SOME poets and writers become famous when their books see the light of the day. However, others are famous before their books get published and their names are considered a guarantee for marketing a book. Rokhan Yousafzai can be placed in the latter category of poets and writers.
He was not only famous but also popular among Pashto writers and poets, whether they lived in Peshawar, Quetta and Karachi or even across the border in Jalalabad and Kabul, before his collection of poetry Da Ranrha Khob (a dream of light) hit stalls, owing to the active and pivotal role played by him in forming and running literary organisations in different cities where he happened to live for some time.
In most of the literary gatherings, Rokhan can be seen performing the duty of stage secretary, if he is present on the occasion. Perhaps his political and organisational activities coupled with his love for literary criticism were main hurdle in publishing his poetry book.
He began to write poems and gahzals in 1970s but got published Da Ranrha Khob in 2012. Indeed it was a long wait for his friends and fans.
The book contains both poems and ghazals. However, ghazals constitute a major part of the book. Having a hope of a bright future, the poetry of Rokhan Yousafzai revolves around love, the sufferings of downtrodden, love for motherland and Pakhtun nationalism.
He himself says:
Muhabbat zama iman day, muhabbat zama Ka’aba da
Sahafat zama rozgarday, shaery may mahbooba da
Che narhai da aman kor she, wrak da zulam jabar zor she
Zma dagha siaisat day, zama dagha nazria da
(Love is my faith, love is my Ka’aba Journalism is my profession and poetry is my beloved It is my political ideology to make the world a home of peace And end atrocities and exploitations.)
Rokhan doesn’t use borrowed and unfamiliar words to express his feelings when he talks about sufferings of human beings.
He can convey his message in simple and familiar words because he himself has experienced most of the hardships about which majority of writers talk at length and write untiringly just to prove that they are ‘progressive’. By the way, he also worked as provincial general secretary of Progressive Writers Association.
Rokhan has worked as a labourer, shopkeeper, peasant, shepherd and journalist but he never compromised on his ideology.
On the other hand this vast experience has enabled him to perceive the needs, emotions, hopes and difficulties of different classes of society. This raw material provides a solid base for his writings and he used it with a great skill to construct the magnificent palace of his poetry.
Apart from universal topics like love, hate, grief and joy, Rokhan also discusses current issues in his poetry. Taking advantage from his journalistic experience, he also analyses the events happing in this part of the world in a poetic manner.
Che akhistay mo pa bia praday jang day
Sa la waye che khar tol pa weno rang day
Wadani che da maghrib la khlako ghwarhai
Da wadan kor mo da cha da lasa rhang day?
(You have owned a war ignited by other people Now why do you complain that the entire city is soaked in blood?
You want prosperity from the people of west Tell me who has destroyed our prosperous home?)
The poems and ghazals in the Da Ranrha Khob will quench the thirst of Pashto readers as Rokhan has a distinct place among his contemporaries. Being a disciple of legendry writer and researcher late Qalandar Momand, he gives new meanings to old words and mingles romance with realism and nationalism without damaging the flavour of his poetry.
Da stargo isharat, da shondo sat ghwarhi janana
Rokhan darna nor sa kho muhabbat ghwarhi janana
Da zaka pa day kali kay yawazay day, badnam day
Hagha Pakhtun bachi ta khpal jannat ghwarhi janana
(He wants a gesture of your eyes and invitation of your lips O beloved, what else except love Rokhan wants from you?
He is alone and notorious in the village, O beloved!
Because he wants to get his own paradise for the child of Pakhtun)
Despite his busy schedule, Senator Afrasiab Khattak, the provincial chief of Awami National Party, has spared time to write foreword of the book. He has described Rokhan as a ‘warrior of light’ who fights against the forces of dark. The scholarly foreword has added to the beauty and worth of the book.
Likewise, the concise piece written by Zalan Momand on the book covers almost all aspects of the poetry of Rokhan
An interesting addition is the sketch of the poet, written by Mohib Wazir, that presents a complete picture of Rokhan
Some of his couplets are so powerful that they have attained the level of proverbs. Such of his couplets depict the plight of a vast majority of the Pakhtun society.
Ta ye da pkho landay jannat yadaway
Zama da mor pkho kay pezar nishta
(You say that paradise lies beneath the steps of mother But my mother hasn’t footwear)