Zulfiqar Ali Bhatti, A Poet of Hope and Optimism

By: Dr Mubarak Lashari

[The writer is a renowned literary figure and critic with five books onboard. Dr Lashari is currently working at Institute of English Language and Literature, University of Sindh, Jamshoro. His several research articles have also been published in international research journals.]


Poetry is a language of feelings and perceptions. It is very commonly said and recognized in the sphere of literary studies and understanding. However, there is great ideological background of this saying and much more to the poetry in the contemporary world. In the former concept, it is generally taken as the feelings of love, romance, optimistic or vice versa but usually in very personal and subjective senses. Moreover, it is commonly dragged to Romantic Movement of 18th and 19th century English poetry. Furthermore, in the contemporary critical analysis it is ideological in the sense that people, either poets or the readers, are pushed back to alienation and individualism by corporate agencies in market or publication with capitalist backs. On the other hand, feelings are there which are of great agitation and protest against the atrocities of the time and status-quo. I think, poetry is a tear and that unshed in the third world countries or evacuated colonized societies. How the life is going on and what are the shapes of their sufferings in just their survival contexts? No one can imagine. It is not the poetry then that but it is more than that idea. When we say ‘survival’ in ex-colonial and now neo-colonised societies, it means it is all about things from economy to political blur and moral to cultural distortions. Such societies are, then, still in search of their identities and existence.
In the context, when we glance into the poetries of the societies, it gives us sporadic looks to have human perception in the rain-bowed look. What to call it and how to perceive it? Definitely, there are perspectives and justifications but not the immediate solutions even to shed tears. The book, rather a nice poetry book, in hand is a great attempt to have deeper analysis in the context mentioned above in the contemporary society born out of around more than one hundred years of colonial hegemony and around more than70 years of its search for existence, identity and justification of its being today. It is evident in the couplet of Zulfiqar Bhatti written in context of Palestine as;

But they do say, children’s protest annoying,
Slogans raised for freedom blackest crime,
Without any slightest feeling of shame,
They say they do it to wash away the grime.

These lines are borrowed from the poem ‘dead conscience’ which are self-explanatory to the contemporary societies and situation depicted above. Is it not the same version of colonial justification of powers since hundreds of years? Don’t we see Palestinian plight and wrenching condition of Jammu Kashmir and such war-torn regions like Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq etc? What to say them and how can give it justification? It is only apparent scenario in these regions but what to say to implicit consequences of exploitations of the poor people. No way to give them the chocolates of succor and relief. It is because, implied and implicit consequences of human blurs or distortions from the smooth cultures and civilizations can last too long without apparently coming to naked eyes and glances. Such phenomena can be observed in Zulfiqar’s poem to ‘Dear Homeland’ which is a clear storied-depiction in poetry that is much soothing but very realistic like;

Land of Sindh, my dear homeland,
Land of love, peace and harmony
Where people knew not hatred, and
Lived with sodality ‘nd symphony
Where poets wished for all mankind

These motion pictures of depicting Sindh in the historical i.e. Indus Valley civilization go on to the point where poet feels bleeding;

Alas enchanted by devils who haunted
Ravaged all rituals healthy and humane….
We are no more on the path of the pure
Turned into viewers and watchers strand
Without warm soul and insight obscure!

Here poet sees the devil haunting the land which was the land of pure people where poets prayed for the whole heart for the world and all human beings;
سائينم سدائين ڪرين مٿي سنڌ سڪار،
دوست مٺا دلدار عالم سڀ آباد ڪرين! شاهه لطيف
O’ my Lord! Keep Sindh prosperous for all times to come and also bless the entire world with happiness and prosperity.
It was this message that inspired the poet, and people of Sindh thoroughly, which was idealized and adored. How such people and land can be wandering around for survival, identity and existence even after more than 70 years of present condition? The crises of identity after colonial and postcolonial situation created many internal and external similarly, subjective and objective question is really haunting the poet and similarly the people like him. The poet of this book is there to find the solution and remedy but there is no cure or panacea to all and sundry. What to do next? Lets get encouragement from Zulfiqar Bhatti also;
The profoundest love we crave,
And makes us bold and brave,
Is the love of motherland, dears
That waves off all our fears.
In this way, he is giving ways to his sorrows as collective wisdom for survival. Bhatti’s poetry is full of many novel ideas and perceptions. What I liked is the poetry of hope and optimism with realistic touches to many concepts. Lots of the poems are there to be recalled and quoted for analysis and interpretation. I am happy that Zulfiqar Bhatti is rising as a new voice or rather dissent voice in the scenario of silent spectra of our society in English language. We need such new voices and sane idealizers to vocalize the real gem of our civilization. We need to heir it all and own the purity or impurity of our land and culture and then fight back in the form of ideological resistance in the right way. I am very hopeful of his poetry in theme, idea and diction as unique and versatile. I felt very constrained while reading his poetry to read more and more to read and then utter something. His poetry as form of structural of experiment of forms is full of delight like he writes blank verses or rhyming verse with great rhythm and cantos to shorter poems etc with immense selection of themes. All these things can be observed in this book. I am optimistic that his poetry would prove its worth positively in our society as voice and a message for other societies as form representation to the reading world in Pakistan and abroad.

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