the text message: “Hasan Dars passed away”. I thought it was a joke. How could it be? Hasan was still an adolescent! Maybe it is not the right word, but his energy, his wide, poetry-breathing grin, how could it all have suddenly evaporated into thin air? There was something terribly wrong with the message. It had come from Sharjeel Baloch, our common friend who works for the BBC. I desperately tried to call him but couldn’t get through. I pondered calling Hasan, but changed my mind. I didn’t like the idea that the minstrel who beckoned us to an elusive light of poetry may have quietly slipped out in the dark. I dismissed my fears, reinforced by friends who always knew one thing about Hasan: he was always in a hurry. We could never match his speed; be it poetry or his love affairs — the haste of a man trying to defeat time. Hasan was a restless wanderer, a bard who could’ve easily passed for a film hero. We often joked about it and he would complain that despite his looks, we never tried to bring him stardom and hence the world did not discover him. Laughingly, we’d point out how outrageous it was to imagine him performing silly fight sequences that Shaan or Rambo, or back in the days, Sultan Rahi and Mustafa Qureshi managed. And on such occasions, he would promptly get up, and like a kid, oblige us with his acrobatics.  Hasan would conveniently forget to mention the fact that none of us had ever managed to produce a film despite all our daydreaming. We were losers.

 But it was not about covering up for us, or being polite. It was not becoming a hero that Hasan was interested in. All he had ever wanted was to be a poet and be near those women — those pretty, unreal women. Everything Hasan did was for the love of poetry and life. Despite his manly looks, he had a passionate woman within him. In many ways, that is what set him apart from his contemporaries. Hasan was easy going, always laughing and endlessly speaking to the people, trees and animals around him. He could talk to a horse, a cat or a fish when redundant discussions and meaningless arguments among his friends bored him. Yet, he was considered the best poet after Shaikh Ayaz in Sindh. With his antics, however, we never truly realised that. He preserved a boyishness about him, never taking himself too seriously. It was only when we travelled with him in Sindh that we would often be taken by surprise by his popularity. In some of the remotest places, we have seen his fans asking for a poem and an autograph or being grateful for simply shaking hands with him. Hasan also was not much for political correctness. I remember that in 2002, our journalist friend Owais Tauheed and I were commissioned to produce a documentary about the lives of fishermen. We managed to convince him to write the copy. We shot most of the film in Mubarak Village near Karachi which wasn’t frequented by outsiders in those days. While the objective of the documentary was to raise awareness about the condition of fishermen, sitting by the side of the glorious beach under a blue sky, Hasan recited a poem that wasn’t for the fishermen but for the fish. He had an eye for sensitive detail, but I only a remember part of it and what it said at the end:

On that narrow bank where the fishermen are busy repairing their nets Walks a fisherwoman, gently but happily.

 Yesterday she gave birth to a son.

 But she has not given birth to a son,

She has given birth to a net.

 In the course of passing years, we would only bump into each other on social occasions. We were not used to exchanging pleasantries though. We would hug, complain, swear at each other, and joke about our slavery to our day jobs and families; and then promise to ‘meet’. Hasan had once made a plan to invite all his friends to Keenjhar Lake and spend a night there. He had read about Pablo Neruda’s birthday party in London on a boat on the Thames in a literary magazine. Similarly, Hasan wanted us to meet on a full moon night at Keenjhar. He had planned it in detail. All the friends — Mohammed Hanif, Khalid Ahmed, Sharjeel Baloch, Owais Tauheed, Munir Shah, Hasan Mujtaba and Khatao Mal — were going to be there. We were going to have a fabulous party. I was to bring a baja or a guitar or an ektara; we were going to sing, have dinner and sing more, and return when we felt like it. But when the trip was organised, I could not go because of a personal engagement. I have lived to regret that. Now, I guess I am going to have to regret it forever. Such thoughts make the rounds in my head as I switch on the TV and one Sindhi channel after the other confirms the bad news. I think to myself, “So this is it. Hasan has moved on leaving us with our sagging double chins and useless worries of a lost and bitter homeland. Good for him. He was in a hurry, he knew better.” Then I sit down to pen my thoughts. I am able to overcome my grief and loss when I remember that Hasan never liked clichés. Had he been sitting with me to grieve his own death, he would have brought a lot of booze and invited as many friends as he could. He would have celebrated life and joked about our failure to bring him stardom. He may have grieved to find a new way of connecting with his own death; but even if he had been badly hurt physically in that horrible accident at four in the morning, he would have never thought of it as the end. He would have used liquor as a sedative, and thought of it as the beginning of a new journey. No wonder he wrote:

 Life is but one of the small pieces of Rilli

If you won’t sit on it,

I better fold it.

