Shaam-e-Ghareeban: Parveen Shakir's poetic rendition of Karbala incident

It is a misconception that it is only love poetry which Parveen Shakir has composed

Ghaneem ki sarhadon ke andar

Zameen-e-NaMehrban pe jungle ke paas hi

Shaam par chuki thi

It is not a coincidence that Hazrat Imam Hussain sacrificed his life in the name of Islam on a dry patch of land, but he, his friends and his family were forced to stay in such an area as was instructed by Yazid whose army barred the way of Hazrat Imam Hussain and his followers while they were travelling to Kufa. Parveen Shakir’s Jungle points to the irony that nearby the merciless land of Karbala, called so because of being waterless, there were ‘green trees’, ‘date palms’ and ‘pomegranate groves’. (Begum Naz, Imam Hussain and The Tragedy of Karbala)

That Karbala is termed as ‘Zameen-e-NaMehrban’ (Merciless Land) can be taken both literally and figuratively, in a former way due to its state discussed above, and figuratively owing to the fact that it piled up one by one on its breast, the martyred bodies of the Holy Prophet (PBUH)’s generation, including one of the only son left of his daughter Fatima.

Hawa mein kacche gulaab jalne ki kaifiat hai

Aur un shagoofon ki sabz khushboo

Jo apni nau-kheziyon ki pehli rut’on mein

Ra-naai-e-saleeb-khizaan bane

Apart from many youngsters who gave away their lives in this battle such as Qasim, the son of Hazrat Imam Hassan, a new-born baby of Imam Hussain who was conceived in one of the tents during the battle also gave away his life. The father had just held the baby in his hands when an arrow came piercing through the infant’s throat.

Jaley hue raakh khaymon se kuch khule hue sar

Ridaa-e-Iffat urhaane waale bareeda bazoo ko dhoondte hain….

……..Barhana sar beebiyan

Hawaon mein sookhe patton ki sarsaraahat par chonk uth’ti hain

After Imam Hussain was martyred, the enemy entered the tents in which the children and women of his family were staying, and robbed them of everything, including their head-coverings and the little jewellery they possessed. The blankets which covered the women of the family were snatched. The family was put in chains and forced to travel to Kufa without the women having any cloth to cover their heads. ‘Ridaa-e-Iffat’ refers to the covering of respect and ‘Barhana Sar’ means bare heads. While these verses describe the atrocities perpetrated on the women of Imam Hussain’s family, it also hints at the fact that Imam’s left arm was cut off. The word ‘Bareeda’ often used as a suffix with the word ‘Dum’ (Tail) to give the meaning ‘Dock-tailed’ has been attached with ‘Bazoo’ (Arm) to tell how he was left with only one arm, and that one arm was what his women looked for so that their heads could be covered and their chastity be preserved. Another poem by Parveen Shakir describes the condition of Hazrat Zainab while walking towards Kufa. A few of its verses go like this:

Kufa-e-Ishq Mein

Meri be-chaargi

Apne baalon se chehra chupaaye hue

Hath baandhe hue

Sar jhukaaye hue……..

These few verses, although written in a generalised manner, prove the oft-quoted fact that Bibi Zainab, after being deprived of her Hijaab, had to cover her face with her hair.

Moving back to the previous poem, Shaam-e-Ghareeban, we are presented with another picture in the ending verses.

Chamakte naizon pe saare pyaaron ke sar saje hain

After Imam Hussain’s head was chopped off, it was put on a spear by his murderer San’an Bin Ans who also yelled hysterically and showed a triumphant attitude after having committed a heinous act.

The poem, a few verses of which have been incorporated in this article is titled Shaam-e-Ghareeban. The evening when Imam Hussain was martyred and his family was left in hunger and poverty is termed as Shaam-e-Ghareeban. This poem has been included in Parveen Shakir’s book Sadd Barg. The other poem referred to follows this poem, and thus Sadd Barg becomes a book which refutes the fact that this female poetess has written on the theme of romance only. It is a misconception that it is only love poetry which Parveen Shakir has composed. A thorough study of her works acquaints us with the fact that no historical event and no aspect of life has gone unnoticed by her.

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