How lovely to hear a song to Krishna in the qawwali form by the artists from Pakistan, Fariduddin Ayaz & Abu Mohammed, performing in India! It seems doubly poignant when they sing, ‘O Krishna, do you remember us at all?’, seeming to say that we are also yours, and you are also ours. Boundaries of nation, or categories of religion, seem artificial and superficial in such a moment.
This song is in the style of a loving complaint to the beloved, sung with great panache and yet loving delicacy by the immaculate performers that Farid Ayaz, Abu Mohammed and their party are.
The last verse evokes the Sufi idea of the stages of descent of God into form, the movement from One to many. The poetic image has the woman saying ruefully that she was better off single, instead of suffering the pain of separation, now that they are ‘two’. The signature line of the song has the pen-name ‘Hilm’, who may be Nawab Sadiq Jung Hilm of Hyderabad Decan, though this is not verified.
It was the last day of the Festival of Kabir in Bangalore, the final concert of qawwali by Fariduddin Ayaz & Abu Mohammed from Karachi, Pakistan and the 1350-seat auditorium was packed to the brim. Farid Sahab told the audience that his family was originally from Delhi and flung across the border by the Partition in 1947. “Here, I am called a Pakistan-wallah, and there they call me a Dilli-wallah!” he said laughingly.