Sunday, August 23, 2009

Waheed Allahabadi

We all have heard about Akbar Allahabadi, the great poet who went on to become a session judge in the Allahabad high court. Allahabadi used humour and satire to highlight the plight of Muslims and had his own take on the trend of Westernisation in Muslim society. His teacher was Waheed Allahabadi another poet of eminence and a resident of Allahabad.

I am not sure if there are any works of Waheed Allahabadi that is available in the market. Which is why I was thrilled to discover this website http://usmaninetwork.com/main.htm.

It apparently belongs to the family of Waheed Allahabadi who have put up some work of the poet with his photo (which I have used here) on the website. The site also has a copy of a letter written to the poet by the Viceroy of India, though it does not open completely. It will be interesting to know what the letter says.

India has produced several poets, some forgotten and many who have slipped away from the collective memory of society. It is website like these that help keep alive the memories and the work of eminent men and their contribution to the society.

If the Viceroy of India wrote a letter to Waheed Allahabadi, then he must be a man of considerable prestige and intellect of his time. Sadly, chroniclers and historians seem to have left out many such men of learning and talent, who remain lesser known even though a study of their life might throw light on several matters and issues.

I hope Urdu academicians write and research more about Waheed Allahabadi, rather then just describing him as Akbar Allahabadi's teacher. Or perhaps I need guidance by someone to any book or periodical that contain details of Waheed Allahabadi's life.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Urdu/Hindi: an artificial divide...

"Let me come down to your level and your idioms. Arey (O!) Hinduo (Hindus) learn Urdu. Pakistan is your enemy. If you don't learn your enemy's language, how will you fight them? Let me explain it to you differently. India has several million Muslims, and you say Urdu is their language. Let me explain this for a minute. Even then brothers, if you will not understand the language of such a big minority, how will you know what they are doing and what they are thinking?"

I have taken this from the book Urdu/Hindi: an artificial divide : African heritage, Mesopotamian roots, Indian culture & British colonialism by Abdul Jamil Khan. The book is a compulsory read for those interested in Hindi/Urdu.

According to the book, the above comments were made by Firaq Gorakhpuri in an interview that apparently did not come out in public domain. Firaq uttered those words referring to all those who worked towards the disappearance of Urdu from schools after the Partition.

The sad aspect in those days, and even now was/is the compartmentalisation of Urdu/Hindi with religion. For several decades Urdu was spoken and learned by the people of India, but took a backseat in later years.

One could see Urdu posters/banners in the background in many of the early Hindi black and white movies. In later years, I believe Bollywood has played a role in its own way in getting the common masses acquainted with Urdu words. The posters though are nowhere to be seen, neither in the films, nor on the streets.