Shackled Feet

Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Member of the Order of the British Empire, Nishan-e-Imtiaz, Lenin Peace Prize awardee, was an influential left-wing intellectual, revolutionary and one of the most regarded poets of the Urdu language, being considered four times for the Nobel Prize in poetry.

He wrote ‘Aaj baazar mein pa ba jaulan chalo’ in 1959 when he was imprisoned under Ayub Khan’s martial law. He was taken to the Lahore fort’s torture cell passing through the streets of Lahore in a horse driven cart with his fetters on.


Poem.


Aaj bāzār mein pa-ba-jauloñ na chalo

Chashm-nam jān-e-shorīda kaafī nahīñ
Tohmat-e-ishq-e-poshīda kaafī nahīñ

Aaj bāzār mein pa-ba-jauloñ na chalo

Dast-afshāñ chalo, mast o raqsāñ chalo
Khāk-bar-sar chalo, ḳhūñ-ba-dāmāñ chalo
Raah taktā hai sab shahr-e-jānāñ chalo

Un kā dam-sāz apne sivā kaun hai
Shahr-e-jānāñ meñ ab bā-safā kaun hai
Dast-e-qātil ke shāyāñ rahā kaun hai

Raḳht-e-dil bāñdh lo dil-figāro chalo
Phir hamīñ qatl ho aa.eñ yaaro chalo

Translation.

Come, lets walk today in the bazaar shackled feet
Your teary monsoon eyes, distressed soul is not enough
The allegation of love is no longer hidden
So come lets walk today in the bazaar shackled feet
Walk, swinging your arms. Walk, dancing feet
Come despite head being covered with dust, clothes being stained with blood
Come, your beloved city is waiting for you
City’s rulers and crowd of commoners
Arrows of slander and the stones of insults await you
Come despite a morning of sorrow, day of failure
Who is there for them if not you?
Who in your beloved city can still be trusted?
Who else is right for the sword of executioner?
So gather up the burdens of heart, come despite wounded heart
Let us be murdered, come my beloved.


Urdu” remains by far the most profound and expressive language of all times in subcontinent. In addition to vocabulary , Urdu poetry has also acquired its richness from Persian language. Perhaps similarities in culture and religion helped to absorb Persian traditions. The main theme of this poem is defiance against compliance and submissiveness. There is a burning desire in a confined soul to be free of restrictions exploitation and injustice. The poem’s beauty is wrapped in two parallel worlds, one where the deeply embedded agony is ready to fight all norms while the other feels so failed and distressed.

The verses reflect the pinnacle of a souls helplessness that he is even willing to face public ridicule and wrath of the powerful for his love. He no longer wishes to live in a world where love is considered as gruesome sin. He is sick and tired of the restraints and limits placed by the society and those who have power; political masters, social order, age of old traditions, the religious establishment and the society at large. The teary eyes, restive soul is a symbol of enduring the hardship in silence. Walking in bazaar (market) with shackles on, blood on sleeves and dust on head symbolizes the protest against repressive forces and exploitation of society.

The poet grieves as he knows that his truth will not prevail and that all those who would take a stand are now corrupted and he does not find a single pure soul (ba sifa). Finally he gets ready to offer the supreme sacrifice for his cause.
A poem by Faiz Ahmed Faiz followed by a beautiful rendition by Nayyara Noor remains undoubtly a masterpiece. Moves every soul, touches all hearts and remains a beckon of hope for all those who endeavour to seek justice.

Sketch.

Consent.

“21st century” age of modernity, era of self sufficiency, promoter of living on your own terms, supporter of independent lifestyle and yet remains undoubtly obscure, narrow minded and intolerant towards the word “consent

To me it is not just a word. It is a intuitive feeling. It is about having wings and the liberty to fly on your own. It is the right to breathe and yet how brazenly it is ignored in the eyes of every single soul? How come it still remains so alien?
Indian cinema may be going places, but its portrayal of women, especially in mainstream movie has been stereotypical for way too long. Along the way, it has spawned a culture of prejudice and misogyny.

