On April 3rd, at 9.30 pm NDTV 24*7's estimable Documentary 24*7 programme will be showing a documentary on the gay Pakistani-American poet Ifti Nasim. Many of us on these lists will know Ifti from his activism, his poetry, his humour and above all, his wonderful mock- battles of insults with out own Ashok Row Kavi.
I rather doubt these battles will feature in the documentary on TV because all we'll hear is beeping, but I rather wish they'd treat us to another example because where else in this increasingly sanitised politically correct world will get such a great example of the invective filled slang which queens have used first as protection, to keep hostile forces at bay, and then as a form of almost loving self identification. In other places this slang has been given a formal name, like Polari in the UK or Gayle in South Africa, but I don't know if anyone has called it anything here (dare I suggest, randibhasha...) I'll try and dig out the one example I preserved somewhere of Ashok and Ifti in full flow, but till then here are some of Ifti's entertaining and moving poems (I love the ending of the last poem!). On the NDTV Documentary: On NDTV 24x7's Documentary 24x7 at 9.30pm April 3 - Nar Narman - a film by Mazhar Zaidi Synopsis: Nar Narman is a short documentary on the life of Pakistan's first gay poet, Iftikhar Naseem who lives in Chicago. The celebrated poet is regarded as Urdu language's first gay poet of modern times and has been inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of fame. Along with his poetry, Ifti, as he is known among his friends, has been actively involved in the civil rights movement in United States. He regularly tours various cities of India, Pakistan and the UK for poetry recitals and is very well known in Urdu literary circles globally. Iftikhar Naseem's flamboyance and his open attitude towards his sexuality have always landed him in controversy. In this documentary he talks about his journey from a conservative Pakistan of the 1970s to the US and the discovery of his own sexuality and his love for Pakistan. On Ifti Nasim: Born in Pakistan, he wrote `Narman', an award winning book of Urdu poetry said to be the first direct statement of "gay" longings and desires to ever appear in that language. Its courageous publication met with revilement but critical acclaim and inspired other Pakistan poets. He co-founded Sangat/Chicago and has been president of the South Asian Performing Arts Council of America. This Chicagoan, born in Pakistan, has written gay-related poetry in Urdu said to be the first direct statement of "gay longings and desires" ever published in that language. The publication of Nasim's book of poetry, Narman (a Persian word for "hermaphrodite", or half- man, half-woman), has initiated both wild praise and hateful criticism. Narman has also been distributed in Urdu in India and in the West (in England, Norway, Sweden, and Germany). In December 2000, he published Myrmecophile. The manner in which Nasim's verse was published in Pakistan underscores its controversial nature: Because Nasim's publisher knew that there might be "trouble" having the manuscript typeset, the publisher stood over the printer's shoulder as the text was entered into the computer. The real nature of the manuscript was not evident to the printer until the books were printed. When the printer realized that the books dealt with gay-related themes, he screamed: "Take these unholy and dirty books away from me, or I'll set them on fire!" Because of the controversy, the work is being sold underground. It has generated a surreptitious market. Publication of Narman has produced some positive change in Pakistan. Because of the poetry's honesty, Nasim has said that a group of young truth-loving poets has begun to refer to other "honest" poetry as "narmani" poetry. Obviously, Narman is educating Pakistanis. A prominent Pakistani in his 60s with many children told Nasim that he broke down and cried when he read Narman, apparently because he did not know about homosexuality. This man has become an ardent sympathizer with gay rights. Ifti Nasim's Narman raises issues related to Islam's tolerance for homosexuals. Nasim, who believes he has a close and personal relationship to his God, believes God "wouldn't have created me if he didn't want me to lead a happy and fulfilled life. God doesn't create trash." In 1993, he became the first Third World poet to read at the Harold Washington Library Center in Chicago. For his poetic work, he received the Rabindranath Tagore Award from Chicago's South Asian Family Services in 1994. Nasim's contribution to Chicago's gay and lesbian community is not only confined to his courage as an international ambassador of tolerance. As co-founder of Sangat/Chicago, he has also displayed a leadership role in the city by launching an organization to provide education and support for gay and lesbian South Asians. Nasim has served as president of the South Asian Performing Arts Council of America and is also a top salesman at Loeber Motors, his employer for 12 of the 22 years he has lived in Chicago. Ifti Nasim's model of courage has enriched our entire community. Ifti's poems: MY FIRST DAY IN NEW YORK At the Kennedy airport I told the cab driver About the YMCA He dropped me off in front of the door. A woman checked