Biography of Muhammad Shanazar
I was born into a poverty stricken family in a village, Saib, Sub Division Gujarkhan District Rawalpindi, (The Plateau of Pothowar) on November 25,1960. We lived in a house made of stone and mud, but well maintained by my mother. I was brought up in a pastoral atmosphere very close to nature. Our village is surrounded with the thick forest which is a source fuel wood, besides grass it provides for the cattle. When spring comes and wild trees and plants blossom, the sweet scanted airs make the atmosphere heavenly. The lands around the village are uneven, but the soil is fertile, the main crops sown are groundnuts, wheat, maize, and millet, some farmers also cultivate melons. These crops are the major source of income of the farmers for they sell grain in the grain market of Gujarkhan; in the olden times camels were used to carry the produce but now it is loaded on the vehicles.
In early days of my childhood majority of the farmers was living with hand to mouth. Besides farming there was another profession that the people of the village had to choose for their sons, they got them enlisted in Pakistan Army, where they defended boundaries of the country and many of them were martyred. The plateau of Pothowar got several Nishan-e-Haider: the highest military award awarded for bravery and valour.
The village we lived in, we were the two families of Nagyal but others families were forty five; they kept us engaged in litigation turn by turn to spoil our financial resources, they might take rest but we remained constantly engaged. We never shed tears over the loss but prepared ourselves for the fresh approaching calamities. Even now when I am forty eight years old our family is still under the grip of litigation, my parents could not find justice during their lives; let us expect to find it even at the age of seventy or eighty. Still mostly our agricultural land is occupied by other families that needs blood to get it released.
The people of the village where I was born in were against to educate the women; they along with the men folk worked in the farms and saved money for their dowry by selling grain and groundnuts. They did not have liberty to choose their life partner even; they were consigned to the fate by their parents. It was considered insolence if any damsel of the village expressed her likeness or proposed to the parents for the spouse, she had to accept with silence what was decided by the elders. It was the most pathetic scene to see them walking stoopingly with the bundles of green mowed grass or the big bundles of wheat being gathered to be thrashed, upon their backs. They were the uncomplaining, forsaken patient heroines ever discovered in the history of pastoral environments.
In childhood I too collected fodder and fire wood, grazed cattle, ploughed the fields and while cutting grass and splitting wood many times I got injured myself. I can clearly recall the days of my infancy, finding around the dunghills, the cattle and ricks of fodder, I formed the opinion that it was the whole world where I came to live in. I hated dirt; when I was four or five years old, some times, I slipped stealthily out of the home and used to sweep streets of the whole village and in response I was taunted and beaten for the crime of cleaning the world.
I had a deep attachment with the pet-animals and cattle, when anyone of them died I used to remain depressed for many days, till time slackened the profundity of pain. Once we had a black dog, and we all of sudden found it missing, we all searched for it but in vain, after a week its dead body was found in the field being prepared for the crop of wheat. It happened so that one of my uncles who used to plough had forgotten to bring back a rope from the field that was used with the hooks of a plainer, and the dog had been on the watch and at last it was starved, the whole family grieved on the event as if someone dear departed from the family.
In the pastoral environment I got several experiences that show that the animals too have the feelings of pain and pleasure. Once I led my cows to the meadows to graze, often their whelps remained at home and in the evening when the mother-cows returned they were loosened to be fed with milk. It so happened that a mother-cow fell into the ditch and despite hard struggle we could not save its life and it died soon after, all the other cows returned in the evening except one that fell into the ditch and died, the other cows came around the orphan whelp and licked it with affection and when it found the mother missing, I noticed it weeping, it was shedding big, big tears onto the ground.
