Shaheryar Ali

I was just surfing the blogsphere, when i came across this very good progressive blog by the name of “Bradistan calling Archives”.It contained a post on a Moslem Gay Poet. Ifti Nasim, who is a life long anti war and anti imperialist activist. He as one can understand, had to wage a existential battle against religious orthodoxy and cultural bigotry which plagues Moslem societies.

These men are now the rare creed of “radical subversives” who are increasingly becoming an endangered specie in Moslem world.

Ifti Naseem , must be called a “cultural Hero”, because if ever a Modern Progressive Culture developed in the moslem world , he will be hailed as a hero. He comes from the Pakistani city “Faisalabad”. A city which was robbed of its soul, identity and being by re-naming it after fundamentalist King of Saudi Arabia, King Faisal.

Naseem was aware of what Michel Foucault calls the “absolute difference”, and he never tried to hide it. He spent time with the Eunuchs in Pakistan as a young boy. Associating with “Hijras”, the local Eunuch and cross dressers, is considered an ultimate insult for Pakistani males. When he went to meet the greatest of the Urdu writers, Quratulain Haider, he was wearing a lipstick.

This is celebrating the difference, which is the only way to make non-fascist societies where difference is celebrated not killed in name of conformity.

I can re-call some thing from Foucault, which perhaps depicts the similar dilemma, why some one needs to assert  his or her absolute “difference”

“But there is another kind of loneliness which is terrible to endure.”
“He paused.
“And that is the loneliness of seeing a different world from that of the people around you. Their lives remain remote from yours. You can see the gulf and they can’t. You live among them. They walk on earth. You walk on glass. They reassure themselves with conformity, with carefully constructed resemblances. You are masked, aware of your absolute difference. That’s why I always live in the bars — les lieux de drague — simply to be among the others who were like me.”

It was this which took Naseem to the Hijras, the Eunchs. Naseem lives in USA, but he is not happy, its not the USA he came to. The naked imperialism of USA haunts him, and he does not remain silent. This moving poems tells us how pure the heart of this moslem “fag” is:

The Iraqi Children

you wanted a villain
so you got him
you wanted to create a monster
so you did
life is not a Hollywood movie
and the desert was not a backdrop
of a studio
Armed forces were not the extras
(They are now suffering from the desert storm syndrome)
there were no props and cuts
Baghdad was not a movie set
Where the real bombs were dropped
Did you ever go back to see if the splinter
Of bomb had licked the life of a civilian
or a child.
what do you care you just wanted to show
your military superiority
so you did.
A little country smaller than your toe has
Kicked you so hard that you have to invite the whole world To attack her.
Was it an experiment of a new weapon?
Baghdad is a not laboratory. Baghdad is a history.
The economic embargo is the biggest racist notion.
I have ever seen in the modern history.
Iraqi children are drinking milk and eating food
Laced with your arsenic.
You have sown a crop of hatred and I am afraid
When it is going to be the harvest time.

The hell which is being the “other” both in USA for being Moslem and Gay, and also being the “other” in Pakistan for being a Progressive and a Gay, is a  dual hell, Naseem’s poem expresses this pain, when he talks about his “otherness” in USA. A poem that touches ones heart.

Why the Children did not Knock on My door

There was no knock at the door
My cats were waiting in the foyer,
Listening to the steps passing by.
Children were knocking at door
of the apartment in front of  mine.
“Trick or treat. Trick or treat”
My money jar full of quarters
looked so empty.
What happened? Who played
These dirty tricks on me?
Thirty one year as a law abiding citizen
I am still a foreigner. Foreigner
With a crude face and features of
a terrorist. My color two shade
Darker than an average white man
Is not accepted anymore.
My café ole color, once I was so proud of,
Is a guilt trip for me now.
My ethnicity has become a crime.
Mean streets of Chicago have become meaner.
“Go back to your country. Go back to your country.”
They yell at me.
And I am a citizen of USA
with no country.

Airports, train stations, shopping malls, schools,
Hospitals wherever I go, I am watched and scrutinized.
I yearn for the freedom I came here for.
Right now I am worst than a slave.
I am tired. I am tired. I feel like Rosa Park
and there is no bus for me.
Because I am not only two shade darker
than an average white man
But I am also a Muslim

Ifti Naseem has no country, just like a Palestanian, becase he is a Moslem, Gay and Progressive. He is the “other” in USA because he is a Muslim and he is an insult in Islamic Republic of Pakistan because , to quote him “God made me Gay so—-“

Ifti Naseem is a Cultural Hero, he is pure and honest , he is more brave than any male chavunist will ever be, he is living a dual hell, and he is proud of it.

The Bradistan entery can be reached here

A particularly beautiful Ghazal can be reached here, for those who enjoy the traditional ursu poetry