Ibn-e-Insha (15 June 1927 – 11 January 1978) would have turned 93 today. We celebrate his birthday by curating some of his best poetry, sung by leading vocalists from India and Pakistan.
Born in Jalandhar, Punjab, on 15 June 1927, he was named Sher Mohammad Khan by his parents. Ibn-e-Insha was his pen- name; loosely translated it means Ibn, son of Insha, referring to a famous 18th century classical poet, Inshallah Khan Insha.
For the last few days, a few lines from Sahir Ludhianivi’s long poem Parchhaiyan, have been repeatedly coming back to me. A poem that I had read ever so often in my early youth and thought I had long forgotten, suddenly reappeared in a flash. Here go some of the lines (not really in the order in which they appear in the poem, but in the order in which they came to me):
चलो कि चल के सियासी मुक़ामिरों से कहें/ कि हमको जंगो-जदल के चलन से नफ़रत है
कहो कि अब कोई क़ातिल इधर अगर इधर आया/ तो हर क़दम पर ज़मीन तंग होती जाएगी
हर एक मौजे-हवा रुख़ बदल के झपटेगी…
ये खेत जाग पड़े, उठ खड़ी हुईं फ़सलें/ अब इस जगह कोई क्यारी न बेची जाएगी
[Roughly translated: Come let us tell the political gamblers/ that we hate the business of war and strife
Let us tell them that if a murderer dares to come hither/ The land will shrink with each step
Every wave of the air will turn turn against you
These fields have come alive, with the crops swaying on them
No more shall even a bed (of the field) be sold]
Though Sahir’s poem was written as a protest against war, some of these lines resonate with other, more immediately relevant matters. Ironically, Sahir was protesting against the war mongers pillaging civilain populations but here we are, with the new war mongers of our times: what else is the neo-liberal dream but that of pillage and loot of civilian populations by armed forces of civilian governments. And as they, ‘is hammam mein sab nange hain‘! [All are naked in this in this bathhouse]: From Buddhadev Bhattacharya of West Bengal to Mayawati of Uttar Pradesh – spokespersons all of the oppressed! And it makes little difference whether it is a BJP-led NDA government in power at the Centre or a Congress-led UPA.