me in I dropped my luggage in the room. Came out of the room looking for a toilet. I saw few men standing in front of the urinals I stood in front of an empty one and released Myself. Suddenly I noticed someone is watching me. I looked over my shoulder. A sailor was standing next to me Half-mast. I was very impressed by the warm welcome And American hospitality. Being an Eastern and newly arrived in this country, I did not want to be rude. So I told him very politely "Thanks but I am vegetarian." A TREE OF WATER For Matthew shepard You asked for a rose But you did not know A stranger could have a knife Instead. What were you thinking? When they were tying you down Like a Jew in a nazi camp. Were you feeling any pain When they were skinning you Or you were just numb.? Were you crying and pleading >From God who made you Different? Were they thinking That you were a child of A lesser god. Were they burning you Or fumigating you.? Centuries of hatred toward you Was finally exhibited And we all were standing there Like Venus de Milo They pecked at your eyes Like vultures Because the dream in your eyes Had not been the same What they had. To be different or to be a minority Is not a crime.then why they Tried to annihilate you. Why was Wyoming sky is grayer And darker this year than usual? Why did the snow fall early On the ground this year? What was the crime that God trying to cover With shame. Matthew, You did not die in vain. Wherever the drop of your blood fell A tree of water will blossom Which will wash away all the hatred >From hearts For eachother. FOR A DEAD PEDOPHILE Your wife was watching us While you were screwing me Framed on the wall in a black and white picture Displaying her four kids Like a trophy won in a marathon of fake orgasms. I am sure you have gone to heaven Because you left me in hell. GERONTOPHILIA For ashraf and saleem One look at you and I open all my orifices. I am the child of nature. Come and look into my eyes And recall the days when you were embarked On the odyssey of life. Every strand of your gray hair Is laden with the mysteries of life Wrinkles around your eyes are like fishnet, which have trapped so many stories and dreams I want to explore the hidden world of my future through your eyes Is life really a bridge, thinner than a strand of hair And sharper than a sword which I have to cross.? Tell me about the secrets of life. I know the history has been distorted many many many times. But I shall believe you until I see it otherwise. Tell me there was no Romeo and Juliet.It was Romeo and Julian There was no Adam and Eve. There was Adam and Steve. Taj Mahal was not built for a woman But was built for a Turkish Mumluk boy by a Mogul king. What's wrong with that Tell me every thing. Show me how to do all the asanas And I promise I wouldn't kill you. Come fill me up with your knowledge of years gone by and I shall quench your thirst with my fountain of youth. Let's live forever. HOW TO "KILL" YOUR BROTHER WITH KINDNESS (ESPECIALLY IF HE IS HOMOPHOBE) SO WHAT IF HE WAS BORN A COUPLE OF YEAR EALIER THAN YOU It does not give him the right of the caliph-hood. Make your father wish you were the elder Make him look bad by getting the best grade in the school Remember in some species only the strongest off spring survive. Exercise daily. Wear the trendy clothes. (Never wear khaki) If you have sisters become their best friends. Share the beauty tips and occasionally clothes. Learn to dance. Girls love the boy who can dance. Escort your sister's girl friends to their homes. (They will tell your sisters that you are a thorough gentleman.) Entertain your sister's gentleman caller and always praise them. (Learn to lie) And when sisters hate them, you hate them too. (Time to tell the truth) Be religious. Go to your church, mosque, temple or synagogue. God is androgynous. She understands. If nothing else you will have a better chance to a have good time with the holy man. Always help your mother at home but never ever tell her about your father's liaison. But make sure he knows that you know about it. If your brother tries to teach you how to be a man Never listen to him especially if he wants you to learn boxing. (Look at my nose. I listened to him.) Do every thing opposite of what your brother does especially don't wear Dockers. Be generous to your servants. You never know when you need their "kindness". The first chance you get move away from your brother do it. Move to a metropolitan city. Never settle in a suburb. In practical life not only your brother but the whole society is against you. No one will understand your homosexuality and sometimes you won't either. The best survival tactic in the battlefield is to retrieve and come back when you are strong. Remember only the agile and strong survive in the jungle. Take your boy friend's sister to your brother's wedding. (Do not exclude him.) Dance with her all night. Dress up to the "T". Up stage your brother. And when you are settled down call your brother and tell him on the phone (never in person) "By the way all the rumors about me being gay are true." Hear him says, "I know it". Then tell him about his macho, homophobe, married childhood friend "I slept with him." Hear a deep silence on the other end. "And by the way I was the top." If nothing else that would kill him.