However, I enjoyed myself during this visionary period playing with the vivacious friends in the yards surrounded by the low walls, whom the callous tides of the time had separated from me. My parents were going through very hard times, on the first day when I was sent to the local school I was bare-footed, I had a wooden slate in my hands and a satchel on my back. I remember later on my younger brother and I were given a pair of slippers that we used to wear alternately on going and coming back from school on hot afternoons. I recall a day when I was left behind as I could not go along with the older school fellows who walked with the faster pace, I made my mind to return home but fear of punishment restrained me, so I hid myself in the bushes and when I saw the school fellows returning from the school I came back home but my elder brother complained to the mother against me who said to me nothing perhaps she thought to afford me a chance. The next morning I too played a truant from the school for fear of castigation by the teachers, I did it for a week and each time I was pardoned by my mother and at last she taught me the lesson by beating hard that I never forgot throughout my life and consequently I never absented myself during the whole educational career and professional career too; the beating of my mother showed me the route to success.
Injustice and violence, even to the animals and plants, always perturbed me. The frequent murders around the vicinity kept me in a state of frenzy and horror. The vicinity I was born cared least for human life; weeping and wailing of the women during my early childhood upon the frequent murders stunned me into a state of frenzy. The first composition was an illegible letter which I wrote at the age of six to my father who was labouring at Askardu beside the border of China: (He had a jeep and drove between Askardu and Gilgit) . The letter was about the two murders in the locality, an old man and his young son were killed by the robbers just for Rs.4000. I neither was provided with an envelope to post it, nor was told the address of my father, therefore, it remained un-posted.
I would here like to inform the readers about my father. He often told us that he was recruited by the colonial rulers when he was only 10 years old. On the day he was recruited, he wore only a shirt given by someone from the neighbourhood considering him an orphan child. After Pakistan came into being he served in Pakistan Army as a soldier, after retirement he served in GTS (Govt. Transport Service) and then he worked as a driver and drove a jeep No.103 between Askardu and Gilgit and last of all in Civil Aviation Authority at Islamabad Airport, there he served as a Turbine Operator and later on he performed his services at ATC (Air Traffic Control) .
Constant labour of my parents and other members of the family changed our financial conditions; they took more and more interest in my education, whereas my other two brothers the elder and the younger were reluctant to continue their education. After going though the primary standard at the local school I was sent to Govt. High School Mandra where I always remained at the back of the over-crowded classes to avoid the coercion exercised by the teachers upon the children. They were interested in everything except imparting knowledge to the students, even then I had a lot of regards for them, they were not scholarly teachers, they were simple and they often asked the students to bring eggs, flour, groundnuts and butter and they happily obeyed to avoid the impending punishment and set up friendly terms so that they might be promoted to the next class without being assigned any test. Once a school teacher beat a student so hard the he became unconscious, his mouth began to foam and the teacher to bring him to senses started to jump over him and he did it seven times, I could not understand the trick, latter on I knew that it was some kind of incantation that superstitious people used to bring someone to senses.
In SSC examination I got failure twice, and on the third attempt I went through with the lowest grade: I mean Third Division. Here I intend to relate a very thrilling incident that once I took my admission form to the Headmaster of the school, to get it attested, his name was Muhammad Abrahim, he rebuked and insulted me just for placing my hands on the edge of his office- table. I was hurt a lot; see how time changes and spins the circumstances. After qualifying Master in English, I was posted at Govt. Institute of Commerce Kahuta; there in an institution of a private sector, I found an opportunity to teach the students of M.A English. In the meanwhile the same headmaster Muhammad Abrahim was also transferred from Govt. High School Mandra to Govt. High School Kahuta. He was a keen learner and he intended to resume his studies in English Literature, he attended my three lectures on Shakespeare’s Hamlet, but as soon as he learned that the teacher was in fact his student, he did not come back to attend the class again.
During the stay of my father at Islamabad, he kept me along and I studied there in Rawalpindi and passed F.A, B.A, and M.A while living there at Islamabad International Airport. When I was at leisure, it was my habit to rove in front of the International Arrival or Departure and when ever I saw Englishmen or women I tried to converse with them with faulty expressions, and often I was encouraged, they made corrections and sometimes I was shunned, but the craze of learning English always gripped my mind. While living at Islamabad International Airport I planted nine poplar trees which later on grew gigantic, sky kissing, when ever I visited the spot they brought into my mind the memories of those days but they have been removed as expansion of the airport required so.
