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A Treasure of Metaphors

A Treasure of Metaphors
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By: Tousif Raza

As a keen reader in the vast ocean of poetry, I immerse myself in melodic harmony, seeking a unique poetic voice that ignites my souls to dance like cascading raindrops, one by one. As a fact we all know crafting poetry is an art form, but to infuse profound depth into this wondrous art requires the writer to possess a gift of divine metaphysical energy, which we perceive as spiritual potential, and an understanding of the enchanting magic of metaphors in poetics.

We must be aware of the fact that poetry having metaphor is the beauty of language, through metaphors a poet is strongly able to convey his message in fewer words, as stronger as the metaphor a poet posses the deeper his poetry is. Dr. Shahida Shabnum stands as a captivating voice in the realm of literature, where she not only embodies the essence of artistry but delves deep within herself to unearth the metaphors of her spiritual journey. She skillfully redesigns and molds these metaphors to suit her unique poetic style. Shabnum’s poetic expression is adorned with magnificent language, graceful flow, and an elevated contemplation of the spiritual world. Her verses guide readers toward a symbolic exploration of love, light and wisdom allowing

them to comprehend that it is through your radiance that I learn to love, and through your beauty that I find inspiration to weave verses. You dance within the chambers of my heart, hidden from all but occasionally revealed to my discerning eyes, and in that revelation, art is born.

Within Shahida’s poetry, the creation of metaphors reaches a pinnacle where readers proclaim, with resounding clarity, that she is a poet who shares moments, feelings, and ideas in a manner that intertwines the enigmatic and the ordinary aspects of our lives through the tapestry of imagination, forming a paradoxical yet harmonious whole. Let us explore an example from one of her beautiful gazals found on page 17:

“Laliye che ti mai chu talyun kunye

Zonnye tan ma pyom

Mane nei mane maenzi mansi wunye

Zonnye tan ma pyom”

In these lines, Shabnum employs two words “Taalyun”(fate)and “Lal” (Lal Ded) as metaphors with bi-lateral meaning, ascending her voice as a woman, proclaiming, “I am born with a fate akin to Lal Ded’s. I am born with an innate inclination to plumb the depths, just as she did.” Simultaneously, the word “Lal” serves as a metaphor, portraying the pessimistic perceptions surrounding the birth of girls that have persisted through the centuries. Here, “Lal” metaphorically represents the decline of women across different castes, creeds, and cultures. This metaphysical exploration of words reveals not just a passing trend but reflects the genuine complexities and significance of the female experience.

Continuing to the second verse of the same gazal, Shahida delves into the theme of intimidation. To fully comprehend its essence, let us first read the verse:

“Chaenis khaesis nilwoth osui

Myenis taemi khot haal

Donwuni khaasyan gartha sonye

Zonnye tan ma pyom”

As I mentioned earlier with an intensified voice, this verse powerfully illustrates the enduring anguish society has inflicted upon women. “Nilwowth,” a stone once placed by Lal Ded’s mother-in-law in her cooking pot to signify that it contained food, is transformed by Shahida Shabnum into a profound metaphor symbolizing her own representation of women on a global scale. She resonates with the suffering, the descent, and the punishment faced by women for sins they have not committed. As a poet, she metaphorically raises her voice against the countless slogans aimed at demeaning women on a global level.

The second and final metaphor within this verse is “Khoas,” meaning a pot or a bowl, carrying rich social and spiritual insights. The bowl, used in this context, represents the vessel capable of embracing all physical and metaphysical beauty, just as it holds patience within its depths. Imam Gazali, a renowned mystic preacher, states, “A person with a mystical mindset possesses a heart shaped like a bowl—a heart filled with patience, depth, and the capacity to contain the liquid of life.” Similarly, through her metaphorical use of “bowl” in this verse, Shahida Shabnum invites her readers to illuminate their hearts, conveying that if their hearts, like bowls, are shaped with resilience, no force in the world can bring them down or humiliate them.

Apart from her evocative Sufi tones and melodies, Dr. Shahida Shabnum exhibits an innate understanding of traditional metaphors. Metaphors such as Cheen, Khatlan, Shroni, Sudur Toor, and many others not only enhance the beauty of her poetry but also add depth to the vast ocean, height to the skies, and the fragrance of paradise. As readers, let us bring solace to weary minds and savor a few more couplets found on page 101. She gracefully expresses:

“Grokh Wolum Chok Lad Seenas Manz,

Shroni Bozum Dil-e-Aeyeenas Manz.

Nun Saedras Won Dith Chandim Tresh,

Doh Dir Nir Losum Seeqas Manz.”

The metaphors utilized in the aforementioned couplets, such as “Nun Sodur” (salty ocean), “Tresh” (water), “Doh” (day), and “Losun” (sunset), not only serve as vehicles to comprehend Shahida’s mystic message but also grant her poetry a multidimensional approach and an aesthetic fragrance that transcends mere mechanical and technical intricacies. Shahida Shabnum, as a poet, embodies the voice of spiritual discipline, while her poetry resonates with a global appeal encompassing various socio-cultural and socio-political issues. Her metaphors serve as wings, allowing her to soar.

Dr. Shabnum’s poetry is a tapestry of metaphors, illuminating countless ideas for aspiring writers. Through her unique metaphors, she provides fresh perspectives on various aspects of the conscious, subconscious, and unconscious realms. Hence, I label her as a poet of metaphors.

(The author hails from Tangmarg in north Kashmir)


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