Tuesday, May 27, 2014

MQM should choose a Successor of Altaf Hussain-

May 27, 2014
By Saeed Qureshi
It seems as if a noose is being tightened by the British authorities around the neck of the MQM leader Altaf Hussain now living an exiled life in London. His latest overtures to obtain a Pakistani passport might be an attempt to leave UK and settle somewhere else, presumably in Pakistan. Otherwise it would be unthinkable for an asylum seeker with dubious credentials to leave a comparative comfortable life and opt for a thorn-ridden terrain of Pakistan that he left in a hurry to escape possible attempts on his life.
Several MQM leaders in Pakistan have raised hue and cry about not giving Pakistani passport to Altaf Hussain. They are spitting fire over the delayed or stalled decision of the Pakistan government in this matter. They have been at the same time extolling his patriotism and services not only for MQM and Muhajir community but also for Pakistan. This claim is open to debate as to what were his services for Pakistan.
Recently, one of the top leaders of MQM while paying glowing tributes to Altaf Hussain’s leadership portrayed him as a great leader who gave an identity to the identity-less Muhajir community and made them a vibrant monolithic force to fight for their rights, dignity and equality in Pakistan. This indeed is a truthful claim but one has to also add that because of him the MQM earned such ignoble labels as a dreadful mafia and a terrorist outfit.
Dr. Imran Farooq a one-time celebrity and co-founder of All Pakistan Muhajir Students Organization (APMSO) was murdered in mysterious circumstances on September 16, 2010, outside his home at Green Lane, Edgeware in North London. For almost four years the London Police has been investigating this high profile case with Altaf Hussain as one of the suspects who might have masterminded this assassination.
Since 2010 Altaf Hussain’s clout and powerful image has considerably whittled down. In the wake of a prolonged investigation about money laundering, lately his bank accounts have been frozen. It is evident that now the British government was about to reveal the outcome of four years’ investigation that could entail either arrest or exile of Altaf Hussain.
For health reasons and also under the nagging fear that he might be arrested any time, the long and dreary sermons and Tele-conferences of Altaf Hussain are now far and few.
In the wake of the latest anti-terrorism campaign in Karachi by rangers and police, a large number of MQM activists and suspects have also been nabbed and locked up. The oft-repeated strategy of jamming Karachi with shutter down callas and agitations and rallies by highly organized cadres is now losing its steam and consistency and the law enforcement agencies are continuing their job.
Lately there seems to be kind of huge panic and alarm among the MQM leadership for certain developments that are exclusively known to them. There has been a flurry of strong statements by various MQM leaders hedging and supporting Altaf Hussain in face of an impending and expected malady.
In the latest mammoth rally at Karachi various top ranking MQM politicians expressed their solidarity and sympathy with their leader at a time of colossal adversities he is faced with. Farooq Sattar complained “I want to ask Britain’s Prime Minster David Cameron why Altaf Hussain is being harassed when the MQM is fully cooperating in police investigations. “Why are his bank accounts being frozen when no FIR has been lodged against him and no charge framed in court?”
MQM Deputy Convener Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui eulogized Altaf Hussain by asserting that “Altaf was the one who gave us an identity.” Barrister Saif emphasized that “closing bank accounts and leveling false accusations – were mistaken. “He is not afraid of any cases.”
MQM’s MNA Nabil Gabol stated that those accusing Altaf of money laundering should first see the $200 billion stashed in Swiss banks, and the palatial mansions near Hyde Park in London. Only a small house belonging to a poor man on Edgware Road is being targeted.” Haider Abbas Rizvi said that Altaf Hussain was the only modern, liberal and secular leader in Pakistan.
