Being an Indian, I was unaware of the background history that Alamgir Hashmi has referred to in this poem. I had to make considerable research to go through the tough and confusing words of the poem.
Here in this article, I have provided the summary as well as analysis of the poem to make you well aware of the subplot as well in addition to the summary.
The poem “Pakistan Movement” written by Alamgir Hashmi is divided into three sections or parts
- Part 1 deals with the bloody partition of the Sub-continent after the end of Colonial rule.
- Part 2 deals with the structural coherence of movement and migration through concurrent images of raising and falling energy, paradoxically without any movement.
- Part 3 deals with the future of Pakistan and hopes of the nation.
Movement, sure. Millions moving
From that side to this side,
From this side to that side, and back again sometimes,
Across the thoughtful movement
Wherein stood those who were undecided, and suspect,
Like border-posts signifying the mid-frontier.
The sultry summer-if you know what I mean-behind us.
The blistering journeys on foot, the grinding oxcart
Expeditions, the slow, steamy railways
And their marauders behind us.
The slit throats of the nobility, the malfunctioning
Desire, England’s fond promises,
And snuffed-out love of the communal streets;
Their moonlight shadows of lead; the changing of the colours
And ‘47’s burning cities behind us.
Think this is where we wanted to be
From the beginning of our time;
A land as beautiful as a poet’s dream;
Or even before he found it,
The Arab sailor’s act of faith.
Poet gives an insight into the scenario of the partition of sub-continent. Thousands of people were migrating from one place to another, while some were returning back and some others were confused. There were chaos and confusion everywhere.
The poet uses images from Collective Unconscious in order to reconstruct the past history of the partition. The people were migrating by foot in the hot summer days, some on bullock-carts while some on steam trains in order to save their lives from the hooligans who were chasing them for butchering the men, looting the possessions and kidnapping raping and the women.
Different opinions were prevailing regarding the partition. There was a betrayal of England who made false promises to the people. The love was murdered in the streets of communal violence. The cities were burning and horror was prevailing everywhere.
After explaining the horrors of partition, Alamgir Hashmi makes us to think that this land was the beautiful land imagined in the dream of the poet(Allama Iqbal) and even long before him, conquered by Arabian Sailor (Muhammad bin Qasim) who was firm in his belief and laid the foundation of Islam on it. The rule of Islam remained for centuries.
I have surely come across it before
In one of the books, or what I imagined on an alien shore
Perhaps appointed by time for a landfall.
That’s my boat, these my oars; the sail’s down.
The movement’s upwards from the south
And the choice considerable,
For the compass might be affixed
By some dusky Eskimos. I can tent up in a high-rise,
Wait out the passing plane through starlight, till dawn.
The sea-loins skid on imaginary ice, transfixing the world
With a new axis of summer. Their eyes turning, liquid, green.
The granary of the north gets a southward push,
Into freedom, and feeds nearly everyone-
Until the quaking elements rumble again in the earth’s belly
And split the land beyond rejoicing;
The furrowed fields like the cracks in time
Scotched inside a number. A kind of fall;
But the people rising everywhere, free to grow
How they will, if they will.
In the second part, Alamgir Hashmi says that he has witnessed these incidents after reading some book though he was not there in reality. He imagines himself standing on some strange shore that is fixed by the past events and waits for the arrival of the boat.
After riding his boat, and having the oar blades, he begins his journey to the past from the present. Reaching into the past, he considers his safety-significant on the land that has been annexed by dull-looking marauders.
Hence he goes to some tall building and waits there for the passing of this horror and violent night and coming of the dawn i.e. the bright day that would bring prosperity on the land.
That dawn comes but does not last long. The sea-lions (i.e. the mariners of USSR during the late 70s till 1991) who desired to reach the warm waters of the Indian Ocean came from the North terrorising the land) wanted to repeat the violence of summer (i.e. the time of partition).
Eyes, turning, liquid, green signify that they had reached quite near the warm and green land of Pakistan. These communists had reached near the frontiers of Pakistan and satisfied the neighbour countries against it.
Thus it was a big threat to the existence of Pakistan. However, a volcanic disturbance appeared from the crust of earth unexpectedly.
All the plans of enemies failed. The enemy state splits into a number of princely states (disintegration of USSR in 1991) and thus Pakistan was saved. Now, even though this country is safe, yet the challenges are not over.
The people of Pakistan are realising their hopes and expectations for the preservation, solidification and extension of the ideology of their country.
It is the cyclical crops I was looking at—
And the interminable deltas of hope,
Where the rivers are either in torrent or slow endless flow,
The past being a curious valley, the present tense,
Future’s the only flower worth tending in this earth,
Where I sow my words; and you know,
These good trees bear fruit round the year, discretely,
Moving along the waterways
And four seasons of the faithful sun.
In the 3rd section of the poem, Alamgir Hashmi demonstrates that the future is worth investing in and hoping for, by using metaphors like surging and slow-moving water, sowing and reaping as well as topography and flora.
For the poet, past is an odd valley, the present full of intensity and only future is something where hopes live for eternity. Here violent flows of the river mean revolution and unending slow flow of the river means evolution.
In the end, he gives a message that one should sow the seeds of the good, communal harmony and prosperity in the future for the betterment and development of Pakistan.