‘Zehra Apa ke Saath Saath’ was one of those two sessions that were specified for the Urdu Literature during the 5th Lahore Literary Festival (LLF) that was held at Faletti’s Hotel on Saturday. The session was arranged in the honour of one of the giants of Urdu literature, Zehra Nigah, who has been contributing to the literature for over half a century. Zehra Nigah, a prolific writer and poet, got prominence in the arena of literature during the 1950s when it was truly dominated by men. Hailing from the family of writers and artists, Nigah was conferred upon the pride of performance award in 2006.
Moderated by one of the greatest historians, Arfa Sayeda Zehra—who also has a command over Urdu literature—the session left the audience spellbound because of the poetry recited by Nigah and the way she spoke on the occasion.
“The youth of this country must attach them with the soil of this land,” she said, adding that both boys and girls hailing from the youth used to come to The Second Floor (T2F) café in Karachi, and they were eager to know the history and culture of their land. “It does not matter whether you are studying in English medium elite school or a public sector school. Because I have noticed students of elite schools often asking me questions about the civilisation of this land as the true history of Pakistan cannot be read in our course books,” she said.
Speaking on the occasion, Zehra Nigah said that politics of this country has been marred by nepotism, whereas the poetry and literature have been affected by commercialism. “One suicide blast is enough to change the whole scenario within minutes. The dust and smoke from every blast changes the picture. And then comes the condemnation statements from the politicians, and the scene is changed once again,” she lamented in a poetic manner.
According to Zehra, such festivals—having the taste of art and literature—are the only hope left for us in the prevailing scenario. “These literary festivals are the beacons of hope for our youth, and I also feel younger while visiting such events,” said Zehra, who is currently 79.
She also recited some of her masterpieces and received a standing ovation from the audience. Her poem ‘Suna hy jungle ka bhi koi qanoon hota hy’ received huge acclaim from the audience as it was best suited to the prevailing scenario. She recited some other masterpieces—including Samjhotay ki Chadar and Mein Bach Gayi Maan—and there was nobody left in the hall without giving her a huge round of applause. Zehra said on the occasion that poetry is created when a person fights with himself, and the oratory takes place when one fights with the other.