Translation by Bani Umer
THIS is an interview between Pakistani scriptwriter, satirist, and humorist Anwar Maqsood and Faiz Ahmed Faiz, one of the most renowned Urdu poets of the 20th century. Faiz Ahmed Faiz was asked if he had any regrets in his last interview that was broadcast on television. Faiz said that he had two regrets: the first was that he could not memorize the entire Qur’an, and the second was that he wanted to play cricket but was unable to.
This interview, which I translated from Urdu to English, was conducted in cricket jargon since Faiz wanted to be a cricket player. Faiz and Anwar Maqsood have a conversation about his life using metaphors from cricket.
Anwar: Which inning, in your opinion, was your best, Faiz Sahab?
Faiz: I have played some good innings. But I can’t recall at the moment which one I liked best.
Anwar: Every good player always remembers his favorite inning.
Faiz: I played one inning to make my nation proud. It presented me with several challenges. My heart was bleeding, yet no one was able to get me out.
Anwar: Which inning was it?
Faiz: It was my second test, “Dast-e-Saba.” My best inning, in my opinion, was “Dast-e-Saba.” ( “Dast-e-Saba” is Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s second collection of poetry and it commemorates his confinement in Hyderabad jail.)
Anwar: Are you afraid of playing against fast bowling?
Faiz: I have never worn a helmet.
Anwar: Why is that?
Faiz: Breathing in an air of freedom has its own appeal. What will I gain by carrying an unwanted burden on my head?
Anwar: But you must have had opportunities to wear a helmet?
Faiz: Brother, I was a different kind of player. Do not misunderstand me.
Anwar: I have heard that you have often been clean-bowled.
Faiz: You should sometimes listen to the truth. I was always caught out. I have never been bowled out.
Anwar: Which side did you get caught out on the most often?
Faiz: Always on the right side since my left side was always strong. This was the reason I played even a right-direction ball towards the left, and in the slips, somebody always caught me out.
Anwar: Do you not play cricket as much these days?
Faiz: I am not playing any less right now, but there isn’t another player in sight. How long would I play by myself?
Anwar: Okay, tell me one thing. Why is the selection committee always against you?
Faiz: Brother, they are not opposed to me without a good reason. When a test player himself is against the selection committee, then their anger is justified.
Anwar: What do you believe is necessary for one to play a good inning?
Faiz: A pen, some paper, and a newspaper. These things must be good.
Anwar: Do you bowl?
Faiz: I am a left-arm googly bowler.
Anwar: How are you as a fielder?
Faiz: I am a very good fielder, but I have missed so many fours.
Anwar: Why is that?
Faiz: The issue is that I can not bend down.
Anwar: When are you playing your benefit match?
Faiz: Why should I play any benefit match? I am fit.
Anwar: How many matches have you won so far?
Faiz: My matches are not about winning and losing. Who cares about winning or losing if the match is good? All accolades if I win, but even if I lose, I don’t dwell on it.
Anwar: What are your plans for the future?
Faiz: I’m preparing to play in the hereafter now.
Anwar: So early? There are still numerous games left for you to play.
Faiz: Brother, have played enough without reason!
Anwar: Isn’t it premature to make such a claim?
Faiz: Fikr-e-sood-o-jiyaan to chhootegi
Minnat-e-een-o-aan to chhootegi
Dozakh mein khair mai mile na mile
Shaikh sahab se jaan to chhootegi
I shall be free
from the vexations of loss and gain
I shall be free
from the need to please, from fame.
and whether or not
there is wine in hell,
I shall be free, at least
of the reverend’s spell. ( Translation© Mustansir Dalvi)
Bani Umer is a research scholar at the University of Delhi and can be mailed at [email protected]
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