After appearing in the M.A examination, in 1983 I got myself recruited in the Police Department as a constable, if my recollection is not faulty, the number I was allotted was 1319/C. I was then sent to RPTC (Rawalpindi Police Training Centre) now changed in to a park. The training period was nine months; it was the most crucial period I had to go through. We were more than 500 hundred trainees; some came from other regions of the Punjab, Choorkana, Faisalabad Rajanpur and D.G. Khan etc. I could not forget the dismal experience that I had to go through on the very first day when we reported at the training centre. All the Drill Instructors gathered us in the large ground and the CDI (Chief Drill Instructor) instructed them to show us different places of the centre for example: Canteen, parade-ground, mess, and mosque etc. they were having in their hands sticks and belt, they began to thrash us all and led to the different spots of the centre. The instructor mercilessly chased and the recruits ran ahead, it was a painful scene, many of them fell on the ground and other ran over trampling them. After half an hour all were gasping and showing one another the injuries they had sustained. If seemed we have entered into the zones of hell and we were the most wretch creature of the world. During the training we were not allowed to eat our meals outside the centre, at noon and in the evening we were distributed the lunch and the dinner: two loaves and dal of chana (cooked gram) or some times curry of beef. We often stood in a long queue keeping our plates in hands and the cook on the turn poured the dish into plates keeping himself at the distance, but sometimes it fell onto the ground or on the clothes but we were not compensated, we had to eat what we had been given, the loaves were often burnt. Later on the instructors began to grow friendly, and they allowed us to disappear from the centre after getting Rs.50/ for each day. During this period we were tortured physically and mentally and no training was imparted to us; at the centre there was not any device or training method which could make the recruited constables good policemen or even good men. However, I befriended many recruits who proved vivacious friends and so drudgery of the period was slackened. After the training I was sent back to the district and then from the police line I was transferred to SSP office where I was assigned a job of clerical nature. Thank God, in December 1886, I was appointed Lecturer in English, in the Department of Education (Technical Wing) . After holding this position for seventeen years, I was promoted Assistant Professor in 2001, now serving at Government College of Commerce at Kahuta.
I was severely shocked on the deaths of my parents. My mother died in a road accident, my father and uncle killed one another for a disputed piece of land; differences among the brothers were created by the diabolic characters of the society, I heard their laughter of triumph on their deaths. Lot of money I earned and lot of money I spent but can not forget five hundred Rupees which were charged by a corrupt Head Constable standing beside the mutilated dead body of my father on 30th June,1990 in Tehsil Headquarters Hospital Gujarkhan. The Head Constable had been one of my colleagues and was deputed to arrange postmortem, it was the whole amount that I had with me; later on I had to borrow the money to bring back home the dead body of my father.
Since my childhood, poetry had been touching my heart. I felt soothed listening to the songs when they were broadcast. I started seriously writing poetry with specific philosophy behind it in 1998. I chose English for expressing the voice of conscience. The Government of Pakistan's Ministry of Education awarded me for promoting children's literature in Pakistan. I am the author of three books ‘i- Gems, ii-The Cold Stars iii- The Dance of Darkness’. It was my good luck that in December 2002, I found Voices Network north Carolina U.S.A, the forum evaluated my work and suggested for me the International Special Distinction “Poet in Residence” and Voices Network placed me among the great poets of the world. After recognition, I decided, to render my whole existence to bring about educational revolution in the world through poetry. In December 2007, Poemhunter: a literary international circle of France chose me one of the top 500 poets in the world, the selection was made in the supervision of Feroze Shakir: prominent cameraman and poet of Bollywood. My several poems were selected to be readout in international gatherings and processions against war along with the work of great poets. I also have been chosen one of the great poets by the Society of World’s Poets (Greece) . All this seems to me incredible. I reached here creeping through the crisis, as I experienced, “Poetry is an expression of heart piercing thoughts combined with the emotions flowing from the Greater Mind to the Receptive Mind when both function at a certain indescribable fleeting frequency. The Receptive Mind works wonders performing the task of centuries during these ephemeral moments revealing the curtained truths of the time and place in which Man exists.” So far I have written more than 250 poems a few among them are about the mind baffling realities, regarding Man's links to the extraterrestrial world, the secret working hands, the workings of the human soul, and the perception of the human mind. My poems contain enough material for the psychological study of human existence.
