April 1, 2015
By Saeed Qureshi
An Urdu Mushaira was recently held under the auspices of the “Urdu Ghar” being run and founded for many years by Dr. Amer Suleman. The Mushaira (poetic symposium) was in honor of a famous poetess from California Rehana Qamar intimately known to such poetic stalwarts as Nadir Durrani, Qazi Masood and other senior poets from the DFW.
A strange and rather inexplicable condition was imposed on the participating local poets through a pre-scrutiny process. Out of a whole lot of local poets only five were selected for the unique honor of presenting their poetic genius on the evening of March 27.
This pre-screening or scrutiny of the poets had been unheard of for several decades I have been teaching literature and poetry and presenting my humble verses and ghazals (odes) in countless Mushairas in Pakistan. It is done in selection jobs and assignments but not in declamation of poetry verses or declamation contests.
What was the iron-clad criterion before those individuals who chose some poets and dropped the others? What personal credentials they had to judge if a poet is good or not good or whether he or she has a criminal record or is the enemy of Urdu and lover of Punjabi or Hindi? Or else the selectors were nincompoops and biased.
The pre-screening of poets itself reflects a despicable mindset and cuts across the very perception, doctrine and mission of the Urdu Ghar. If you start discriminating between the poets for any reason and on any grounds, it smacks of personal likes and dislikes and settling scores against the rivals. Or else these authorities or individuals resorting to a tradition of vetting are doing disservice to the very cause of Urdu Ghar (House of Urdu language) it was founded for.
Should we believe that those poets barred from presenting their reflections were buffoons or fools or crazy or enemies of public peace not to be allowed to enter the arena where this “rare and unique Mushaira” was being convened?
Dr. Amer Suleman sent me a message of invitation from for participation in the Mushaira. In response I asked if I was going to read my poetry and he confirmed by writing back the word “YES”. But another message from him landed later in my cell phone directed me to get in touch with Mr. Rashid Dara who was once a president of the PSNT. Rashid Dara told me point blank that I was going to be in the Mushaira as an audience but was not allowed to read.
When requested to explain further he said that my name was not there in the list he received from the Urdu Ghar. Now I am confused that how come Rashid Dara being a technical and computer wizard was assigned the unpleasant task of telling the poets whether they were going to be called to the podium or not.
I have a straight and simple question from the founder of Urdu Ghar, “Why have you initiated this sordid tradition of pick and choose policy from among the poets to recite or not their compositions”? And what your honored guest might have thought that we are living behind the red curtain of the communism and there was a ban on our freedom of expression and that there was a disgusting rule being applied to send out a message that Urdu Ghar is not for everyone no matter how talented and gifted poet one was.
What message you have conveyed to your illustrious and famed guest poetess that here we are living in a closed society and only those can be on the stage whom we want to be. Isn't the negation of the mission you stand for and isn't it stinking?
And after hurting me with the diabolic disgrace you have the audacity of inviting me to the lunch at your residence. How could I face your distinguished guest who would think here is a man who was debarred from coming to the stage and despite that disgrace here he is for filling his stomach with the food of a person who cares shit for his poetic reputation and glowing literary background? It was like rubbing salt on the wounds.
So now I believe and it is my considered opinion that your, Urdu Ghar” is a hoax and a fake institution that though my be promoting Urdu but was influenced by petty considerations like race and personal preferences of some of your members of the executive body. I also guess that the old actors are back and thus this is the first demonstration of their conspiratorial mentality they have once again displayed.
You personally are a very decent and laudable person. May God save you from the sleazy characters around you who would get this prestigious house closed by their dirty designs. No doubt Urdu Ghar has been serving the noble cause of promotion of our national language? May God have mercy on you Dr. Suleman as because of your sincerity, simplicity and even innocence you are carried away by the dictations of others and do not have a faith in your personal opinion in making decisions. Amen!
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