Now all these hard hitting statements cannot rescue Altaf Hussain from the impending doom that could be a jail sentence according to the British laws for the crime of money laundering. By issuing acrimonious salvos the British laws would not change. In the past such threatening rhetorical postures have worked in favor of MQM and Altaf Hussain but cannot intimidate the British government where Altaf is given refuge and protection.
It is worth recalling that In June 2013, the operatives of the Scotland Yard’s Counter Terrorism Command searched at two North West London addresses including a house which is owned by the MQM chief Altaf. They arrested Iftikhar Hussain, Altaf’s cousin and personal assistant, who is now out on bail. The police impounded $600,000 in cash and some jewelry from Altaf’s personal residence.
 Altaf Hussain by virtue of his aggressive conduct and inflammatory speeches has rendered himself controversial both in United Kingdom and Pakistan. A refugee is not supposed to run and guide a political party that at home does not have a clean image or profile.
In fact Altaf Hussain has become a liability for the MQM which though most of the top notch leaders and even a segment of Urdu speaking population realize but cannot express it openly for fear of revenge and retaliation from the goons of MQM. Reportedly several prominent cohorts of Altaf Hussain lost their lives because of their dissensions with him. So under fear the MQM population turns out in huge numbers at rallies and to pose as if they were listening with rapt attention Altaf’s emotional orations.
Evidently the political landscape of Pakistan is now changing particularly in Karachi where a strong contender in the garb of PTI besides PPP and JI has emerged. Additionally, the full scale operations by the law enforcement agencies have practically blunted the arm twisting and bullying facades and antics of MQM that it has been advantageously resorting to for decades. MQM cannot blame that the intensive anti- crime blitz was solely being carried out against MQM.
Altaf Hussain founded MQM for ending the repression and discrimination against the Muhajir community that was marginalized by successive regimes after partition. But now MQM gets is due share in power both at the center and in Sindh province and is treated a force to reckon with.
Now the old tactics of bullying, blackmailing, taking out rallies and boycotting can no more be much effective for power sharing or perks. The MQM has to wash off the stigma of sponsoring armed gangs involvement in racketeering, abduction, harassment, and the targeted killings of ethnic and political opponents, journalists, the police and diplomats alike.
It is high time for the MQM’s central coordination and Central Executive executive committee to seriously find a successor of Altaf Hussain as he  may not be able to provide guidance in case he is imprisoned for money laundering if not for masterminding the murder of Dr. Imran Farooq.
Seeking of a passport means Altaf wants to leave UK and stay in some other country most probably Pakistan or South Africa. Even if a Pakistani passport is issued to Altaf Hussain and he comes to Pakistan, he would still be the most sought after target of Taliban and the religious parties whom he had been condemning all along. In 2001 in a letter addressed to the then Britain Prime Minister Tony Blair, he offered to help set up a spy network against the Taliban.
 Also there a huge pile of murder cases pending in Pakistani courts against Altaf although some have been quashed on the basis of NRO. So his stay in Pakistan could be as problematic and hazardous as anywhere else in the world. As such the glamorous era of Altaf Hussain ruling like an unrivaled monarch of a brutal political empire in Pakistan from safe haven of London for 22 years seems to be coming to a close.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Imran Khan should Demonstrate Political Maturity

