Slice of China in Urdu couplets - 74-year-old Chinese enthralls admirers with his romantic ghazals

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By PARVINDER BHATIA in Jamshedpur
  • Published 13.07.04
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Y.V. Lui, the Urdu poet. Picture by Bhola Prasad

Jamshedpur, July 13: He was perhaps the only Chinese who dared to raise his voice against his country’s aggressive stand in 1962. And his poems were his weapons of choice to convey his profound messages.

Meet Y.V. Lui, the famous Urdu poet of the steel city, better known to his admirers as Shaida Chini.

Shaida raised quite a few eyebrows when he penned his bold nazm, Mazdoor Awaz, in which he expressed his disapproval of China’s policy and role in the war.

Born in Calcutta, Shaida moved to the steel city after World War II. The 74-year-old man, who enthralled his admirers with his romantic ghazals and patriotic nazms, is a concerned man these days. “Though I am Chinese by origin I consider Urdu to be the sweetest language. It is unfortunate that Urdu has been branded as a foreign language, which has caused its decline,” Shaida rues, adding that the government and Urdu scholars are responsible for the sorry state of affairs.

Shaida laments that Urdu scholars and poets, who were held in high esteem in the past, no longer enjoy the same status. “Now, even Urdu medium schools and college are suffering due to the negligent attitude of the government, leave alone the poets and scholars,” he says. However, Shaida has not lost hope. “That day would never come when Urdu would be completely wiped off from the country,” he says.

Shaida is confident that the coming generations will realise the value and potential of the language and work for its development.

A dental expert by profession, Shaida started to pen poems when he was in school. His first Urdu poem was published in Nizan, a newspaper published from Dhaka. He was a 16-year-old boy then. There was no looking back for Shaida after that as mushairas became an integral part of his life.

“I was studying in KMPM Inter College when I started participating in mushairas. But, since I came from the Chinese community, the Urdu literary circle was not ready to accept me in the beginning,” he recalls, adding, “but, I slowly started showing my potential in the language. I startled my critics with my accent and thoughts expressed in my work.”

In an irony of sorts, a war (the 1962 Indo-China war) gave him the opportunity to prove his mettle as a poet.

His works got him offers from the country’s literary organisations to participate in mushairas. Shaida visited cities like Delhi, Patna, Calcutta and Hyderabad where he won the hearts of the audience with his creations.

“I was the cynosure of all eyes during the Chinese agression. Though I was a man of Chinese origin I used to recite poems against China and that too in Urdu, which used to take the listeners by surprise,” the poet recalls.

Age seems to have taken its toll on Shaida, who doesn’t have the physical strength to attend mushairas these days. The lonely man seeks company in works of Mirza Ghalib, Mir Taki Mir and Daagh Dehlvi, to name a few.