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Akhtar Hussain Jafry
--: Biography of Akhtar Hussain Jafry :--

 Akhtar Hussain Jafry 


Creative man may be the one who paints on canvas or creates a piece of art in the shape of a literary


writing. He decorates his writing with ornamental words, which convey his point of view. He creates


things in collaboration with his creative talent and style, which he adopts as a technique of expression.


He also makes his poetic system, which tries to find different symbols, metaphors, paradoxes, and


sometimes riddles, to give meaning to his thought, emotions or experiences. If we look at the history


of Urdu poetry, we would see great men like Mir Taqi Mir, Mirza Ghalib and Allama Iqbal, who


explored new worlds in poetry and contributed works, which became classical. Similarly Faiz Ahmad


Faiz, Noon Meem Rashed, Majeed Amjad and Nasir Kazmi made efforts to introduce new trends in


Urdu poetry. They made a bridge of harmony between the classical and modern sensibility in poetry. 


Akhtar Hussain Jafri, who died in the first week of June 1992, was a dextrous poet of free verse.


Perhaps, he was one of those Pakistani poets who became famous for being candid and outspoken. He


was about sixty when he died. He did not waste time in public relationing. Andre Gide once stated, “I


judge that the successful work of art will be that which will first pass unnoticed, which will not even be


singled out…” The same was the case with Akhtar Hussain Jafri’s poetry. Although he was not too


much unknown in literary circles, but after his death it is being felt that Jafri was ignored by the critics.


Akhtar Hussain Jafri started writing poetry in the form of ghazal. He was very much inspired by our


classical poetry, Ghalib being his favourite poet. His ghazals were a beautiful combination of Persian


and Urdu traditional poetry. In 1981, when Jarfri brought out his first book Aaina Khana in the market,


it was astonishing that there was not a single ghazal included in this volume. A.H. Jafri studied in-


depth classical as well as contemporary trends in literature, which enriched his literary taste and


polished his own point of view. Besides Ghalib and Ezra Pound, he learnt from his contemporaries like


T.S. Eliot, Pablo Neruda, etc. He also wrote some critical essays, which were very much appreciated.


And, it was the same critical standards that rejected his early poetry. Thus he had to include in Aaina


Khana, things which were absolutely up to his criteria.


Another noteworthy aspect of Jafri’s works is that he never violated the sense of technique. However,


he did try to modify them. He always emphasized on the principles of poetry. He was a man of


technique and exactness. He decorated his free verse with ornamental language. Rhythm and lyrical


pace adds an additional beauty to it. But the language is not only ornamental it is also meaningful.


Saif-ud-Din Saif, commenting on Jafri’s poetry said: “Akhtar Hussain Jafri’s free verse is appreciable


because he has good language and thoughtful symbolism.” Every word that he has used reflects


different shades. The man who constructed this house of mirrors seems an extraordinary craftsman.


And, every window in this house discloses a new world. There is universality in Jafri’s world, but it is a


world, which is not easy to enter. Sometimes, one has to wait at the door to be clear by his


imaginative abstraction.


But why did he adopt a style, which left no room for communication? The obvious reason might be his


government job, which restricted him to express his views openly.


Akhtar Hussain Jafri had an independent thought. He loved human beings and wanted to see them


free. His humanism was reflected through his sensitivity towards imbalances, injustices, and


exploitation of human beings in our society. He was also conscious of the political Pandora’s box here,


which had been exploiting and humiliating the common man. 


His book Aaina Khana is about life and its different aspects. His poems Imtinah Ka Mahina, Suli Se Essa


Utray To, Ux Aur Faslay, Noha and his long poem Aaina Khana all reflect the feelings, emotions and


experiences of the poet, sometimes in softness and sometimes in a harsh manner. He was in search of


some divine truth. The past was a reliable source for him to make symbols. Water, air, moon,


morning, night, rose, clouds and mirror are some of his permanent symbols which appear again and


again in his poetry but always in a different dimension. These symbols are not fixed. That is why,


sometimes, his symbols become absurd and ambiguous.


In his poem Aaina Khana, A.H. Jafri shows the other side of the mirror and portrays those who believe


in fascism, without really being judgmental. Often, it’s said that the progressives used to write


according to the ‘directives’ but reading Akhtar Hussain Jafri’s poetry one feels that his perception of


art is very clear and he does not go beyond the limits of art. His poetry is a difference between being


progressive by nature and progressive by chance.


Many have paid tributes to the dead poet. There is no doubt that he was a veracious artist equipped


with style and thought. But, the critics whose hands are the measuring tape would only determine his


position and importance in literature. 




(published in The Nation, 1992)

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