May 21, 2014
By Saeed Qureshi
Imran Khan and his unruly and impulsive political cohorts should not demonstrate indecent haste in dislodging the incumbent elected PMLN government thus opening a corridor for the army to take over power. He should understand that by doing so he would inflict a deadly blow to democracy that has been barely in place for six years now. Is he mindful what could be the cost of holding fresh elections both financially and administratively?
Let us honestly admit that Imran Khan is not another Bhutto. Nor the conditions are as chaotic and desperate as these were way back in 80s. It is time to show political maturity and studied restraint to allow the democratic culture to sprout and take roots. The knee jerk acrobatics and incoherent demands and flashy slogans being stirred up by Imran Khan and other political contenders are outright uncalled for, amateurish and can derail democracy.
The most cherished and sublime form of government called democracy, has visited Pakistan after almost a decade of a military or quasi-military rule. Yet a part of the political leadership seems to be impatient to get rid of the PMLN government and thus is inadvertently creating conditions for the military to snatch the reins of the government once again. A bunch of political parties have whipped a smear campaign discrediting the incumbent government for rigging and thus pushing it to hold reelections on some constituencies or otherwise quit.
This tornado for reelections has been primarily hurled up by Imran Khan. The PTI and other small time politicians are trying to push the government into a corner in order to pave way for another bout of general elections. In the past such imprudent and expedient maneuvers and a kind of political insurgencies have finally landed Pakistan onto the military turf. One has to only look back if Pakistan ever benefited from a military rule? The answer is in negative.
We should not be short of memory to remember that unwarranted rabble rousing and a compelling propensity to dislodge the sitting governments have finally pushed Pakistan under the marshal boots. Why don’t Imran Khan a raw budding politician and relatively new entrant in the political arena and his ilk realize that such musical chairs replay has been detrimental to the consolidation of a democratic culture in Pakistan?
To ride on the crest of expediency and for ulterior motives may not harm the politicians but certainly would put a spanner in the march of democratic  apple cart, towards the establishment and continuance of a popular rule in Pakistan.  
the PPP could stay at the helm for five years with all the follies and insinuations then what is wrong with the ongoing set up that the amateurish saber rattlers as Imran Khan and of late Sheikh Rashid want it to be dismantled? Are they conscious of what could be the disastrous fallout for a democratically elected government to be stymied and cut short?
The PMLN government under Mian Nawaz Sharif is doing a decidedly much better job than what the previous governments have been doing. A government hoisted on the basis of adult franchise should be allowed to stay and complete its constitutional tenure. 
The choice should be left to the people of Pakistan to reelect the present lot or reject them in the next elections. The PMLN government has to its credit several far-reaching and milestone reforms and nation building policies channeled in a short span of a year or so.
Why don’t the rival politicians realize that when the present government took over there was a proverbial “Augean Stable” of diverse problems and Pakistan was plagued with an all pervasive mammoth mess? Mian Nawaz Sharif does not have a magical wand in his hand to straighten every wrong and to make the solid of Pakistan a paradise in days. But in all fairness he is doing his best to deliver for the good of the country and to streamline the systems hugely corrupted and turned dysfunctional.
The miserable plight of the teeming millions in Pakistan cannot be ameliorated overnight or in a short time frame even by the best of the mavericks, planners and reformers. The socio-economic landscape and political culture of Pakistan is disfigured and distorted that it would take time to shine it.
The non starter politicians like Imran Khan and false religious demagogues like Maulana Qadri may be adept in spoiling the show but it would be beyond their competence to reorder things and rebuild a prosperous Pakistan. 
The tribal justice system that is so precious and a kind of panacea for Imran Khan for all the ills in Pakistan could be a replica of what Taliban are doing. Their justice system is to kill by beheading their ideological opponents and thus strike terror and revenge instead of abiding by the established rule of law and fulfilling constitutional prerogatives.
During the past one year of PMLN’s government, the electricity generation has certainly improved. The economy that was almost in shambles is showing healthy signs. There is mega plan to build highways, link roads, dams and industrial estates, to recast the moribund railway system and so on. 
What else could one expect in one year? Mian Nawaz Sharif is trying to find a way out of a dark jungle of innumerable bottlenecks and detours and thus far he has been on the right track.
Among the eight agreements signed between China and Pakistan, one is the US $18 billion project to build a road and rail track, including string of tunnels in the mountainous track passing over a height 4,693 meters to be used as part of the Pakistan-China Economic corridor. This project alone would be a giant leap for an unprecedented economic uplift for Pakistan.
The PMLN government is trying a peaceful option to tame the unbridled murderous bands of Taliban with the use of force option kept open. The armed forces for the first time have cordial working relationship with the PMLN dispensation. It is a delightful development that would stand in good stead for a strong and stable Pakistan.
So let the politicians set aside their undue political penchant for fresh elections and instead bear with the present government to fulfill its mandate. The opposition politicians and parties should give enough time pace to the ongoing government to honor her pledges made to the people of Pakistan and to implement its plans for a great Pakistan. 
The incumbent government would have done her job if it can bring peace within the country and without, if the quality of life improves, civic amenities abound, social evils are nabbed, and crime and mafias are liquidated and it presents the model of a clean government.
If it cannot deliver let it be dethroned in the next elections. Let us learn a lesson from the neighboring India where political democratic culture is so firmly embedded that a kind of pariah in politics and an extremist BJP leader Narendra Modi can be chosen by the people discarding the Congress that has been ruling the roost for most of the time after 1947.
Such is the power of the electorate and that power should be allowed to be unleashed in Pakistan during the next elections. Pakistan cannot afford a military intervention any more. If that bleak development takes place then the entire responsibility would devolve on Imran Khan and his cabal and the opportunistic political outfits.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Hinduism as I understand it

