FROM RUSSIA – Two loves of Faiz Ahmed Faiz


Don’t ask me for the love I once gave you, my love
I had thought if I had you, life would shine eternally on me
There are other heartaches in the world than those of love
There is happiness other than the joy of union
In every corner are bodies sold in the market
Covered in dust, bathed in blood
Still returns my haze in that direction, what can be done
Even now your beauty is tantalizing, but what can be done
Don’t ask me for the love I once gave you, my love
The passage above, from one of the most famous poems written by Faiz Ahmed Faiz, sounded at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow at a concert dedicated to the 100th birth anniversary of South Asia’s outstanding poet.
The poem is a reflection of the essence and the two main themes of Faiz’s poetry – love and civic duty, said the head of the Pakistani delegation Iftikhar Arif, the director of the Agency for the Development of the National Language sponsored by the government of Pakistan.
Arif argued that many well-known poems by Faiz were written in Moscow. Faiz came here many times and knew Moscow very well. In 1962, Faiz, a fighter against wars, injustice, oppression and violence, was awarded an International Lenin Peace Prize – an honour also conferred on the great Pablo Neruda. Faiz loved Moscow and had a lot of friends here who were well-known men-of-letters. Poems by Faiz Ahmed Faiz were published in this country many times. Well-known poets and translators, such as Rimma Kazakova, Mikhail Isakovsky, Alexander Surkov, Boris Slutsky and Rasul Gamzatov translated his poems into Russian and other languages of the former USSR.
A new book of his poems has been published this year to mark the 100th anniversary of the remarkable Pakistani poet’s birth. The book was compiled by Ludmila Vasilieva, a leading Russian student of Faiz’s creative work. She accompanied the poet in his travels in this country as a translator. Ludmila Vasilieva’s biography of Faiz has been highly praised by his Russian fans and Pakistani friends and colleagues.
Ludmila Vasilieva says that Faiz’s fans call him a “Magician of Words” and that they are equally fascinated by his sonorous civic verse and his heartfelt love poetry. Faiz’s work is characterized by humanism and trust in people, sincere emotions, deep thoughts and sympathy with “world’s grief” which was always very close to the poet’s heart. Our contemporaries read poems by Faiz Ahmed Faiz. These readers are people of the senior generation who remember Faiz’s visits to the USSR, university students who learn Hindustani languages in Russia and even school pupils making their first steps in learning these languages.
Students of Moscow school No 19, where Hindi is taught, were among those who prepared for Faiz’s birth anniversary celebrations with great sense of responsibility. The children wonderfully cited Faiz’s well-known poem dedicated to one of his two daughters, Muniza. Muniza and her elder sister Salima had come to Moscow to celebrate the 100th anniversary of their father’s birth. They were touched by how the Moscow children cited the poem. Moniza narrated that Faiz wrote the poem for her eighth birthday. She had been looking forward to a doll and was very disappointed to have a poem instead. She realized the real value of the gift only years later.
The poem “To Moniza” is included in all compilations of selected poems by Faiz Ahmed Faiz. Faiz dedicated a tender poem to his daughter and she made a very interesting documentary film about the life and struggle of the poet much loved by many generations of Pakistanis and Indians. Well-known literary critic and publicist Zahida Hina also came to Moscow for the celebrations. Together with leading Russian experts in Pakistani literature and languages Vyacheslav Belokrinitsky, Irina Serenko and Natalia Mitrokhina, she took part in a round-table discussion dedicated to Faiz.
The participants in the round-table discussion pointed out the positive trends that developed in Russian-Pakistani relations in recent years. The leaders of the two countries met at international forums in Russia and other countries more than once and spoke in favour of expanding our bilateral cooperation. The public and cultural figures of both countries share these intentions. The Moscow celebrations of the 100th anniversary of Urdu classical poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz were completed with a traditional mushaira, or poetry readings. Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s civic and love poems, which belong to the golden fund of Pakistani and world poetry, were cited during the mushaira by students of the Institute of Asian and African Studies at Moscow University and Moscow State Institute of International Relations.
Russian researchers study Pakistani literature, economy and culture. Last year a conference of Pakistani listeners to “The Voice of Russia” was held in the Russian Cultural Centre in Karachi. It was given extensive coverage in the Pakistani media. Today programmes in Urdu for Pakistan are broadcast on short waves on the frequency of 11630, 9885, 7350, 5900-KB and in digital format on the frequency of 7340-DRM from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. (UTC). Broadcasting in Urdu is also available on the Internet site The most popular headings with listeners are The World of Youth, The Listeners’ Club, The Week’s Mail, The Muslim Hour and Problems, People, Events.