Rest in peace, Rahat Sahab

Uploaded on August 13, 2020

In Brief

Rest in peace, Rahat Sahab

Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam

Rahat Indori, arguably the most popular Urdu poet of our times, passed away earlier this week in a hospital in Indore. He was 70. The immediate cause was a massive heart attack though he was hospitalised for Covid-19.

Rahat Sahab had serious co-morbidities, which make people easy prey for the fearsome pandemic.

Only a couple of weeks ago he had described his preventive confinement in his home in a major Hindi magazine. He made certain profound remarks about life that had changed with lockdown. The world looked like a different place.

He no longer wanted to talk about politics, but about much more significant issues like life and death. In any case, in its wide sweep poetry is about life and death. Life is also about politics as it decides who will be allowed to live in freedom and dignity.

When the nationwide protests against the mal-intentioned CAA broke out earlier this year, Rahat Sahab emerged as a favourite poet of protestors alongside the all-time great Faiz. His cutting, assertive lines: Sabhi ka khoon hai shamil yehan ki mitti mein/Kissi ke baap ka Hindustan thodi hai (Everybody’s blood is mixed in this land’s earth/ It is not the paternal property of someone) became the rallying cry for many.

“Agar khilaf hai hone do” of Rahat Sahab emerged as another favourite. The simple, folksy and no-holds-barred style won the hearts of large number of people, including young college and university students.

Presaging his own death years ago, he wrote

Na haar apni na jeet hogi
Magar sikka uchhala ja raha hai
Janaze per mere likhdena
Mohabbat karne wala ja raha hai

(I will not lose, nor win/But coins are tossed/Write on my shroud/That the lover is going away)

Well said, Rahat Sahab. We will miss your voice and person in mushairas, but your poetry would keep us company. Rest in peace!


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