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What was it like living with poet Jaun Elia? We can now find out

What was it like living with poet Jaun Elia? We can now find out

The book on the poet, written through the eyes of his niece, is out
21 May, 2016

A book on the life of distinguished poet Jaun Elia titled Chacha Jaun written by his niece Shahana Raees Elia was launched at the Arts Council on Friday.

Dr Pirzada Qasim, who presided over the event, said the fact that a lot of people had turned up for the launch meant the book was a success. He said the author was a talented woman which signified that she belonged to a family that was inclined to erudition and scholarly pursuits. He said the identity of her father, uncle and grandfather had to do with wisdom and knowledge, and since she also came from that tradition, it put a great deal of responsibility on her. He claimed that Shahana had penned the book in beautiful prose.

Dr Qasim said though the book was in the market, a great deal still needed to be written. He agreed with a previous speaker that an important part of Jaun Elia’s poetry had not been discussed as he was more known for that part of his poetry which was romantic or readily comprehensible. He said it was in 1957 that he got to know Jaun for the first time when he took part in a mushaira (poetry symposium). He said Jaun impressed everyone with his nazm. He said there were peaks and troughs in the poet’s life which was why for a certain period he disappeared from the literary horizon. Subsequently, he said, Salim Jaffery and he (Qasim) thought that it’s time for Jaun to get back ‘in’. As a result, he participated in the famous Dubai mushairas, one of which was held in his honour, he said.

Prof Sahar Ansari said the book was a testimony to Jaun’s life given by someone that was from his family. He said the narrative of the book was such that the author was addressing the poet, sometimes it tended to read like an epistolary communication, sometimes like a monologue and sometimes a conversation. He said doing that the culture of Amroha had been painted. He said the narrative also talked about the vicissitude of time.

Prof Ansari said the style that the writer had employed to give air to her thoughts reminded him of two examples: one was Farhatullah Baig’s story of Nazir Ahmed and the other Ismat Chughtai’s Dozakh. He said the book presented Jaun both with his positive and negative influences, which helped the reader understand the kind of relationships that the family members had. He said Jaun was an extremely serious person who knew the different aspects of life in depth but had camouflaged his personality. He said there was malaal (resentment or dejection) in him which enveloped his self. In that context he quoted his short piece:

Kis ko fursat ke mujh se bahs karey Aur sabit karey ke mera wujood Zindagi ke liyey zaroori hai [Who has the time to argue with me And prove that my existence Is essential to life]

He said the author had touched upon this malaal with intelligence. He lamented that Jaun was known for ghazals and nazms that were easily understandable but he was a far greater poet than that.

The writer of the book, Shahana Raees, said her grandfather, father and other uncles were sweet and gentle individuals but for some odd reason Jaun was a bitter person. She said he would never mind when she would point that out to him.

Aqeel Abbas Jafri went down memory lane when he was first introduced to Jaun through Anwar Shaoor.

Artist Shahid Rassam said reading the book made him realise that pain followed for generations.

Mubashir Ali Zaidi said, unlike speakers at book launches, he had read the book and was not sure whether to praise or criticise it. He also read out his article that he wrote about the book published on a website.

Qaisar Munawwar conducted the programme. He was wise enough to point out that a couple of speakers spoke more about their relationship with Jaun Elia than highlighting the salient features of the book.


Originally published in Dawn, May 21st, 2016