Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Saughaat-e-Tanhaai (The Gift of Solitude): A Must-Read for the Connoisseurs of Urdu Poetry

By Sumit Paul, New Age Islam 1 November 2022 Reviewing a book is always a very discerning task. And when it comes to reviewing a book of poetry, the creative responsibility increases manifold because the reviewer has to delve into the persona of the poet who has poured his heart out in his oeuvre. So, I'm all the more cautious and conscious while reviewing Dr Navroze Shavak Kotwal's compilation of Urdu poetry, entitled ' Saughaat-e-Tanhai ' (The Gift of Solitude). Before I discuss Dr Kotwal's exquisite poetry and his command of Urdu, I must mention that Dr Kotwal is a Bombay-based (sorry, no Mumbai) famous Parsi dentist who's a serious Urdu poet, not a dilettante. One casual reader, not au fait with Dr Kotwal's poetry might say that odds are heavily stacked against him because Parsis aren't known for their profound love for Urdu poetry and he's into dentistry to boot. But have a cursory look at his compilation and glance through a few couplets, you'll be immensely surprised by his poetic depth, imagery, choice of words and expressions. One random example is enough: Tamanna Umra Darazi Ki Hai Sabhi Ko Magar/ Hain Zinda Kaun Si Ummeed Pe, Khabar Bhi Nahin (We all long for longevity/ Yet, unsure and uncertain about the hope that makes us alive) or Kabhi Gila Tha Hum Ko Mukhtasar Zindagi Se/ Aaj Talabgaar Baithe Hain Jaane Ke Liye (Once I was unhappy about the brevity of life/ Today, I'm looking to depart). Associated with the Hindi film industry right from his childhood and mentored by Sahir and Majrooh, Dr Kotwal grew up hobnobbing with the stalwarts of Hindi cinema. He had a natural inclination for Urdu, particularly Urdu Shayari. So, he learnt how to read and write Urdu and began to write in Nastaliq script. This is indeed admirable. Unlike many Urdu 'poets', who write their Ghazals and Nazms in Devanagari, shelving the rules of poetry, Dr Kotwal mastered Urdu comprehensively and systematically learnt the nuances of Urdu language and its prosody (art of versification). Just imagine, a Parsi writing and conversing in chaste Urdu! He writes in Saughaat-e-Tanhaai, ' Mayassar Nahin Aadmi Ko Insaan Hona/Chala Hai Phir Bhi Woh Hone KO Khuda' (Man is unable to rise to the desired level/Yet, look at his audacity, he tries to become god). There's a nuanced difference between Aadmi and Insaan, both being Arabic words. Aadmi, Jo Dam Le (one who just breathes) and Insaan (derived from the Arabic word Uns; love/ full of universal love). One is instantaneously reminded of Ghalib's Sher, “Bas Ke Dushvaar Hai Har Kaam Ka Aasaan Hona..." The best thing about Dr Navroze's poetry is that he doesn't dwell upon gol-o-bulbul (flowers and nightingale) or wallow in self-pity. “Zeest Ka Dard Hai Un Ke Asha'ar Mein “(His couplets have the pain and angst of life). To comprehend all the layers of his emotions and expressions is no easy task. Elsewhere, he himself accepts this with this Misra: Itna Aasaan Bhi Nahin Pahunchna Tere Kalaam Talak (It ain't that easy to get to the recesses of my poetry). Dr Navroze is an extemporaneous poet who can pen a couplet at the drop of a hat and what he states spontaneously, becomes a couplet instantly. The old maxim that poets are born, not made applies to him in toto. Nowhere does his poetry sound laboured and ponderous. There's a kind of buttery felicity that adorns his poetry. A latitudinarian, Dr Kotwal is pained by the increasing fanaticism. His Deewan is trilingual. The couplets and ghazals are written in Devanagari, Urdu and Roman scripts. So, language is not an issue for the readers. On the flip side, there're a few errors in transliteration. Hope, these errors will be done away with when the book's subsequent editions come out. I'm sure, the connoisseurs of Urdu poetry would simply love Dr Navroze's Saughaat-e-Tanhaai. I call this book Hashmat-e-Tanhaai (Wealth and riches of Solitude). New Town Publishers, Thane, has published this magnificent book. The price is 250 rupees. ---- A regular columnist for New Age Islam, Sumit Paul is a researcher in comparative religions, with special reference to Islam. He has contributed articles to world's premier publications in several languages including Persian. URL: https://newageislam.com/books-documents/saughaat-tanhaai-solitude-connoisseurs-urdu-poetry/d/128317 New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

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