Let your passions play

Patna hosted a grand mushaira (Urdu poetry recital) recently. Big names of Urdu poetry were among the poets who had come from various cities to read out poetry. The poetry was refined and subtle, upholding the highest traditions of Urdu poetry. I had heard some of the poets who came to the mushaira earlier. I was expecting outstanding poetry and was not disappointed. But it was the audience that belied my expectations.

 The auditorium was packed with people. The spontaneous and robust daad (appreciation) showered on the poets by the audience showed that it had the maturity to understand the nuances of sublime and elevated Urdu poetry. And the
was delivered the way it is traditionally done in a mushaira – with intensity, ardour and elegance which match the flavour of the poetry.

If the mushaira had not been held in Patna that evening, those who took part in it would not have missed it. The poets would not have missed it because real poets, the kind which graced the mushaira, write poetry for the sake of it and not for recital before an audience. And the audience would not have missed it because it was clear that it was an audience that enjoys poetry irrespective of whether it gets a chance to attend recitals.

Compared to the big issues the country is grappling with, this
a was quite unimportant. And the mega events the world is forced to take note of from time to time made this mushaira look like a non-event, much like life on this planet would look like on the scale of the universe. But much like we like to celebrate life on this planet and it has meaning and importance for us, the ‘non-event’ was an occasion for celebration of life for both the poets and the audience and meant a lot to them.
Nobody dies if this does not happen, but life surely becomes richer if platforms, occasions and opportunities are created where this kind of celebration of life and all that it offers
happens more often.

The world was doing fine without the Internet and there was no chance of missing it when it did not exist. But can we do without it now? Among its various offerings, it has set up platforms where people can make friends, network, chat, exchange ideas and showcase their creativity. All the energy that’s flowing through the Net was there all the time and nobody was getting harmed when the Net was not there to serve as a channel for it, but it sure is a beautiful thing to see energy getting channelled positively and creatively.

The TV competitions of dance, music and stand-up comedy serve a similar purpose. The talent was already there and had been preparing itself for years even with no signs of these shows around, and the audiences were there too, savouring their love for these art forms in their own ways. The TV shows just brought them together, and the country got to know how much talent it has and the artists came to know how huge and dedicated a following their art has. The importance of such platforms and avenues applies to many more activities that people enjoy in their own way, or would enjoy if given a chance. In many cases people are not even aware they have a talent, a special ability, a passion or a liking unless something comes up in their environment to make them discover it and enables them to nourish it.

People seem to be doing fine and not missing it, but when a park, however ordinary, comes up in a neighbourhood, it becomes a channel for the energy of joggers, walkers and riotous children. A gym comes up and I wonder what all the fitness freaks and body builders sweating it out there would have done without it. But till it comes up, all the energy working itself out in the gym with utter sincerity does fine. A cyber cafe shows how much chatting, mailing and surfing mean to some people. Don’t open it and all the cyber-energy does okay in a latent state. Children have a great time with gully cricket, backyard football and driveway badminton, but give their locality a playfield and their sporting energy gets a better chance for expression.

The need is to have more and more chances, however modest, for the throbbing, pulsating energy of India to come out in the open and express its creativity and beauty. The chances can be big or small, but they should be there. The passions, pastimes and private love affairs of common people with their calling need to unfold and find fulfilment. Much of the action is still missing, much of the energy is still unknown and unseen and the country seems to be pulling along fine. But the bustle and buzz can surely get better. The fizz is there in all corners of the country, waiting for the corks to be pulled to come bursting out and drench our thirst for life.

Amit Shekhar is a senior journalist and columnist
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