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Dawn of the Truth

Dr. Nighat Khurshid’s collection begins with a prayer portraying her tiredness
from suffering all the cruelties and atrocities that have been inflicted upon her
since ages. Her prayer registers not just her struggle but the weariness of a larger
community. This tiredness, however, does not equate to hopelessness. The
poetess invokes the Divine help to alleviate her terrible condition.
O’Allah the most majestic
Now please
Do change the season
Upon reading the entire collection, one can identify without fail the feminist
undertones of Nighat’s (the poetical name used by the poetess) poetry. She has a
very deep understanding of all the intricacies of male chauvinist politics. Even she
might have suffered and been the victim, being a working woman living and
surviving in a male-dominated society. She, therefore, sets forth to sensitize her
readers to the various issues faced by women throughout their life; her prime
subject being the South Asian woman. The poetess highlights the way girls are
suppressed and treated as inferior beings from the early years of their life as part
of an essential training for their life after marriage.
Those women who are lucky enough to be brought up differently and do not have
to undergo this ignominious training are not altogether free. They are
stereotyped and labelled as bold women who are admired in gatherings and
parties only. And renounced and looked down upon at homes.
They don’t let
Fall the shadow of
Her writings on their home
They renounce!
“What type of woman she is!”
The poetess appears quite dejected by the double standards of the society and
the callousness of the dear ones. She feels a woman has no one to turn to since
nobody treats her as an equal human being or gives her due rights to her. She is
suppressed at her parents’ home and abused by her husband. Her life is a
constant struggle and a never-ending trial. This is the fate of almost every woman
no matter how educated, talented or successful she might be.
Hence the writer wishes to move to a place where everyone is blind. Perhaps this
way she wants to break free of the gender biases that control and guide her life.
But this does not imply that she is surrendering herself before the oppressive
patriarchal structures. There are many poems in which she expresses hope of a
better tomorrow.
Darkness of your cruelty
Is about to vanish,
The black cloud of your crime
Is bound to withdraw….!
The journey of my fragrance
Is yet to be continued.
The dawn of my truth is yet to come.
Nighat has a keen observation and is well-aware of all the issues faced by the
people of the third world developing country she is residing in. She evokes the
difficulties faced by the common people on daily basis. Through her poetry, she
articulates her concern regarding the political, financial and development related
issues. Her disapproval regarding corruption and inflation is unavoidable.
Nighat, in fact, is a humanist who strongly desires that all sorts of oppression,
betrayal and falsity should come to an end. She is extremely exhausted of all the
plotting and scheming done to achieve unfair ends. The poetess dreams of a fair
and impartial world where truth stands victorious.
He will win
Even after
Telling lie
I shall lose
Even after
Speaking the truth
Will it continue?
Now it will not continue—-!
While reading her collection, a poem by Adrienne Rich “Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers”
kept trickling in my mind. That poem is about an oppressed lady who tries to seek
freedom and get rid of her fear by making tigers. The tigers she weaves are free
and walk with grace, unaffected by the men around them.
Aunt Jennifer’s tigers prance across a screen,
Bright topaz denizens of a world of green.
They do not fear the men beneath the tree;
They pace in sleek chivalric certainty.
Likewise, Nighat‘s poems are like the tigers of Aunt Jennifer. She has been able to
raise her feminine voice through her vibrating poetry using powerful imagery and
symbolism and an assertive tone. Almost all her poems manifest the various
shades of a woman living in a suppressing and subjugating society. She has
exposed the hypocrisy and repression of a society which is designed and presided
by patriarchy. Yet, however, the most powerful theme of her poetry is a woman‘s
unyielding and relentless struggle so that she could be recognized as an equal
human being. As Nighat writes:
Now I would wait
When you will return to me on my
And if you don’t come,
You will be hunted by any wolf
Tamed by you in your own forest
Of your own ferocity
Then- you shall pay the cost of
Anyone else’s choice
So, you shall perish
There will be neither your being,
Nor your worth
Yes, however, I will live
And my worth will also live.
Nighat believes it is now time for the other gender to realize the long ordeal and
pains of a woman. Woman who has been neglected since ages. Since centuries,
her name didn’t appear anywhere. She was absent from history, literature and
philosophy. All philosophers were men and ideologies were also male dominated.
Hence arose the need for a feminist movement. In fact, the feminist movement is
as old as is the gender discrimination. The main purpose of feminist movement is
to recognize woman as an equal human being. The current fourth wave of
feminism is totally against gender discrimination and is struggling for the rights of
deprived women folk.
Nighat, being a part of this wave, is trying to enrich it with her powerful poetry.
What is poetry? It is a very delicate and subtle way to express yourself. But
women folk are using it to wage their war against patriarchy. By writing novels
and stories, making paintings and singing songs, women are carving their own
path. It is strange that while patriarchy has used all kinds of means, including
violence, to subdue and enslave woman, she has been fighting against it with the
most subtle tools like netting, carving and writing poetry in the hope that one day
she might be given her due status.
I am Benazir
I am Aan Sochi
I am Raadhah
Seeta and Mary
I am Gohar Sultana
Or I am Sara Shaguftah
I am Ayesha Mumtaz
Kiran Khurshid or
Nighat Khurshid
I am the daughter of generations
Coloured in the colours
Since the start of this era
Standing in the
Witness box awaiting
For trust, for reward
Or for the further punishment.
—- —-
Zubair Ahmad
22nd March, 2021.


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