And the last poem in the ‘Shehnaz’ quintet complains:
“The way you insist on separation now
Even my vows of love did not have such intensity
This new found comfort in our shared unfaithfulness
Eludes the heart’s life-blood and the blossoming colour of henna.”
(translations by author)
Is it not a sorry tale of forgetfulness that no authoritative work has been produced on Zaidi and perhaps the first PhD on his works was undertaken abroad? He complained bitterly about Pakistan not acknowledging his worth. Have things changed in all these years? He has surely been printed and read much more after his death but has not gained the attention that his original and diverse poetry deserves. Zaidi had an almost romantic craving for recognition and never concealed it. It is tragic that his competence as a civil servant has been forgotten by ruthless power-mongers and his poetry has not been given its due by aficionados of Urdu literature. Even today, he remains on the wrong side of the literary establishment and his poetry has been reduced to the sexual explicitness of some of the poems. Zaidi was never a sentimental poet and he knew it. This is why he complained that he could not write the poetry defined as ‘right’ by the critics. However, as Josh said at Zaidi’s memorial, “he was the greatest poet of the future” and aficionados can do little to undermine his creative genius.