I am an optimist regarding the results and objectives to be obtained through poetic endeavor. The prime objective I am working for is to make humanity aware 'A single dropp of human blood possesses more worth than all treasures the Earth contains'. I firmly hope that all other members of the caravan of poetry will join the mission; let us make the world perfumed and fragrant by bringing changes into the minds, let us pick thorns, make the paths clean whereupon our children and grandchildren will walk, only a poet possesses the eyes and sees them laming with bleeding feet, if thorns are not removed. I exhort the intellectual leaders to work on uni-direction; there is no time to concentrate on the romantic, amorous feelings or existence of love when human life is under the shadow of missiles and nuclear and chemical flying dragons. Literature to create awareness among individuals, as well as nations, to protect the world, its resources, its beauties and spheres for the coming generations is the noblest deed ever demanded. There is no greater responsibility for the men of literature than to work for the collective cause irrespective of caste, creed or colour. I am of the firm belief that behind all major changes and revolutions there had been the functioning of the greater minds; if it is so, let us use the force of our powerful pens to make the world understand, 'Giving good men to the posterity is much better than hoarding gold and wealth, the cause of disruption.'
Muhammad Shanazar's Works:
ii. The Cold Stars
iii. The Dance Of Darkness
Muhammad Shanazar Poems
I wish I were a seasonal bird, That travels flying around the world, With sweet companionship of a partner, Whose heart knows nothing except,
A Deformed Angel
Sometimes life gives us severe shock, Undermines the plans and does block, The ways of wisdom leading ahead, Reveals the hands that secretly mock.
Why I Write?
When indelible memories of the past, Torment my heart and mind; I write. When mist floats in front of the eyes,
Alongside the wide gray road stood I, To watch a procession passed by, Of the damsels, rather all in teen, Of the same size height and colour,
(In the memory of a daughter buried alive in Pre-Islamic times.) O! Father where are we going to? Bazaar! What will you buy for me?
A lie though goes on unpunished, Is not to be concealed; The cheater though thousands of times, Beguiles the world whole,
A Guiding Whisper
Ah! My mind often brings me behind, To the unpolluted visionary age, When my heart wished to dissolve, Physical entity of my own being,
A Forest In The Garden
A Gardener with saintly vision, Planted a garden making its division, Into the zones two.
21st Century (Composed In 1998)
The added wisdom with the scornful use, Will add more to the human miseries. A century of conflicts, contending confusions, Blurring the minds, hearts, and vision,
A Cargo Of Sins
A sojourn in the sleep, Led me to the valley deep, I passed through forest thick, And high hills and crests,
Fondness For Destination
After sipping Drop after drop, And surviving After a fight against Death,
A Spectacle In The Twin Cities
In front of the Savours Was placed a trash container By the municipality, The people came and went back
A Monologue Of A Terrorist
Tonight sleep shall not overwhelmed me, Second by second the night will slip to that morn, And then there will be no morn in my fate.
A Veteran Of The World War Ii
In my early days of childhood, I beheld a man, He was in eighties with thin wobbly, shaky legs, Slits slots were on his heels, broken were his boots.
Who bangs at the door,
The sleeping conscience?
I walked a lot,
On the track of life,
I did spend time,
In vile and vain race,
Rebelling at every pace.