His last collection of verse, Koh-e-Nida (The beckoning mountain) contains a chilling ‘chronicle of a death foretold.’ Koh-i-Nida is a splendid image borrowed from the Arabian tale of Hatim Tai, concerning a mountain that calls people in and consumes them. How very pertinent for a life such as Zaidi’s that was annihilated by its very intensity. Published in 1970, the book’s foreword is titled: “The last word” and declares that this is the last collection of his verse. For a sensitive poet of Zaidi’s ability, giving up poetry was tantamount to giving up life. If I were to paraphrase the critical stream of consciousness from this piece, it would read as follows:
“I shall not write anymore: I have lost the spirit of enquiry over the last few years and my surroundings and circumstances have killed my desire to augment knowledge. In a country where I am considered educated, most people I have come across are devoid even of my ignorance. The kind of poetry that will be appreciated here, I am unfit to write.
“Recognition: Is essential for a poet’s soul and I have not achieved even a modicum of what I deserved. If for decades I have not been able to achieve that, why should I write more? I have often composed better verse than many poets whom the critics notice. I was shocked to see an anthology compiled by Wazir Agha that contained the names of lesser poets, but did not find a place for my name. I was heart-broken.