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With a message of love

Mohammad Asif Siapush may have come from the trouble-torn Afghanistan but the message he brings is peace and love.



POET OF PEACE: Mohd Asif Siapush

WITH HIS flowing beard, matted locks, black pathan suit and a smile on a face that has wizened with age, the Sufi poet from Kabul, Afghanistan, presents very clearly the antithesis to the western world's portrayal of Afghanistan as a war torn, strife ridden land harbouring more `terrorists' than people.

For, Mohammad Asif `Siapush' (an epithet, meaning `black cloth'), this Sufi poet, came all the way from his mountainous country to attend the Asian Social Forum in Hyderabad to speak the only language he knows, and what he thinks everyone else does too - of love.

A very famous name among his people in Afghanistan, this is the first time Siapush was coming out of his country to address, in his own words, "people of different regions, but with the same ideas, just as a single garden of flowers of different colours."

Poetry, and Sufi poetry - or poetry with the Sufi strains of universal love and harmony, has been Siapush's singular passion, and vocation for more than two decades now.

He has been concerned first and foremost, as he says, with people, with humanity, and with love, through his poetry.

It is clear what harmony means to him from the much applauded poetry session with Siapush late one evening at the Asia Social Forum, where he recited a poem in his own language, that said,

Do be afraid of an orphan's sighs (`aah'),

For a single orphan's sigh can make a crater so large that might never be undone..

In another poem he writes,

Even as pain in one limb is felt by another,

A certain emotion links one man to another

-- nobody in this wide world is a stranger to another...

About the present gathering / convergence of a large number of people from across Asia and other nations, Siapush says, "this is a big step - even as it is a big step to write a poem, that people here come together to speak for peace and together speak against the ill effects of globalisation, of war, and of conflict."

This Sufi poet who recites his poems with an intoxicating zeal and fervour has authored two books, roughly translated as Loving People, and Peace.

Ask him how did it feel to talk this language during the Taliban regime and he says, "even during Taliban I was open about my feelings, while many others fell silent; but the Taliban could not harm me, since I have been a close friend of too many people in different provinces of my country and too many people know me well - almost like a leader!"

"I cannot stop myself from writing, for words are my diet, my only food."

According to him violence - in his homeland as in any other - stems from lack of education.

"This is the one single aspect that makes the conditions for forces to police people, and for other countries to wage war."

"It is my endeavour to write for people, for peace, and to convert people to accept a more peaceful life."

In a serious, philosophical tone, as a peace activist, Siyapush adds, "war and violence must disappear through my poems, even as things flow down the Dajla river (that flows in our country)."

"If we continue to meet as we are doing today, and continue our struggle, there will be no signs/ images of countries torn apart."

R. UMA MAHESHWARI

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