Musadiq Sanwal recalls the life and ways of a dear poet friend, Hasan Dars - Yaar zinda, sohbat baaqi 26th June, 2011

Hassan Dars and his verse - 3

Hassan Dars and his verse - 3 by SalimJanMazari

In the orgy of bloodshed that this country is going through, there is one death that can’t be blamed on the militants or the military or drones. Hasan Dars didn’t die at the hands of dacoits, nobody abducted and tortured him. There was a car accident, there were heartless police officers who couldn’t make up their mind whether it was a part of their job to help a car crash victim or not. There is something about the death of a young, beautiful poet in his prime that makes one reach for the clichés that the poet himself fought all his life. Tragic, we often say, or untimely, as if there is such a thing as a timely death. “Hassu’s demise is not tragic,” a common friend called to say. “But his death has made all our lives tragic.” People of Sindh saw Hasan give his first public recital in 1987, at a literary gathering of Sindhi Adbi Sangut. Shaikh Ayaz, the doyen of Sindhi poetry, after his long silence through the Zia years, was making a rare public appearance. Hasan read his epic poem “Nange Sarmad je Hazoor” (In the Court of Naked Sarmad). And immediately it was decided that he was the rightful heir to Ayaz. For the next 23 years, Hasan became a legend of sorts. Students framed his poems and hung them in their hostel rooms; every new piece of poetry he wrote was considered an event. Nobody knows how and when it was decided, but for all practical purposes he was crowned Sindh’s national poet. And he never even published a single collection of his work. As a poet Hasan wasn’t just liked or loved, he was worshipped. 

Grown men adored him, married women were ready to ditch their beloved families for a few hours of his company; there were times when pistols were drawn to decide who will get to host Hasan for the evening. Hasan was a one man travelling mushaira, a rock star always on the road, a fakir with a taste for finer things in life. All he had to do to start a party was to drive into town and people would start pouring out. He was the centre of a league of men who sat by a lakeside or in a smoke-filled room reciting poetry all night, recounting stories of lost comrades who spent half their lives underground. The cult was tentatively called Qatilan-i-Shab, or assassins of the night, its sole aim to wage a war against time, against sleep, against predictability. And when the sun started to come up, it would always be Hasan reciting his new poems. Sometimes he would recite one line and his audience would recite the next one. It was always his voice but there was something about his diction and his stylish rendering that the audience believed the illusion that it was an act of collective creativity. Since there was never a published book to be read, his poetry travelled seena-ba-seena, from heart to heart. He was a proud flâneur, stopping only to spend the night with a group of friends. He was like those Sindhi gents you see spending all day in a chai khana. City dwellers often wonder why they aren’t more productive, why they don’t do something more with their lives? As far as Hasan was concerned, what could be more productive than talking to one’s friend, watching the world go by, and composing poems? He was always on a mission to show his city friends that side of life. His invitations always arrived with promises of moonlit nights on Keenjhar Lake and new poetry. Hasan was a bridge between Sindhi and Urdu intellectuals, writers and well-read youth from both sides of the ethnic divide, especially at times of ethnic strife in Sindh. If he was reading for friends who didn’t understand Sindhi, he would patiently explain every line he recited. “Karachi, we are your sunflowers and you are our Sun,” reads one of his poems about the city. There are many Karachi residents who only saw Sindh on their travels with Hasan. And although he loved listening to and reciting poetry, Hasan had no interest in being among the literati. His circle of friends included professional thieves, outlaws on the run, intellectuals, prostitutes, fakirs and politicians. Hassan had a passion for horses. When he started a project to raise a breed of local horses his friends managed to persuade him to apply for a small grant. “How will your community benefit from this project?” he was asked. “I don’t know about my community, but I can bet the community of horses will definitely benefit from this,” he replied.

In the heart of every man, there is a horse leaping

 In the heart of every man, there is a piece of sea

And every sea has a shore On every shore is the eternal wait.

 Rest in peace, Hasan. Horses and humans, we all will miss you.

Reference: ‘We are your sunflowers and you are our Sun’ by Mohammed Hanif and Hasan Mujtaba 27th June, 2011
تو کیا جانے درد جدائي کیا ہوتا ہے حسن مجتیٰ

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