May 15, 2014
By Saeed Qureshi
Unlike the main three Abrahamic religions rooted in history, Hinduism is based on mythology. Hinduism has no founder as Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, Judaism and many other religions have. It evolved with the passage of time spawning thousands of years. We know its place of birth is India or Hindustan. It did not evolve in one day or on a specific date. It is utterly difficult to fathom how old this religion is as the ancient history has no record about the civilizations coming into being or when the humans imbibed religions with a belief in a deity, lord or God that rules the universe.
Although Hinduism is reckoned to have a colossal pantheon of 330 million gods or deities, yet all these gods are said to be various manifestations of one God Brahman, Brahm, OM or AUM. As such despite being labeled as polygamous the Hindu religion is claimed to be a monotheistic religion. This contention comes closer to what some of the Muslim philosophers interpreted God with countless unfolding manifestations in the universe including the planet earth.
For instance Ibne-Arabi one of the most influential Muslim thinkers said that God manifests himself in everything that exists. Even man’s free will or even evil is a manifestation of certain law as these have their being in God. The glaring difference between Hinduism and Islam is that while in Hinduism every God is endowed with specific powers, in Islam all the powers are vested in one God.
Let us now delve into the fundamental beliefs of Hinduism and it sacred books and how this religion is practiced or what are its main gods, rituals and beliefs. Out of countless lot of deities and gods three gods are most revered and prominent in Hinduism. These are Brahma, Vishnu and Siva.  As a group these are called Trimurti or triad. Brahma is the creator, Vishnu is the preserver and Siva is the destroyer.
These gods have their wives as well. Brahma’s wife is Saraswati (the goddess of knowledge), Vishnu’s wife is Lakshmi. Siva has two wives. His first wife Sati committed suicide or became Suttee.  Siva’s second wife has two forms. In her kind form she is called Parvati, Uma, Gori and Golden One.  Her fearsome name is Durga or Kali. These three elite gods have their off springs and children as well. Another popular god Ganesha (elephant) or Ganpati is one of the sons of Siva.
The oldest Hindu sacred books are called Vedas. These are books of prayers and hymns and are four in number. Their names are Rig-veda, Sam-veda, Yajur Veda and Athar –Veda. The other books that were later written were Brahmanas and the Upanishads. The Brahmanas contain details of rituals and sacrifices while Upanishads describe Hindu philosophy of thought and actions, which means fundamental beliefs and perceptions.
The third category of Hindu books is called Puranas. These are stories of mythical Hindu gods and heroes. The famous stories of Ramayana and Mahabharata are part of Puranas epic literature. Ramayana is the story of Ramchandra who is believed to be the seventh reincarnated saint of god Vishnu. Bhagavad-Gita another popular legend is included in Mahabharata. It narrates a philosophical conversation between lord Krishna and his close friend Arjuna.
The Vedas, Brahmanas and the Upanishads are considered to be divinely revealed scriptures. However, the epics and Puranas collectively known as Manu Smriti are the humanly composed writings that define and describe in details the religious and social laws including the caste system.
The deep-rooted caste system in Hindu society is derived from a hymn of Rig Veda that divides the human body into four parts. But this human body is that of Purusha the original father figure of mankind. These four parts are mouth, arms, thighs and feet. The top most part that is mouth are the Brahmans, the arms are Kshatriya or the warrior caste, the thighs are symbols of Vaish caste(merchant class) and the feet are for the Sudras, untouchables or the lowest caste.
The belief in an immortal soul is central to Hinduism. This belief is integrated with the concept of Karma which means that the present state in life of a person is the result of the deeds of the former existence. The soul goes through an unspecified cycles of transmigrations or reincarnations and when completely purified of sins it unites with the supreme reality Brahm or creator of the universe. This unity or immersion means the liberation of soul from the embodied existence and is termed Mukti or Moksha or salvation.
In Hinduism a soul can survive and exists in human bodies through a cycle of reincarnations. In Islam the souls leaves the body and goes to a place called purgatory. It would rejoin the body on the Day of Judgment and the dead man would come to life again. In Christianity the soul and body remain together during the death which it terms as sleeping. In Judaism the soul leaves the body and would reenter it at a specified point of time.
Hinduism essentially comprises numerous rituals, gods, myths, legends, and festivals. The legends and myths about the past gods and heroes like Krishna and Rama originate from the ancient sacred books written several thousand years before the Christ. The rituals such as putting a Tilk or pigment on the forehead, taking a bath every morning, going to temples to offer food mostly fruits to gods, taking bath in river Ganges( Ganga in local language) have evolved during the development of Hindu religion over a prolonged period of time in ancient India.
