KARACHI: For the first 18 hours of her life, Sabeen Mahmud was Afshaan – till her mother, Mahenaz Mahmud, realised that in her “naiveté” she had let someone give her child a name that did not suit her. They [both parents] decided on Sabeen, she explained, when a friend suggested it and thought it sat well on their daughter.
Speaking to Dawn at an event to celebrate 42 years of Sabeen on Monday at T2F, her mother said she always wanted a daughter.
“We did not have ultrasounds in those days to find out the baby’s gender and I wanted it to be a surprise,” said Sabeen’s mother, adding that Sabeen was a lovely and no trouble baby born at 10:10 am on June 20.
“I grew up as an insecure child and did not want that for my daughter,” she said, adding that she wanted her child to be brave and confident. “We did things together, she had my love and attention but knew her boundaries. She told me several times ‘thank you for the tough love’.”
T2F’s director Marvi Mazhar said they had decided to have an open mic night in memory of Sabeen Mahmud who was shot dead in April last year.
“The idea started when people began to write poetry after Sabeen’s death last year. “In 2015, the first event at T2F after her death was a qawwali on June 20. This year we decided to have an open mic night where people could come and recite their own poetry or prose about Sabeen or read from what we have collected.”
The evening opened with a man singing Tum Kahan Ho, a song he said he had heard a few days back and had reminded him of Sabeen. He was followed by writer and activist Nuzhat Kidwai, who recited a poem dedicated to Sabeen. A voice note from a friend of Sabeen’s, Atif Tauqeer in Germany, was also heard with a recording sent from another friend titled Sabeen Mahmud Ko Salam.
A poem, Bol Ke Lab Aazad Nahi Hain, written by Hasan Mujataba, a journalist in New York, was also recited. Asad Alvi from Zabaan read prose written by a friend of Sabeen’s from Spain, titled There be dragons.
Ms Mazhar read out a short play written by her friend Farjad from Lahore titled Ek Saal. Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s Aaj Baazar Mein was read out aloud by Nirdosh, a T2F open mic night regular.
Published in Dawn, June 21th, 2016