29 July, 2021

A Poet’s Diversions Around A Pothole

A gimlet-eyed Gulzar deals with intolerance, a gloating media, persistent injustices, and a failed national project. All are skewered in startling imagery.

Photograph by Fotocorp
A Poet’s Diversions Around A Pothole

“Will there be poetry in bad times,” asked Bert­olt Brecht, and answered it himself: “Yes, poe­try about bad times”. I first thought Gulzar must have had his own ideas  of the aesthetics of poetry in mind when he named his new collection  Suspected Poems (Mashqooq Nazmein, in his own Urdu version) as the poems here are all political, even if subtly—as it should be with poetry—unlike the majority of his earlier poems that dealt with the beauty of nature and with the paradoxes of the human condition. His dedication (“for the promised times”), and his short preface, about the difficulty of speaking today, as any word you utter will easily be suspect and subjected to multiple interpretations and imputations of unintended meanings, speak volumes. He refers, for example, to the ambivalence of someone like Anupam Kher, who would inevitably answer the question, ‘kyaa matlab thaa?’ (What did you mean?), with ‘meraa vo matlab nahin thaa’ (That is not what I meant)....

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