Among the priestly class there are swamis (spiritual guide), pundits (ritual leader), Sadhus (saint), mahants (holy men), and Gurus (spiritual guide) who pray and explain and perform intricate rituals like marriage, making sacrifices, birth and death.
According to Hinduism’s mythology there are four ways of attaining liberation of soul or technically Moksha. These are in fact various postures that one can adopt to have a spiritual link with what in Hinduism is termed as the ultimate truth or OM. These postures are Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Bakti Yoga and Raja Yoga. For performing these Yogas, a common Hindu devotee has to seek help from the trained and professional religious Gurus or Pundits.
The veneration of animals particularly cow, ape and elephant and letting them squat anywhere on the roads, paths and squares gives striking contrast when compared with the  appalling treatment meted out to the  human beings called Dalit or untouchables. While the animals are worshiped as deities and enjoy the uninhibited liberty of movement and are devotionally fed, the sudras or Shudras as the members of the lowest caste are segregated, degraded and treated as scum of the earth.
These Dalit are so miserable even in modern era that they cannot eat, sit, socialize, marry with other classes nor can they undertake good jobs permissible to other three castes. Their occupation is confined to such repugnant tasks as sweeping, cleaning lavatories, burning the dead bodies and carrying human excretion from homes.
 Even in present day India a person is bound in a rigid class system and for him or her there is never a wayout. The word for caste in Sanskrit is Varna which means color. So primarily in India, the caste system is based upon the color of the people. The darker ones or Dravidian origin who are destined to be in the lower caste. The first thee castes being of Aryan origin are fair colored and thus enjoy a privileged position.
The caste system is determined by karma which means that a person’s status was already determined because of a prior existence. As a result of this belief millions of people in India are locked into perpetual poverty, injustice, wretchedness and hatred. It is indeed a painful dilemma for the world at large to watch the insidious dichotomy that while a section of human beings is utterly degraded and treated contemptuously, the animals are revered and worshiped.
The elephant god or Ganesha is one of the most favorite gods for being a remover of obstacles. Now the veneration for elephant god stems from the myth that when Ramchandra entered Lanka to defeat Ravan, he was riding on the elephant. The Ape god is venerated because he led Ram to Lanka and cow is sacred because during his stay in exile for 14 years, Ram Chandra was drinking its milk to sustain. Such are the queer dimensions of Hindu mythology. I am not aware why snake is worshiped as a god.
River Ganges is another highly sacred god. There is common belief in Hinduism that it previously existed as the Milky Way in the heavens. There are various detailed and complex versions as to how it descended upon earth. One of the miraculous influence as described in Brahmaputra is that” that those who bathe devoutly once in the pure currents of the Ganga, their tribes are protected by her for hundreds of thousands from dangers”
There are two fundamental beliefs in Hinduism. One is Samsara (transmigration of an imperishable soul). The other is Karma that implies that good or bad deeds of a former existence are responsible for one’s present state good or bad. Now the belief in Ganges’s miracle of purifying all the sins contradicts the belief that the human soul is trapped into a cycle of reincarnation until it is purified and joins the creator of the universe i.e. Brahm, the supreme all pervasive entity of the universe.
When compared, the two statements, it appears that bathing in Ganga cuts short that agonizing cycle of births and rebirths. As such the previous state of a migrating soul may not influence someone’s present state which is what the doctrine of reincarnation is all about. Since it is the wish of every Hindu to bathe in Ganga once at least in life he or she is purified from all evils and thus his soul is ready to be liberated from the unremitting cycle of transmigration and thus after death instead of entering another body, should rejoin the Om or Brahm. This belief patently demolishes the very foundation of transmigration and reincarnation dogma. 
Sex is an integral part of Hindu religious beliefs. Siva is revered as the god of fertility and the god of the phallus or lingham. Siva’s sex organ or linga is worshiped where both vulva and lingham are seen attached to each other. Hindu scriptures are replete with sex allusions, sexual symbolism and eroticism. The temples display sexual poses and obscene scenes and glimpses of ritual intercourse, and sex worship. The sexual life of god Krishna and its exposure has been widely and profusely illustrated.  He is seen surrounded by pretty gopis or female devotees.
One can find the pictorial scenes of Hindu gods and rishis (sages) engaged in sex with beautiful women and devdasis (slave girls dedicated to the temples) on temple walls. In one of the statues, Siva the god of fertility is inside one lingham and has four heads around in another. The representations of phallus, vulva and pregnant female figurines have been found during the archaeological excavations in Taxila and other ruins in India.




Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A Befitting Celebration of Mother’s Day in Dallas

May 13, 2014
By Saeed Qureshi

Our dear and soft spoken friend Javed Samuel Gill and his remarkable family invited their friends and well wishers to a magnificent evening to celebrate the Mother’s Day on May 11 at Shamianah restaurant in Plano region. I am writing to applause and compliment this exceptionally sociable and cordial family for observing this great day to honor and remember our mothers whether alive or deceased for their boundless love and care they proffer to their children. 

Although the Mother’s Day is a western social event yet it is one of the most laudable days that every race and religion ought to cherish and observe every year.

 It was a solemn evening bathed in a galore of music, poetry and thoughtful yet moving speeches about the divine profile of a mother that is also a creator like God: the lord of the universe. The figure of mother comes before us as an embodiment of unstinting sacrifice, ideal love and absolute dedication of her life for the well being of her children. 

Although God in his infinite mercy loves mankind yet God also punishes the deviant and sinners among the human-beings. But a mother would not even think of inflicting any harm on her children no matter how disobedient and unworthy they might be.

 We have yet to come across any literature or folklore that may have reviled or discounted mother. The succeeding thinkers, writers, academic,  prophets, seers, saints, kings, high and low, rich and poor everyone have been full of respectful praise and profound honor for mother; a figure so adorable and so blissful. 

We the ordinary mortals too are the sons and daughters of mothers who might have been poor and in rags but who fed us not only with the milk of human kindness but in real sense as well.

A mother would sleep without a sheet in biting winter but would cover her infant child to save him or her from the cold. She would not eat herself but would spare the piece of borrowed bread from the neighbors for the child. 

The sacrifices and affection of a mother is beyond the grip of a pen and the best of orator and an eloquent writer because her love infinitely transcends and outpaces every other love in this material world. A mother would rather embrace death to save her child. Such is the   priceless quality and sterling character of her abiding love.

 The above narrative was a willful or conscious digression from the main theme of reporting about that memorable evening that was dedicated to a mother who is like a human picture or glorious glimpse of almighty God. But let us now proceed to unfold how the Mother’s Day was celebrated with characteristic dignity, sober solemnity and commendable decorum in Dallas.

was a most pleasant evening that the guests had thoroughly enjoyed and perhaps look forward to a similar celebration next year, again to be hosted by Javed Samuel and his illustrious family consisting of himself, his wife Iram, his son Bakhtawar and his young daughter Suman. It is a fantastic family and I would wish you meet them.

This wonderful family plays harmonium, Tabla and Sitar and musical instruments with absolute finesse and skillfulness. Bakhtawar is an expert in Tabla, Iram plays Sitar and Javed himself can play both Tabla and harmonium. They play these musical instruments in the church as part of weekly service.

The poets in that graceful gathering recited their Kalam (composed poetry) paying glowing tributes to mother and highlighted her attributes as symbol of love and dedication. There were singers and lyricists who sang to glorify this unique yet lovely social assemblage.

The children too expressed their sentiments rather emotionally for their mothers who brought them up against odds and difficulties. The children’s’ presentation was touching and emotive.

Let me conclude by highlighting the dinner served. Perhaps without exaggeration it was fresh, fantastic and delicious assortment of various Desi (not western) dishes. It was one of those sumptuous feasts that one tends to remember for a pretty long time.

Let me now mention a pleasantly redeeming happening of this special evening. An iconic personage Saghier Ahmed Jafri and his distinguished wife and famous poetess Sahiba Saba had also come to grace this distinctive evening. This couple has been serving the cause of promotion of Urdu poetry and literature with exuberant passion and utter dedication for decades. 

They have a blog ‘Urdu Manzil” that carries a treasure of information about the Mushairas and literary activities sponsored and patronized by this graceful couple for decades. They recited their captivating poetry  that was warmly appreciated and reciprocated by the audience.