With background full of melodious songs, intoxicating your senses, taking you into completely new and surreal world. As you sway your head in sheer joy in accordance with the melody you realise how disgustingly sexist are the lyrics.

Films are being sold by objectifying women. This begins with posters and goes onto “item songs” that are used to titillate viewers into watching the film. Women here are merely used as props while men portray a character full of purpose with a rugged look. “Houseful” a recent release has a song titled “chumma toh banta hai” which says “I deserve a kiss” in reference to the “hero” saving the woman. Movie “dar” a violent love story where the man is obsessed with his perceived lover, carves her name on his wrist with a knife and eventually kidnaps her to forcefully get married. Not forgetting a blockbuster hit at box office making 100’s of crores movie “ Kabir Singh” revolves around the a man child who wants to control his girlfriends life. Normalizing drug abuse, threats, yelling, shouting, snorting and drinking at work, and hence assuaging his libido with crass directness and still being labelled as a “lover”. Another movie “Raanjhanaa” portrays a character of an obsessive lover who slits his wrist amidst a crowd when the girl refuses his proposal. He later continues to stalk her and eventually kills her fiancée.

There is fine line between reflecting what is there in society, showing what misogyny is, and glorifying it. Lyrics promoting stalking, invading personal space and rationalizing toxic masculinity is something not to be accepted. It naturally raises eyebrows when failed couples are romanticised in the utmost melodramatic manner. Extravagant grandeur hides the fetid smell of forceful behaviour and patriarchy becomes a norm.

The fragile egos, misogynistic approach and narcissistic attitude is not only cattered but praised. Contradicting abusive nature with being a persistent lover is what clouds sense of judgement and perception. It strangles the idea of pure romance. Expecting your choices, your body, your emotions to be respected and taken in account should not be a dilemma but a lifestyle a norm.


I made this sketch to picture the agony and a feeling of helplessness that women go through while facing this delimma.

Womanhood.

Akhri station

MUJHE APNE JEENE KA HAQ CHAHIYE
WOH ZAMEEN JIS PE MERE QADAM TIK SAKAIN
AUR SAR PE KUSHAADA FALAK CHAHIYE
MUJHE APNE JEENE KA HAQ CHAHIYE
TU MERA PERAHAN, MAIN TERA PERAHAN
RAHBAR TU MERA, CHARAHGAR MAIN TERI
NA MAIN BAANDI KISI KI NA JAAGEER HOON
HUMNAFAS HOON TERI, HUMSAFAR HOON TERI
JIS PE MIL KAR CHALAIN WOH SARAK CHAHIYE
ROSHNI KA KHAZAANA MERI GODH HAI
MUJHKO TAALEEM DO, MUJHKO TAAZEEM DO
HAR RUKAWAT SE NIKLE GA KHUD RAASTA
MUJHKO APNE BARABAR KI TAKREEM DO
KITNI SADIYON SE MAIN DHOONDTI HOON USAY
IK WOH BASTI JAHAN MUJH SE INSAAF HO
BEYBASI AUR TASHADDUD SE YAKSAR ALAG
AIK AISI FAZA JO KE SHAFFAF HO
AINEY KO MERE AB CHAMAK CHAHIYE

To all the women belonging to different social class, status, age group and yet being united by fate. To women being subject to severe degradation and vile behaviour of society. To broken dreams, shattered confidence and lost hopes. To weeping eyes hiding their faces trying desperately to erase the suffocating memory of betrayal. To scars deeply embedded in souls, to the silent endurement of barbarism.
“ ye un aurton ke naam jinhon ne mushqilon ke agey sar jhukana nahi seekha”
A poem by Amjad Islam Amjad. Inspired by Akhri Station, written by Amna Mufti spun around the troubled lives of seven women raising question about deeply rooted social issues. Drug abuse. Domestic violence. Forced prostitution. Post traumatic stress disorder. Acid attack. Sexual assault and more.
I demand respect, a sense of worth, space for personal values, air to breathe, end to unjust heinous treatment for every woman as she is a human being too.